Greener Cleaners

Scroll past a little rambling for a synopsis on best uses for top natural cleansers! Confession: I'm a green-aspiring, eco-embracing, sustainably focused bleach lover. Utter contradiction, I know. And let's face it, a healthy kitchen involves as much cleaning and maintenance as it does good cooking, if not more. I've tried to break off my relationship with the killer chemical, and have had some success, too. I've weaned myself off employing it in most rooms of the house, but kitchen and bathroom? No way. Until now.

The thing is, until very recently, I've been a bit of a germaphobe. Not even a bit, actually. To be completely honest, being germaphobic is something I've taken a fair measure of pride in. It comes with such identifiable characteristics I happen to admire. Who ever heard of a germaphobe who wasn't pretty neat and organized? Ever seen the TV show, "Monk"? I used to watch it purely for ideas. Boiling the toothbrush daily was, to me, a stroke of brilliance.

I knew bleach was bad for me. Intellectually, intuitively, certainly physically, I knew it. Leaning over the bathtub, scrubbing furiously, I've been all too familiar with pervasive dizziness and a  searing sensation driving up my throat and nostrils. Being one of those sensitive people prone to headaches, allergies, and sinus infections, I should have known better. My personal well-being, however, was not enough incentive, seemingly, to outweight a sparklingly disinfected toilet.

All that changed rather drastically about two weeks ago. The reason? We got a dog. An adorable, cuddly, sweet, loving, active little 3-year old Bichon. Surrendered to the humane society, he also happens to be extraordinarily sensitive, and a little clingy. If I let him, he'd trot around as my little shadow indefinitely. From day one, I found I could not only tolerate, but glow, from crazy amounts of slobbery dog kisses. And I absolutely cannot bear the thought of my furry little guy inhaling toxic fumes. I'm sure I'd have developed the same feelings about children, if we already had some.

I've long loved taking advantage of natural cleaning agents, with baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar being clear stars. But using them always seems to involve a little bit of guesswork on my part with regard to what, how much, and when. Motivated by my new best friend, however, I decided to plunge into research, on the lookout for any handy resources, tables and charts to help me make the most of greener cleaners.

There's a wealth of information and products out there. My favorites were an page and Martha Stewart's website (say what you will about Martha, who can help but trust her when it comes to a good housekeeping 'how to'?). Here's a quick synopsis. See the links that follow for more detailed info.


All purpose cleaner: 1 part water, 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle

In toilet/sink or on mold, use undiluted vinegar; rinse thoroughly

Fabric softener: add 1/2 cup vinegar to rinse cycle

Window cleaner: 3 T distilled white vinegar, 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp plant-based liquid soap in a spray bottle; wipe with clean cloth

Floor cleaner: 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup plant- based liquid soap, 1 gallon water; mop

Lemon Juice

Scrub: mix baking soda or vinegar for a cleansing paste; use on floor, dishes

Furniture polish: Mix 1/3 cup lemon juice 1 cup olive oil

Garbage disposal cleanser/deodorizer: Run lemon wedge/half through disposal

Baking soda

Scrub: Make a paste with lemon juice or a little water; gently enough on its own for stainless steel

Deodorizer: Sprinkle in base of garbage can or other relevant places to relieve odors

Soda Water

Carpet cleaner: Apply on fresh stains and blot with a clean towel