This is the final installment in my natural cleaning series. In the first three installments, I explored single ingredients such as Borax, vinegar, and baking soda. These three ingredients can be used to clean pretty much everything in your home when used alone or combined with each other, water, and/or dish soap. But, what about people who feel that mixing is too complicated or people who are afraid (despite the science backing up these products) that they just don’t clean well enough (there are times I use more conventional products because I “feel” like something needs to be cleaned extra well.) If you don’t mind spending a little money, there are so many great non-toxic and safer products you can buy commercially that work like a dream. I have tried many of them and am sharing the successes and failures.
Basic cleaning: I have said this before, but the cheapest route is to clean with natural homemade cleaners and use an environmentally friendly antibacterial spray like Method Antibacterial Kitchen
cleaner after cleaning. You can allow it to air dry so you don’t even have to wipe up after cleaning. This spray will run you about $3.99 on the website and at stores like Target. I use this spray on a regular basis to clean areas where I have cut chicken and other meats. I also use it to sanitize the sink and trashcan lid. I am very selective about where I use it because I don’t like spending a lot of money on cleaning products. I use it when and where it counts. It has worked effectively for us. We rarely get sick and I have not had a stomach virus since 2005. If you don’t mind spending the cash, you can use it to clean everything in your kitchen. It is great on greasy messes and as an all-purpose kitchen cleaner. It smells great as well.
Dishwashing: I have tried several dish soaps and all of the eco friendly ones seem to work as well as conventional (Dawn is the only conventional that comes out way ahead for us.) I tend to use Clorox Greenworks
. I use it because it is widely available and relatively inexpensive. I can usually find it for around $2.99 a bottle. I have also used Method’s dish soap, but at $3.99 a bottle, and with it’s bright color (where does that come from?), I can’t justify buying it. 7th Generation also makes a good dish soap, but again, it is a bit more expensive than the Clorox brand.
Dish Detergent: I have tried several of the more environmentally friendly dish soaps including Method’s Smarty Dish, and 7th Generation’s Dishwasher Detergent Packs. Both are rather pricey and did not work well for me. Our absolute favorite is Ecover dish tablets and Ecover rinse aid. Used together they clean as well as traditional tabs. I am guessing you could also use vinegar in your rinse aid cycle and have it work well (based on the way vinegar works.)
Toilet: I have only used Method brand bathroom products. I keep them on hand for tougher cleaning jobs and love them ( I usually use Borax in the toilet and dish soap in the tub, sink, etc…) But, if it looks like something needs a great deal of scrubbing, I pull out the Method. They make a great anti-bacterial cleaner (I use the kitchen kind, but they make one for the bath), the Lil’ Bowl Blue is great for toilets.
Tub and Tile: I use Method’s Tub n’ Tile bathroom cleaner for my sink, counters, and tub and tile. One of my friends uses the Greenworks bathroom products and really likes them. I have to admit that I am in love with Method’s bottles and have been seduced by them. I don’t use them often though since I tend to use homemade stuff, so a bottle lasts me forever.
I have never been happy with any eco laundry detergents. They tend to leave oily looking stains on my black clothes, and they don’t seem to remove stains very well. Since I wear mostly black clothes, the stains are a big problem for me. One solution I found for this problem was to throw a Downy Ball full of vinegar into the wash. It releases in the rinse cycle and dissolves any soap residue. This was a lot of trouble and an extra step for me. And, since I still wasn’t happy with the results, I went back to good old Tide. Of the detergents I have tried, 7th Generation 2x concentrated Laundry Liquid worked pretty well. While I normally love Method’s products, their pump bottle detergent stained my clothes more than any other. I LOVE the idea of the pump. It’s handy and doesn’t take up much room. If you don’t wear many dark colors, you might really like the detergent. It cleaned well, but I simply couldn’t overlook the awful soap stains.
Glass Cleaner: I have not really loved any of the eco friendly glass cleaners. I am currently using Dawn dish liquid on a sponge and a microfiber drying cloth for cleaning glass. It works better than anything else. I also use Windex for occasional spot touch-ups. I can’t claim that either is eco friendly. If I had to rate glass cleaners, I would say that Method makes the best eco window cleaner, although I never liked it enough to keep using it.
Furniture polish: While I tend to use a damp sponge to clean furniture and polish with olive oil, I have been known to buy a bottle of Method’s Wood for Good on occasion. It cleans and polishes furniture and does a damned good job at it.
One thing that I could not find on Method’s website is their microfiber cloth collection. I have several of the blue glass cloths and they work great. I have had them for years and use them for glass, tile, and faucet shining. They are available on Amazon
, but cost more than what I ever paid for them.