Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table -- Green Cleaning

Today's discussion (and I interpret 'today' in the broadest sense possible, encompassing last week, when Rhonda actually discussed it) is on Green Cleaning.

'Green Cleaning' makes so much sense. Whatever you call it. You don't need a trendy name or 'eco-friendly' term to do what our grandparents just did as part of life. Really, it's just about cleaning. It is about simplifying the process, eliminating excess, reducing unnecessary chemicals, and learning how many uses a simple thing like baking soda has.

We've been better at this, but just last week Joel and I had a discussion/minor conflict over 'bathroom cleaner' versus the baking soda method. What it boils down to is that we haven't made it simple enough to do it the right way. Joel pointed out that it's a lot easier to grab the spray bottle of chemicals than to find the baking soda, find a rag, etc. So that is my task for this discussion. Joel has already started by assigning a container to keep the bathroom cleaning stuff in. We use old socks as rags, so there are a couple of those in there. Joel assigned a particular sock to use to clean the outside of the toilet, and I wrote 'toilet sock' on sharpie on it. I think this is probably kind of scary to anyone who happens across it in our flat. I like to wonder what our friends think of us sometimes.

My goals for green cleaning:

  • Buy a separate baking soda to keep in the cleaning box.
  • Mix up a general all purpose cleaner that will keep in a spray bottle. I have loads of recipes for this but haven't done it yet. That would make things easier.
What are your thoughts on this? Is it easier to just buy chemical cleaners? Is it worth the initial extra time to use 'green' cleaners? Are you convinced that natural ingredients really get the things clean?

PS Another interesting event -- our friends just gave us their eco-balls, which you use instead of laundry soap, and the balls last 18 months before needing a refill (an example of when greener is cheaper - we will now spend zilch on our laundry for the next year). They gave them to us because the husband missed the smell of laundry detergent in his clothes. Have you ever tried the green option and then decided you like your old habit better?


tanita davis said...

Boy, some of these BKT conversations make me feel like I have the word "Californian" branded on my forehead. I grew up with this. This isn't a new concept for me. And it makes me feel ...weird that it's new to so many people. Anyway.

I remember when I was little, some guy came door-to-door selling Simple Green (which, surprisingly, is apparently sold here too). It's one of the first memories I have of cleaning products, after Pine-Sol, which my father refused to stop using -- that weird green smell of Simple Green. We washed the windows with vinegar and newspaper, we cleaned grout with toothbrushes and a bleach and water solution, we cleaned the fridge, tub, and did laundry with huge bags of Arm & Hammer baking soda (mixed with a non-bio detergent for laundry), and while those things take more "elbow grease" than things which cut all the grease and soap scum for you, that's what I grew up with, so ...that's what I do.

I cleaned houses from the 8th grade on, to earn spending money, and using cleaners in other people's houses made me realize early in life the necessity of gloves... as all the skin on my hands flaked away. That was gross. So, I'm all for green cleansing.

Here, because things kind of... mold or mildew easily, we shower and then spray the shower with a bleach and water solution. You can use peroxide if you're more comfortable with that, and we'd love to bleach with lemon juice and/or rosemary water (it's a disinfectant), but here that would be REALLY expensive, as we don't grow all of those things. So, while we're here, bleach it is, I guess.

We also use Ecover products (they have a good pine toilet cleaner which we use on everything), which cost more, but it's worth being able to breathe.

DaviMack said...

Yep - peroxide, bleach, vinegar. Baking soda's too expensive, unless you get it from Costco.

Joyce said...

Good for you to go natural for cleaning products. Proud of you.
The chemicals from store bought products are bad for our bodies(smells )and the environment. I know a lady who has migranes from using them to clean people's homes. God didn't make our bodies to take all these chemicals in. By the way my Dr. said the nitrates in bolgna cause stomach cancer. Scotland probably doesn't have as many processed stuff as the U.S.
Happy Summer, Love, Aunt Joyce

Krista said...

The most recent Books and Culture has an interesting article on the impact--cultural and environmental--of our cleanliness standards:


Geotacs said...

hurray for green cleaning!

good for the earth!

DaviMack said...

It has been more than a month since you've posted. Have you fallen into a hole?

DaviMack said...

Seriously: are you guys OK?

Heather said...

Oh, wow Dave, I didn't think anyone really kept track of us that closely!
We are alive. We are okay. We are now in a calmer place than the last month, and posts will be forthcoming. Moving flats and going on holiday in the same month? Not recommended, but we made it and are resigned to being back in Glasgow.
Thanks for checking in!

DaviMack said...

It's not that it's that closely: it's been a month and a half since you posted! We wonder, out in the blogosphere, whether all is well!