Posts tagged ‘green cleaning’

Spring Cleaning Part 2

It’s finally starting to look and feel like spring.  Hopefully the trees can start budding in the next couple of days/weeks.  To go with the theme of spring cleaning that we started with the last post, in this week’s blog, we’re going to focus on green cleaning supplies.  You have to be able to do more than just remove junk from your house, and green cleaning suppies can clean your house while maintaining an air of sustainability.

Some people will say, “What’s wrong with the conventional cleaning supplies that I’m already using?”  These days, the stores have aisles full of cleaning supplies and many of them are full of things that no one would want in their home.  We listed some examples of the toxins that are regularly found in conventional supermarket cleaners.

  • Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners, are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners, depresses the nervous system.
  • Phenols found in disinfectants, are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate, a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe; it has been shown to biodegrade slowly into even more toxic compounds.
  • Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners, damage mucous membranes.
  • Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
  • Butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver.

The list could fill a book. And it’s a book that would include thousands of other chemicals — some so dangerous that they’re found on lists of chemicals associated with Superfund toxic waste sites and in the toxins section of the U.S. Clean Air and Water Acts.

Reducing the amount of non-natural cleaner used in your home will reduce the amount of potentially hazardous chemicals while at the same time improving your local environment by preventing contamination to the outdoors.

So now you’re wondering, “well if I can’t use those cleaners, what do I use?”  There are still natural products on the market that you can buy in stores.  Consumers must be wary though because not everything marked with words like “natural” or “green” actually follows their namesake.  To help buyers out, websites like were started.

The goal of Good Guide is to help consumers find safe, healthy, green, and ethical products based on scientific ratings; to get these ratings, the website uses chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists, and lifecycle analysis experts.  Each of these groups rate products and companies on the different aspects listed above

Likewise, there is also the Green Seal Label that people can look for while at the store.  Green Seal creates sustainability standards for products and offers certification for companies or products that meet the standards.  You can trust that products marked with the Green Seal label are helping to create a greener marketplace.

There will be some of you who want to take another step toward ‘green’ cleaning and try to make your own cleaning supplies.  This is a fantastic idea because not only are these products simple to make, but they are also very effective and safe.  If you think about it, they also cut down on the purchase miles by starting their shelf life in your home as opposed to in a factory.  We listed 3 easy cleaners below, if you search online, you can find a ton more:

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner:  Combine ½ teaspoon washing soda, a dab of liquid soap and 2 cups hot tap water in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

Tea Tree Mold Killer: Nothing works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Note the smell of tea tree oil is strong, but it will dissipate in a few days. Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.

Window Cleaner:  Put ¼ – ½ teaspoon liquid detergent, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 cups water. Shake it up and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe cuts the wax residue that many commercial brands leave behind.

If you’re having difficulty finding recipdes for cleaning supplies, try looking on in the “Healthy Living” section.


I hope your Spring Cleaning goes phenomenal and your house feels a little fresher when it’s less cluttered and all scrubbed down


EnAct Intern Adam


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April 16, 2013 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

For the love of Vinegar- a blog by Greener Faster Participant Tammy Markee-Mayas

I love vinegar. I didn’t grow-up loving vinegar or even really being exposed to vinegar at all. My wife loves to cook with vinegar, and I admit that when she does it is absolutely delicious, but I don’t cook with it (apparently she has the touch for that). And I never really understood folks sprinkling vinegar on their salads and vegetables (frankly, I still don’t … glad that they like it that way because it’s good for them, but I just don’t get it). While my ingestion of vinegar is very limited, I use vinegar for tons of other things and hope you’ll think about doing the same.

In the laundry it keeps our clothes soft and odor-free. It enhances the effectiveness of my detergent and eliminates the need for dryer sheets (reducing the risk of dryer fires and actually maintaining dryer efficiency—LOVE that!).

In the kitchen it keeps my floors, sinks, counters, and stove clean and bacteria free. I’m always careful to completely dry all surfaces as vinegar can encourage rusting (I learned that from storing my kitchen vinegar in a glass jar, over time it completely corroded the lid!)

My bathrooms are my favorite place to use vinegar (sorry, borderline germaphobe here, I feel the bathroom is THE grossest area in the house!) I spray vinegar all over the bathroom (everyone already knows that vinegar and newspaper are the best way to get spotless, lint-free windows and mirrors, right?). I have to admit, I’ve stopped using vinegar for the toilet bowls… I’m still researching how to keep our bowls tidy and sparkly white (I absolutely will not use bleach for anything anymore). Now, it may be our yellow-let-it-mellow policy or perhaps we simply need to increase our cleaning schedule for the bowls, but vinegar just isn’t maintaining my desired level of cleanliness, so I’ve returned to the cedar-scented earth-friendly bowl cleaner for the time being.

I keep a spray bottle in shower to give a quick spritz-down in between regular cleanings and to mist on between shampoo and conditioner to keep my dry scalp/dandruff tendencies in check.

It works for pest control too, yup, really. If I see a trail of ants, I follow it with a cloth doused with vinegar and the trail ends there. We had a mud dauber set on moving in to our neighborhood—literally on our front porch! The first house I knocked down and within a couple days the little dude had built a new one a couple of bricks down. Not having researched the on the internet as to whether it would work or not, I knocked down the second house and followed that with a thorough dousing of vinegar. The little mud dauber never returned. And gnats, fruit flies, black flies, midges, punkies, no-see-ums or whatever you call ‘em … they LOVE vinegar too! All I do is set out a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a squirt of dish liquid and within a couple of days the majority of the little pests are in the drink (so to speak) and I’m no longer swatting at my own face and I never have to worry about an animal or family member being bugged because this is completely non-toxic pest control.

That’s really about the extent of how I have used vinegar over the past few years. However, a couple weeks back I was reading the October/November 2010 issue of Herb Companion magazine and happened upon the “Body & Soul: Herbal Vinegar for Skin and Hair” article. Heaven! I actually learned a thing or two and I’m very excited to try the vinegar elixirs—especially the skin toner and facial mask.

Vinegar is an effective, affordable tool for use in the home and the beauty cabinet, it can make for a thoughtful and personalized gift, and it’s a low-impact product (go for organic vinegar—if it’s in your budget [I average about a gallon or more each week, so organic is not in my budget at this point]—and really punch up your personal benefit of using vinegar). I hope my appreciation of vinegar will inspire you to explore some “new” uses for this miracle nectar and that you can start a vinegar love affair of your very own!

Tammy Markee-Mayas

December 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm 3 comments

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