Saturday, July 15, 2006

Switching Over

(Note To Self: Do not add items to blog sidebar unless you are open to the accountability of folks asking about it, i.e. you really have to do the things you write about.) 

Several ladies have asked recently about what I am using for cleaning products. It is good timing, too, as after much trial and error, I have recently found several "recipes" that I really like. So in the spirit of telling possibly more than you ever wanted to know about the workings of our household, I'll share them. Disclaimer: if you leave this post feeling disheartened about the necessity to clean, I take no responsibility. However, if you leave this post feeling refreshed, encouraged, and with an itch to clean, please share so it will rub off on me.

First, to answer that nagging question in the back of your mind: "Why would anyone want to make their own cleaning products?", a short justification tutorial.

Most household cleaning products are made with toxic chemicals.  The safety labeling only covers acute toxicity, meaning if or how much of a certain chemical will induce sudden death. But chronic toxicity is more about real-world human exposure to those same chemicals, and it is more difficult and expensive to study, hence there is no safety labeling for it. Long-term low level usage (chronic) of items like cleaning products can be toxic in a different manner, causing a build up of toxic chemicals in our bodies (think cigarette smoke). Without having to purchase a book, here is a great article to explain some more about toxic household products. The main book that we have used is Clean & Green.

So, in the name of avoiding potentially (and some actually) harmful chemicals through skin contact and inhalation of fumes ( a real No-No for our kids who have asthma), we make our own. There are plenty of commercial products available that are non-toxic, earth friendly, etc., but they end up being too expensive for the quantities we use, and our being sixty miles from the closest "health food" type store disqualifies their use. (And you thought it was because I had too much free time.)

Here's what we have switched over so far:

Laundry: We use these instead of detergent, and add Baking Soda and Super Washing Soda to every load. For white loads we also add Borax for the disinfectant properties. (Lots of  little boys on a farm, remember?) The Super Washing Soda is great for greasy stuff, and the Baking Soda makes everything smell fresh. We ditched fabric softener completely because it turns out to be one of the most toxic of household products. Instead, we add a little water and a few drops of lavender essential oil to our Downy ball, and it makes the laundry smell heavenly, (but not too perfumy for Mr. Visionary). I have been informed that real men do not smell like flowers. Got it.

To replace Ajax with bleach: We mix equal parts of Baking Soda and Borax for a scrubbing powder, and put it in a cheese shaker jar from the dollar store. We use it for toilets, trash cans, etc.-anything we also want disinfected. The Borax is an awesome natural disinfectant! Anything that doesn't necessarily need to be disinfected, or for pots and glass-topped stoves, we use Bon Ami Cleaning Powder.

All-Purpose Cleaner: for walls, counters... anything, really.

1 teaspoon borax

1/2 teaspoon washing soda

2  Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil based liquid soap (we actually use Ecover's dish soap for this)

2 cups hot tap water

Mix it all together in a spray bottle.

Disinfectant Cleaner: for bathrooms, refrigerators... anything you need disinfected.

2 teaspoons Australian Tea Tree Oil (the pure essential oil)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil based liquid soap (or the dish soap here, too)

2 cups hot tap water

optional: 1-2 teaspoons lavender (or other) essential oil to make it smell lovely. (Tea Tree oil has a strong medicinal scent that I like to disguise.)

Mix it all together in a spray bottle. The Boys' bathroom never smelled so nice!

Glass Cleaner: for windows, mirrors, chrome...anything you want streak-free and shiny.

1/2 cup vinegar

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil based liquid soap (if your windows are greasy)

This is my favorite idea: My best friend's kids cannot stand the smell of vinegar, so I did some homework to find a way around the smell. This really works great! We save up lemon or orange peels, put them in a jar, and cover with vinegar. After a few days, the vinegar no longer smells like anything but citrus. It is so cool! (See the jar in the picture?)

I hope this helps some folks! We have been learning a lot lately (can you say homeschool science?), and would be happy to answer any questions if we are able.


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