What are the best "green" cleaning supplies?
May 20, 2010 2:18 PM   Subscribe

What are the best healthy cleaning supplies?

Healthy for human bodies, healthy for the environment. Has anybody done any research on the brands (GreenWorks, Seventh Generation etc.) sold commercially?
posted by rglass to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Vinegar and baking soda ftw, also cheap.
posted by clavicle at 2:20 PM on May 20, 2010 [11 favorites]

Seconding what clavicle said. They can't be beat!
posted by blue_bicycle at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2010

Hydrogen peroxide too. Stuff disintegrates within hours leaving behind only water and oxygen. It'll bleach stuff something fierce, so you gotta be careful, but it can get the job done where appropriate.

Borax can be kinda toxic, but it's also completely natural. As long as you use it properly and clean up after yourself, there's little to no risk to you and yours, and the environmental implications are negligible.
posted by valkyryn at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing vinegar and baking soda. You can add peroxide into that as well, which I find very helpful for handwashing clothing.
posted by shamash at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2010

Dr. Bronner's, if you're looking for a 'brand'.

Seriously, it's good for cleaning you, your tub, your dog, your laundry, etc.
posted by alynnk at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2010

A friend of mine has a line of products that I think are terrific. But even she acknowledges that vinegar and baking soda work just fine. I just prefer her stuff because it smells nice. :)
posted by devinemissk at 2:46 PM on May 20, 2010

Water! It's the universal solvent! Actually, I'm not a chemist, so I don't really know what that means, but I do know that water can clean a lot of stuff. A little elbow grease helps too.
posted by pipco at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2010

Those of you using baking soda - do you just walk around with a box or that little plastic shake-top, and sprinkle it onto the surface, spray with vinegar, then wipe?

What about for wood furniture and wood floors? A microfiber cloth?
posted by barnone at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2010

Baking soda is great for cleaning the inside of the fridge, as well as the stove top. I just sprinkle some straight from the box onto the surface I want to clean, and I get a damp sponge and scrub it around and then wipe it all off. I imagine it would work in the bathroom also, but I haven't tried it in the tub or sink or anything.
posted by wondermouse at 2:57 PM on May 20, 2010

My choices:

All-purpose cleaning: Simple Green. Dilute it by at least 1:5, even when you buy a Windex-looking spray bottle. It works for anything that can be washed, and is great as a grease-cutter. Excellent on wood furniture and wood floors, as well as stovetops, bathtubs, counters, what-have-you.

Laundry detergent: Make your own. 1 bar of soap, 1/2 cup borax, and 1/2 cup washing soda will yield 2.5 gallons, approximately 80 loads of detergent, for the princely sum of about $1.65 (depending on the bar soap you use). No plastic waste, SLS, parabens, crazy-ass additives or perfumes. I recently made a batch and there's also a great tutorial here at The Simple Dollar blog.

Shampoo: 1 C water, 1 C Dr. Bronner's, 1 T oil (olive oil, or any vegetable oil). When my hair's not really dirty (say 5 days out of the week) I alternate baking soda one day, and vinegar the next.

Dishwashing liquid: 1 C Dr. Bronner's, 1 C water, 1 T washing soda.
posted by ErikaB at 3:06 PM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

Simple Green might not be so healthy for humans or the environment. Unfortunately I don't have the scientific background to evaluate the claims being made; if anyone here does, I'd be interested in hearing their opinion.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:16 PM on May 20, 2010

The "report card" on Simple Green is pretty much useless. It dings 5 cleaning product manufacturers for not doing things that they aren't required to do by any regulatory body, anywhere in the world. And, it presents it in such a way that the reader might believe that the company is actively hiding something.

Then, the various sites that link to the report card try to say that somehow it's not a "green" product when the report card contains no toxicological or environmental data about the substance in question (2-butoxyethanol).

I am not saying that Simple Green is good or bad; this MSDS states that 2-butoxyethanol is considered hazardous at full strength, although it does not seem to present any environmental hazards. The cleaning product uses a much lower concentration, and thus its MSDS does not indicate that it is hazardous.
posted by cabingirl at 5:53 PM on May 20, 2010

Nthing baking soda. I just cleaned my bathroom with baking soda, and it actually worked way better than the bleach spray I was using before. Also, now I don't have to worry about my kid ingesting bleach when he tries to chew on the side of the tub.
posted by lexicakes at 7:20 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Almost everything can be cleaned with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), acid, and maybe a little detergent when needed.

I buy bicarb in big 3 kilo bags for very cheap from local west indian or chinese shops. I don't really like the smell of vinegar, so I use citric acid instead. (I buy this in granulated form in little bags from local turkish food shops). Washing up liquid is Ecover for me - I like that I can get refills rather than new containers every time.

Bicarb absorbs grease really well, and rubs stains off worktops better than anything else I've used. Great for bath cleaning too (rub on almost dry, scrub and wipe). Citric is the best for limescale and adding to detergent for extra tough grease removal.
posted by shoozographer at 2:04 AM on May 21, 2010

castille Soap. You can buy it at different places, I've only used the trader joe's brand and just dilute with water.

pumice soap [ often advertised as the Lava brand], comes in a bar or a liquid, great after doing yard work or remove grime and/or abrasive chemicals from your body.
posted by fizzix at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2010

MSDS, like the ones cabingirl links, are good sources for checking out individual products for safety, and they're usually easy to google. For stuff like shampoo, the Cosmetics Database is great. (Full disclosure, I know the chemist who built it. Stand-up guy.) It's a project of the Environmental Working Group which is a nonpartisan nonprofit that puts out solid information about the safety of chemicals and consumer products. /librarian hat
posted by clavicle at 10:13 AM on May 21, 2010

Those microfiber cleaning cloths are excellent -- a damp 'miracle cloth' can clean lots of surfaces without any cleaning product. The ones with terry-cloth-like loops are best. I also use a mop with a flat microfiber pad on wood and tile floors; in the kitchen, a little dish soap helps with stubborn dried-up spills and grease. And dust really clings to a dry miracle cloth or mop. The cloths and pads can be machine washed and dried.

Mister Clean Magic Eraser is unbelievable. Wet it with a little water and rub very gently to get rid of dark scuffs on walls, black heel marks on floors, mystery markings on baseboards. Be very careful, though... it's abrasive and can alter the sheen of the surface if you rub to hard or too much.
posted by wryly at 10:18 AM on May 21, 2010

Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds, for general cleaning. It works amazingly well for cutting grease. I use it to wash my dishes, my floors, the bathroom, everything. It has a mild pine-y scent.
posted by asimplemouse at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't want to hijack the thread, but sometimes when cleaning with baking soda and vinegar it leaves behind streaks. Am I doing something wrong?
posted by xammerboy at 10:53 AM on May 21, 2010

Streaks might come from additives in the vinegar - Xammerboy, are you using straight white vinegar or maybe apple cider or something with some residue?
Simple Green can (literally) dissolve paint, in my experience. Great for tough grease, but usually overkill. Dr.Bronners, vinegar, baking soda - they all work well.
posted by lorax at 11:35 PM on May 21, 2010

xammerboy, make sure the vinegar you use is distilled white, and if necessary, dilute with water. Shouldn't leave streaks.
posted by ifjuly at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2010

ErikaB: "Laundry detergent: Make your own. "

ErikaB, I have been meaning to do this for a long time. Do you know if it works OK in a front-loading machine, where the soap goes in a little tray and gets flushed into the machine? I worry it would be too gelatinous and not dissolve fast enough to get flushed through properly.
posted by librarina at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2010

« Older I like to drink wine and play with my dogs.   |   Once you see my sweet moves you're gonna stay... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.