My 3 main cleaning products

My 3 main cleaning products

Who wants to clean? I’ll admit, you didn’t find me cleaning much in my past life when products contained strong chemicals.

My place was respectable, but if I didn’t have to pull out foams and sprays that made my sinuses burn, then I didn’t. Following the instructions on the bottle, I always turned on the bathroom fan or opened a window to properly vent the area. But this never seemed to be enough, and I could feel my airways irritated for a couple hours afterwards.

Adding to this, I had too many cleaning products overall. The cabinet underneath my kitchen sink was full, my bathroom cabinet was full, and my linen closet contained several. I had all the typical items: dish soap, window/glass spray, general cleaning spray, shower foam, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, dryer sheets, etc. I’m pretty sure that I had more, but I’ve since forgotten about the products that I formerly believed were necessary.

These products were also expensive. $5 for a typical spray or stain remover, north of $10 for laundry detergent, etc. “I’m so excited to go to the store and spend money on toilet cleaner,” said no one ever. One of my goals was to reduce expenses and cleaning products seemed like a good place to start.

I began experimenting with natural sprays that were simple to make at home. I found two main problems with most of them: one, they required time planning to mix together and two, many of the recipes didn’t make sense such as baking soda and vinegar, which neutralizing each other. If it’s not easy, I won’t use it.

So, while natural spray mixtures were better, I found them to be too much of a hassle to be practical. I gradually started substituting some products. Then, I decided to toss the rest and make do with what I had. The results: three remaining products that were easier on myself and the environmental.

natural cleaning products
  1. White vinegar
  2. Multi-purpose soap
  3. Oxygen powder

1. White vinegar

Did you know that you can use white vinegar as glass cleaner? It doesn’t leave streaks and it’s ammonia-free! I also use it for dusting and wiping down counter tops. The best part? A gallon is less than a dollar at most stores. Check the label to make sure there aren’t added ingredients or fragrances.

There is a difference between white vinegar that is used for cooking versus cleaning. Cleaning vinegar has a different acidity and is in the cleaning section of the store. Also, do yourself a favor and buy a nice empty spray bottle from a hardware store.

Many household cleaners contain an unhealthy level of bleach. In commercial restaurants, cleaning solutions that contain bleach (which are often made in-house) are regulated by the local health department. High concentrations of bleach can be dangerous and cross-contaminate food, while too low of concentrations may not effectively kill bacteria.

If you performed this same litmus test on your household cleaners, you’d find that the concentrations of bleach are so high that they’d never pass a government food inspection. They’re off the charts! If the government wouldn’t approve using so much bleach on restaurant counter tops, why should I use it at home? Using white vinegar is a great alternative.

2. Multi-purpose soap

In my search to find a natural dish soap that was gentle on my hands yet still a powerful cleaner, I came across a product that did it all (Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds). I use this biodegradable, multi-purpose soap for almost all cleaning needs. In the kitchen, this means washing dishes and cleaning counter tops. In the bathroom, I use it to clean my sink and tub. Around the house, it’s good for washing floors and spot-cleaning furniture. In the laundry room, I can use it to wash clothes anything else that goes in a washing machine.

Bathtub

I started thinking about what exactly I was trying to clean. What made it “dirty?” Why does a bathtub become dirty? Advertising led me to believe that it’s “scum” and “grime” and sorts of other nonsensical things. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of what we view as “dirty” comes from the oils from our skin. Hair looks dirty because it’s greasy from oil, bathtubs become yellow from residual body oils, and clothes stink after our oils and sweat build up in them.

Knowing this, I realized that cleaning my bathtub mostly meant cutting through oil. And…what was I currently using for dish soap? The multi-purpose soap! This is when things started to make sense. To remove water deposits from my shower liner, I simply spray it with white vinegar. Now that my shower contains only 4 items, this is all an easy process.

Laundry

At first, I was hesitant to use an unknown solution on my clothes. Would the color fade? Would the fabric pill or disinegrate? I was so conditioned to believe that I needed special cleaning and personal care products that I didn’t know what would happen if I used something else. A little experimenting eased my fears. The basics are all we need.

Laundry detergent is an interesting thing. Nothing smells more like home than freshly baked brownies and a fresh load of laundry. It seems trivial, but it can be hard to disassociate these comforting smells and switch to unscented products.

When I was perusing the fragrant laundry detergent aisle with shelf after shelf of brightly colored bottles, I became curious to know what was in them. I checked the labels for my favorite brands, but instead of finding a list of ingredients, I only found warnings to contact a poison control center if accidentally ingested. I’ve since decided to only support products that openly display their contents.

Common laundry detergents are a prime example of why many cleaning agents are wasteful and expensive. Have you ever wondered the difference between detergent geared towards regular machines versus high-efficiency ones? Concentration is the main difference. HE machines use less water. With less water, the detergent dilutes less. Therefore, companies can sell an essentially watered-down version of the regular one.

Everything else

I don’t know, I’ll just use this soap on it and figure it out!

3. Oxygen Cleaner Powder

Right now, I’m using an unscented oxygen cleaning powder that contains sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate (from Kroger). I primarily use it as a laundry booster for brightening and deodorizing. It doesn’t work well in cold water because it clumps together. Warm or hot water is highly recommended. However, it works on both whites and colors. The powdery texture can also serve as a scrubbing agent in the bathtub.

Disclaimer

I want advice on this blog to be eco-friendly but also to be honest so that others can realistically follow it. My immediate goal was to reduce at least 80% of the toxic or harsh chemicals during cleaning, and I’ve accomplished this!

There are just a couple instances when I regress to the dreaded bottle of chlorine bleach. The main reason is to kill mold and mildew that grows in my bathroom. However, I clean frequently enough to largely avoid this problem. When I need to use bleach for any reason, I use as little as possible and dilute according to these guidelines.