Friday, February 23, 2007

Cleansing Thy Conscience

by Motherbumper

I think one of the hardest things about trying to be more earth-friendly has been cleaning – specifically, everyday household chores. In my endeavours, I have tried many commercial products and some home made solutions. Here are two of my favourites:

Counter top and Cutting Board Cleaner
This is a recipe I found* for a cleaner that is comprised of two simple ingredients: vinegar (white or apple cider) and 3% hydrogen peroxide, each in individual spray bottles. Simply spray the counter surface, first with the vinegar and then with the hydrogen peroxide. Finish by wiping the surface like any other cleaner.

Apparently, using these two sprays (vinegar and hydrogen peroxide) helps destroy virtually all salmonella and shigella (E.coli) bacteria. I wasn’t able to confirm the actual research that supports this claim but vinegar is a fantastic cleaner and hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic so it doesn’t seem too surprising.

I used it on the counters and it performed just like the commercial brands. Even though there was no residue and little smell, I treated it like regular store-bought cleaner and wiped down the counters and cutting board with a wet cloth. I liked using something without heavy scents and I usually have those two items on hand. I’ll be keeping this one in my cleaning routine. Gag, I have a cleaning routine. I never thought those words would cross my lips.

General Purpose Cleaning Wipes
The second cleaner I like is nowhere near perfect when it comes to being a clean-conscience slash earth-friendly product but for me it’s a keeper. Method brand makes disposable cleaning wipes in three scents: lavender, cucumber, and grapefruit.

Before you ask “OMG why even bother using something disposable and scented?” I will come to my own defence by saying sometimes a mess is so yucky (think cat puke) that using a rag means that I'm probably just going to throw it out. Let’s face it, in gross situations I'm lazy and I do not have a laundry room which means I don't get to clean my rags often enough. I'll strive for less disposable when I've got more resources and time.

One thing I have to ask Method is I have is why don’t they produce non-scented wipes? I'm not a huge fan of scents in anything except candles, yet I must admit the scents in the wipes weren't too overpowering and I've smelled worse. Also, why not make the plastic dispenser refillable? I’m sending them an email.

Those questions aside, I do feel better using them as compared to the other commercial disposable cleaning wipes because Method’s are biodegradable and non-toxic. They work well for those gross jobs (hairballs and the like) and I'm a sucker for packaging that looks good (Yes, I can admit it I'm so lazy AND superficial sometimes). The wipes are easily found at most Shoppers Drug Mart outlets I’ve visited and I can fall out the door and hit three of those in under ten minutes so score one for availability.

So this is a step in the right direction (I hope) at being more earth-friendly. I really do try to use the disposable wipes only for yucky stuff but I must confess that doesn’t always happen. I’m happy with the home-made recipe and it makes me feel a whole lot better using vinegar than whipping out the commercial brand. And the hydrogen peroxide? Well if I ever get the hankering to streak my hair a la 1984, I’ve already got the supplies on hand.

I’d love to hear about any of your “greener” cleaning and household tips - send them my way!

* Source: Make It Yourself (2005) p. 170 "Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth", author: Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine


I’ve lived in Toronto for six years and in that time I’ve married, become a mom and tried to improve my impact on the planet by living a more sustainable lifestyle, all done with some success. My background is in IT and I have a degree in Psychology. That either tells you everything or nothing at all.


metro mama said...

I really like the Method products.

I use vinegar and water on my floors.

kittenpie said...

I will say on the topic of cleaning wipes that I have found the flushable wipes meant for kid bottoms do the job just as well as the Clorox wipes, and they are designed to break down more easily to be flushable, the scent is not that offensivee, and because they are meant for tender young butts, the cleanser in them is pretty gentle and non-toxic. And they come in refill packs. A pretty good deal, all-around.

MotherBumper said...

Oh I like that Kittenpie! Great idea and a new use for all those flushable baby wipes. I'm trying that one for sure.

Vinegar is one of the best cleaners around but it makes me crave fries (what can I say, my stomach rules the roost).

penelopeto said...

I'm a big fan of vinegar and water for most things, but when i feel that a specific product is needed, it's seventh generation for me. yes, this stuff is slightly more expensive than the toxic brands, but for better or for worse, a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner lasts a long time in my house.