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Green Cleaning

June 5, 2009

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I can’t quite believe that I am being so pretentious as to actually write a post in which “cleaning” appears in the title.  I mean really–who are we kidding here.  I am not known for my cleaning prowess.  In fact, I’m not much known for cleaning at all.  Especially if you talk to my husband.  Or sister.  Or mom.  Or dad.  Okay.  Anyone that knows me well.

Over the years I have learned to clean (somewhat), but it has been a long, hard journey. Those of you who know me from my childhood can vouch for this.  But I have learned a bit here and there.  More importantly, when I clean, I’ve found a couple things that make me feel a little better about doing it, because I’m not adding lots of toxic chemicals into the waterways just to have a nice clean sink, or toilet, or…whatever it is we feel compelled (forced) to clean.  There are so many great products out there for general cleaning that I’m sure you all have found your way to them, but there are a couple products I go out of my way to purchase (special trip when I’m out), and acouple home made concoctions I’m really into.  And as the end of the semester means I have more time to clean, and no excuse to avoid it, I’ve been spending more time with said products.  So, you know…thought I’d share the love.

Two products I get really excited about (well, as excited as you can about such things):

Natural based rinse aid. I use the one by Ecover mainly it because it was the first one I found.  When we got our current dishwasher I just used the little sample stuff that came with the dishwasher (made by cascade or some such).  Then I started to think about it and go kind of scared.  Not like, freak out scared, just, “hmmm.  I wonder what is in this stuff that is going on our dishes that we are eating off of.” I tried to use no rinse aid for a while, but something about the way this dishwasher is designed our dishes were scary looking without it.  Like, people did not want to drink out of my glasses–and I am not handwashing if I can avoid it.  I don’t even pre-rinse if I can help it.  Scrap and load is my method.  But then I found this stuff.  And I feel better.  To be honest, I’m not really sure it is any better.  But it makes me feel better anyway.

Compostable Garbage Bags. We have gone through all sorts of garbage scenarios.  Reusing plastic bags, using paper bags, using regular plastic garbage bags.  The only thing I haven’t tried is the one my dad uses: bypassing a bag all together and just rinsing out his garbage bin every once in a while.  I’ll leave that one for dad.  I was hip on the using our paper grocery bags for a while.  Made me feel all righteous inside, but then I started using reusable grocery bags and that one became complicated.  And sometimes they leaked.  Especially with my goopy trash style.  But these compostable “plastic” garbage bags work well.  We usually buy biobag, but recently bought this brand.  I like the idea of them, and hope they actually do what they say they do.

IMG_4832Cool little “green” tip I read somewhere, sometime:

This falls under the re-use, re-cycle method of “green living,” some of which I am quite skeptical of as it sometimes entails purchasing random things you wouldn’t normally use, but this one I like.  This is basically a way to use the net bags your potatoes, onions, or sometimes avocados come in, before you toss it in the landfill.  Reuse: pot/counter scrubber.  I just throw mine under the sink, and when I need a new scrubber, I just tie them in a knot, or wad them up and scrub a way.  They work surprisingly well, and I feel kind of nifty in a Boxcar Children/Macgyver way.IMG_4829

My favorite Green Alternative Concoction:

I have a special little anti feeling in my heart for anti-bacterial products.  Everything I’ve read on them has been, well, bad.  Builds up bacteria resistance, enters waterways, etc.  And my children are asked to use the hand sanitizers at school in lieu of washing hands before snack and lunch on a daily basis.  That is out of my hands, so to speak, although I do try to donate the alternative products (like Cleanwell).  But at home I can choose to avoid products that use anti-bacterials, and instead whip up this handy dandy cheap and healthier version I read about recently (either in Vegetarian Times or Body & Soul–can’t, sadly, remember which).  I use it to clean my counters, sinks, and whatever else catches my fancy.  White vinegar with essential oils added.  Simple.  Kills germies.  Not scary.

Whew.  Just writing about cleaning is exhausting me.  But I kind of feel like I’ve done my share for the day.  Maybe I can ignore the dishes and bathroom today, do you think?

BTW: Last year I read an interesting article/book review in Harper’s Magazine on our current obsession with cleanliness put in an historical perspective–Dirty laundry: The strange history of hygiene by Joanna Bourke April 2008

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