One of the first steps in moving towards any greener, more sustainable lifestyle has to be the step where you ditch chemical cleaners and start using cleaner, greener options. It is my number #1 recommended step in fact because everyone has to clean house and by using green cleaners we make our homes and our planet safer.
Its not always an easy switch though. We may get used to using harsh cleaners like Clorox or Windex and using something more mild like baking soda and vinegar seems like more work. I know when my husband quit his old job that took him out of town all but a few days a month and he was around to do some cleaning, he was kinda baffled by my cleaners. He kept asking how do I clean this up with no paper towel and no cleaners? I would point to the cleaning cabinet and you would have thought it was empty by the look on his face. What was he to do with spray bottles, peppermint Castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, and ripped up towel remnants?
For his sake, and my own, I usually try to keep a couple non homemade green cleaners on hand so he won’t have an excuse not to help with the cleaning. Other people just want to use conventional cleaners and that is okay… there are greener choices available. I get lots of requests from companies to test their green cleaners and since I know I will use them I agree to act as a tester on occasion. The cleaners below are some of my latest adventures in this area.
The ones pictured above are called wowgreen and there are 12 of them from an all purpose cleaner, to a dish soap, to a wood and dust shine. I got a big box from the company and dove right into testing them since I had some guests coming over… the kind of guests that bring TV cameras. I rather enjoy cleaning and do it thoroughly so they got a good run. Ultimately they clean pretty good but not good enough to keep me buying them. They don’t blow my homemade cleaners out the water but they do have one very cool feature. You buy the bottles once and then refill them with little packets of concentrated cleaner and water. It is a much better alternative then buying bottled cleaners over and over again at the supermarket. But with homemade cleaners I can refill my own bottles AND not have the little plastic pouch of concentrated cleaner to throw away.
Another drawback was the fact that all the cleaners have dye in them. They are all groovy colors like red, blue, yellow, and orange but that is not necessary and the dyes can’t be natural. They also stained some of my white rags which is kind of annoying. But they didn’t give me hives like many of the more conventional cleaners do so that is a good sign. All in all I I found them efficient but they didn’t “wow” me. I ended up donating what I had left (which was a lot) to someone who could use them.
A company called Earth Care Market sent me some of their cleaners and I like their stuff much better although I had tried most of it before. The soap nuts they sent are already a hit here. The Wipe-Its are coin sized pellets that turn into a paper towel-like cloth wipe and I have tried them before to. I like them a lot but not so much for every day cleaning. I keep some on hand for vacations, camping, and hiking though.
Their Clean-It Mop might have been a nice change of pace from my usual routine… which is to use my feet and two rags to clean my hard floors. BUT I didn’t have a mop stick on which to attach the mop head and wasn’t about to buy one (plastic) just to test out a mop head that would only last a few weeks. So I donated it as well and is was liked well enough but I am told it fell apart rather quickly.
The last thing that I tested was the big winner IMO. It is Vaska laundry detergent. Soap nuts are good and all but the shipping aspect is a pain in the butt. I would like to try making my own but as yet have not ventured there. When we ran out a few months back I just got a bulk tub from Costco with powdered detergent. Well, in addition to the stuff smelling noxious and giving me a headache if the lid falls off, the powder does not want to dissolve in my washer. I am not sure if that is a detergent problem or a washer problem but little pebbles of detergent all over our clothes did not go over well with me. Getting the Vaska liquid herbatergent was a life saver.
I love the smell, it is really mild, and it gets the clothes cleaner than the powder did with no visible residue. It uses herbs and potent botanical cleaning agents for high performance stain removal and extreme freshness. INGREDIENTS: Plant based surfactants, vegetable conditioner, water-soluble degreasing agent, lavender extract (leaves no scent) and filtered water. My recycling center recycles the bottles too so I would definitely buy again.
Vaska is also getting pretty cool press too. One of the oldest Chinese laundry services in California recently switched to Vaska AND it won a Wash Off with Tide at the Fashion Institute of Technology. There is no reason to use harsh chemical cleaners when the greener, natural stuff works just as well ya know?
Thanks much to the companies for sending me products to test. I am kind of “harsh” when it comes to green cleaners, so sorry bout that. Some products I just have no use for. All that I tried were decent but Vaska is the only one that made me sit up and take notice.
Thursday, November 12th, 2009