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April 15, 2010

Green clean/Hair sheen

Lately I have been cleaning my house like a crazy person. It's the one way I know I can do something, some activity, and feel in control of my life and surroundings, so I tend to clean when I am stressed out. It's also relaxing in the end to walk into a clean house, it feels so good and peaceful. I got this comment some time ago from reader Lisa:

Laurie, I thought of you the other day when the New York Times published a letter from a lady who uses only natural stuff to clean. Of course I was reading the paper at the coffee shop and forgot most of her tips... the only one I remembered was about using vinegar on water stains. I tried it on my cat's stainless steel water dish (which I was about to throw out because it was so nasty) when I got home, and it worked like a charm! I know you have posted a list of your favorite mixtures before, but I can't find it now. Do you have a favorite website for tips on cleaning without nasty chemicals? Thanks!

It's taken me a while to fully switch from chemical to au natural, but now I love my mostly hippydippy cleaning routine and can't imagine going back.

I used to scour the house with Windex, 409, bleach, Ajax with bleach, soft scrub, tilex or whatever I thought it took to get the house clean. Then a few years ago I read an article about the huge amounts of chemicals in our homes and how those cleaning products let off toxic fumes even when they're just sitting in your home bottled up. And I thought about my little cats breathing in all that stuff and decided to try using non-toxic cleansers as much as possible. It took me several years to say goodbye to all the chemical stuff I had relied on for so long, but now I'm almost a completely non-toxic cleaning lady. I say almost because I still haven't given up everything 100%. I use a capful of bleach in the sink now and then to disinfect it and get it sparkling white. I bought some Ecover non-chlorine bleach (it's just hydrogen peroxide) and I've been using that for the tub and bathroom and any disinfecting I want to do, as I do love my disinfecting, but I still have my little jug of bleach under the kitchen sink for now. And I have windex, though usually I go with a mixture of vinegar and water for cleaning windows and mirrors.

It's about making progress, you know, not about being perfect! No matter what you do someone will say you're doing it wrong or not doing enough or whatever. All I'm aiming for is better. And to me my cleaning routine is much better for me, for the cats and for the environment.

Almost every product I used to use has been replaced by simple soap and water. I use a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of super-concentrated Basic H2® Organic Cleaning Concentrate. I lasts forever! And it's perfect for cleaning the stove, countertops, you name it.

I use plain white vinegar for everything else, especially on the mirrors and windows (and I add it to laundry now and then). Here's an article on all the uses for plain old white vinegar. Cheap and so useful! There is a smell but it dissipates quickly. If I'm cleaning on a day when all the windows have to be closed (if it's cold or something) I might use lemon juice in place of vinegar, it has a clean, pretty smell and works great with some water and soap as an all-purpose cleanser.

In the bathrooms, I sprinkle plain old baking soda in the toilets once a week and scrub with a toilet brush and it works 100% as well as Ajax with bleach. Except of course with the Ajax I was scared I would spill a tiny bit and the cats would step on it and die, and with baking soda I know it's not toxic to use or breathe in or step on. In fact, I use baking soda for all kinds of scouring. It's also MUCH cheaper than commercially prepared scouring products.

For a little variety (and because I LOVE the smell) I use Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus Soap for mopping the floors, just a little in some warm water and my floors look great. Dr. Bronner's is good for anything, you can wash your hair in it, take a shower with it, or scrub the floors with it! For laundry, I use Ecover Ecological Laundry Wash (I love the smell) and Ecover dish soap. Or Dr. Bronner's ... whatever is handy! I know that the few products I do use (the Ecover and Shaklee stuff specifically) are more expensive than regular dishsoap or detergent but I'm using so few products now (and the concentrated stuff lasts forever) so I'm actually spending less money on cleansers than ever before.

My house is still clean but it's not full of chemicals anymore. It wasn't an overnight switch but I just made little changes as I went along.

Everyone has different products they love and I think I gravitate to stuff that I can find easily at my grocery store and that smell good, like the Eucalyptus soap. I'm so surprised that I can clean the whole house with basically nothing more than soap and water and baking soda with a little vinegar thrown in to shine up the mirrors. Oh! I still have my magic erasers, too, they remove stains and scuffs and I love them. But for the most part the whole house gets cleaned with no chemical soup and no fumes.

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So many folks asked about that mousse I referred to the other day. I use this one:

It's the KMS Add Volume Styling Foam. I have very fine, straight hair and all sorts of flyaway issues, and this mousse works magic if 1) you don't put in too much and 2) you MUST BLOW DRY your hair. If you try to put in the mousse and air-dry you get helmet head. Gloppy helmet head. As always, your mileage may vary...

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Finally, iPhone stealth pic of Bob snoozing on my leg:


Posted by laurie at April 15, 2010 8:00 AM