Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Keeping It Clean - The Cleaners

...continuing from last week's discussion...

We use almost nothing but home made cleaners. When I first made this leap, I flipped out. How could my house be getting really clean if there weren't a pile of chemicals killing off the yuck? How could germ killers smell so good??

Four years later, I don't bat an eye. My house is clean. I mean, when it's clean, it's clean. When it's messy, it's still mostly clean. You just have to trust that under the piles of toys and clothes and kids are clean spots.

Real quick, there are a few products that are not 'all natural' or home made in our house. The dishwasher? Still using commercial soaps. I haven't found a happy alternative, and those cute little gel packs? Super easy for the kids to handle.

I also still use a stain remover that is not considered all natural. Again, I haven't found a happy alternative and sometimes, you just need some extra oomph. I don't feel guilty about these things.

Now, for the fun stuff.

A few years ago, I attended a conference type thing where I was introduced to this book. I flipped through it and decided it was a must have for our home. My oldest child was getting old enough to get into things, and I was extremely fearful of his ingesting some deadly chemical.

I started off just learning to clean things with baking soda or vinegar. Those two little items take care of a multitude. A multitude, I tell you. I opted to keep Chlorox wipes around for wiping down the sinks, counters, and potties.

Then we found out how badly my son and his sensitive skin reacted to the wipes. They became a thing of the past.

For a while, my friend Lora made and sold her yummy smelling 'Barefoot Home Essentials', mama made cleaners that kept our house clean and pleasingly scented. Alas, she came out of the business. (Nowadays, Lora and her family sell HopeSuds laundry detergent. Have you heard me rave about it? Seriously, Do Laundry. Save Orphans.)

I had to learn to make my own cleaners. It's not hard. The recipes are right there in the book. I have tweaked over the last couple of years, working to combine the essential oils in combinations that make me happy.

We have a spray cleaner for the kitchen counters, sinks, table, and other surfaces that need some TLC or disinfectant. We have a spray cleaner for the potty and bathroom sink. We have spray bottles to take the place of lys0l as a germ killer for surfaces and in the air. There are spray bottles that are filled for occasions when someone gets some kind of bodily fluid on a fabric or carpet covered area.

We clean the bathtubs with baking soda or simply shampoo. Baking soda is also a good stain remover, a wonderful deodorizer, and is a great non-abrasive scourer for pots and pans, ovens, and countertops.

Plain white vinegar is also a necessary part of your natural cleaning artillery. It may smell pickle-ish, but the smell dissipates quickly. Pour it in your laundry to neutralize the smell of cloth diapers or 'accident' laundry. I use it to clean my tile and laminate flooring, my windows, mirrors, the front of my oven and fridge. Occasionally I will even pour some in the rinse agent reservoir in our dishwasher.

Borax is also one of our go to guys. Not only do I use it in several of my home made cleaners, but I use it in my laundry as a bleach alternative.

Some of the essential oils we couldn't live without: cinnamon, lavender, tea tree, clove, sweet orange, and eucalyptus. There are several others in my collection, but these guys are my heave hitters.

My kids can use these cleaners. This give me such peace of mind when they are working on their chores. It makes me happy to know that they can be learning to keep house without me having anxiety attacks left and right over what cleaner is in their hands!

What cleaning tips do you have to share? Do your kids help with the house keeping?


Jennie said...

the worlds best stain remover is Nature Clean Oxygen Bleach. This stuff rocks and can remove set in stains like bood or blackberry juice in less than fifteen minutes. Just wet the stained area with the "bleach" ( safe for colors) and walk away , when you come back to it, the stian is usually gone , if not just repeat once more with a bit of rubbing. I haven't met a stain this stuff couldn't handle! I even managed to get a two week old blueberry patch stain out of the seat of my favourite light grey pants last summer, no scrubbing required!

Heather H. Metcalfe said...

I also use vinegar in an empty washing machine and in the coffee maker. Then run water thru the coffee maker too.