Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Favorite Cleaning Products

Soap Nuts

Nearly 6 months ago I did something I thought a bit hippie-ish.

I was using Tide laundry soap for my HE washer, as I was having trouble finding another brand that I liked.

Laundry soaps, especially the scented ones, often leave a residue on clothes that is then absorbed into your blood stream through your skin.  So I switched to soap nuts which are all natural, and so they leave no chemical residue.

My report 6 months later is that I am loving the soap nuts!  They are really easy to use, even easier than regular laundry soap.  They get the clothes clean and fresh.  They don't whiten whites, which you can easily use bleach for, but they haven't left anything looking dingy or anything.  Just clean looking and smelling clothes.

The other thing I love about them is that they act as a bit of a fabric softener for when the clothes are put into the drier.  I don't know why because the soap nuts are only used in the washer, but hey it works double duty so that's great!  I was able to chuck my toxic fabric softener sheets when I started using these.

The other surprise is how long the bag of them is lasting.  I bought a 4 lb. bag on Amazon so that I could get the little bags for the washer with it.  In six months with an over sized washing machine, doing about 6 loads a week in winter and about 3 in summer, I have only used up about 1-1 1/2 lbs. of soap nuts so far!

Over all they last for a long time, are eco friendly (they can be added to a compost pile or break down quickly in garbage), and work well.

If you find yourself missing the scent from other laundry soap try adding a few drops of an essential oil like lavender to a piece of cloth, then putting it in the drier with the clothes.

Here are some options to buy on Amazon, where I bought mine.  If you don't get some with the small bags included you could probably just use an old sock and tie it shut, or buy them separately.

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap

Multi functional products are the best kind to have around because they take up less space while doing more for you.  Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is just such a product.

In our home this soap is used to wash hair, body wash, lather for shaving, diluted as a hand soap, used in making toothpaste, and mixed with Neem oil to combat garden pests.  It's 3 times concentrated, so it can also be used to wash dishes and clothes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a nice neutral product for cleaning.  

Around here we use use baking soda to clean and shine up the kitchen sinks, clean the bath tub, and sometimes to clean the toilet.  

If you like cleaning with a soft gel product I've mixed it with the Dr. Bronner's and it cleans nicely.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Recently I discovered that hydrogen peroxide is just water with extra oxygen in it, which gave me the courage to experiment with it a bit more.

I'm sure there are many uses for it, but my favorite so far is it is amazing at getting stains out of the carpet! Even stains that were a year old and we had used harsh carpet cleaner on them came out almost completely.

I just pour a generous amount onto part of a rag till it's soaked, then apply it to the carpet in a pressing motion.  This is to get the carpet wet with it so that it can start working.  Leave it on for one minute then gently scrub at the stain.  I've gotten everything but battery acid (even that lightened a lot) off the carpet by just using the hydrogen peroxide.

The peroxide didn't seem to cause any damage or lightening to a colored carpet I used it on.  However, I'd recommend you do an out of view test area on your carpet before using on a more noticeable area.

Essential Oils Spray

This awesome spray is one of my favorite products!  To make it you just put water in a spray bottle, along with the essential oils lavender and rosemary.  You can't get much easier than that.

This spray is anti bacterial and anti microbial, amongst other things.

We use this spray as an air freshener, window cleaner, anti-bacterial spray, to clean the front of appliances, mirror cleaner, counters and sinks in the bathroom, as well as the toilet.  I've heard of people spraying their shower down with this each day as well.

It could also be used to clean floors if you are doing the hands and knees method, but other wise it's probably more effort than it's worth on that one.

We have also successfully used this as a hand sanitizer spray, but I found it works better to swap the water for aloe vera gel so that it doesn't run every where when applying it to hands.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

These things are amazing!  Even if I didn't have kids I would use them, but as I do have kids I think I need them.

Some of the fantastic uses for these are getting marker or crayons off the walls, cleaning scuff marks off floors, cleaning marks off of railings, walls and appliances, cleaning off the last stubborn residue from around the stove top burners, cleaning off grease, getting marks and stains off the kitchen counters, and cleaning marks off of sneakers.

I've probably forgotten more uses for them, but you get the idea.  They're pretty awesome.

Hand Held Vacuum

How do you get your house to look  clean when you only have a few minutes to spare?  Clean the mirror in the bathroom, wipe the counter and top of the toilet with the hand towel and put a fresh one out, wipe off the kitchen counters and table, and then get out the handy vac.  :)

These are so great because you can get a general look of clean in only a few minutes, and without dragging out a big heavy vacuum.

My favorite is the Black and Decker wet/ dry Dust Buster, available at Walmart for $27.  These have great power and are cordless.  We've had two of these over the years, and they have each lasted about 2-3 years with regular use.

My favorite thing to do with them is go around the edge of the kitchen floor and clean up all the debris that gets pushed off to the sides, which quickly makes the floor look very clean.

I also love that it's easy and light enough for my kids to grab it and clean up after themselves, or just help out.

Steam Mop

I hate mopping floors, almost as much as I hate cleaning showers.  So when my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year I told them a mop, of all things. 

There are many brands of steam mops available now a days.  They're corded like a vacuum cleaner and use only water turned into steam to clean the floors.  No chemicals.  

They seem to clean well and easily, but I don't like turning it on the highest setting because it smells like plastic heating up (which it is).   

Instead of scrubbing away, the steam dissolves whatever is stuck to the floor, then the mop pad lifts the dirt and grim away.  The mop pads are washable so they can be used over and over again, making them more economical in the long run than a Swiffer mop.  

Here are many products that have made our lives healthier, and often easier and more affordable as well.

What are your favorite cleaning products to use?  :)

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