Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Melody Quinlan


How to Green Your Cleaning Products

Posted: 01/15/2013 5:25 pm

Looking to up your green street cred? With new goals focused on trimming down the waist line and improving athletic performance it's important to take a step back and think of alternative holistic practices that can improve your health and well-being.

The focus is always laid on what we put in our bodies and what we do with our bodies. It's also important to consider the environment that we are living in.

Your home, in all of its eclectic warmth and decorative style, can be physically harming you. It's not because of a terrible vase your mother-in-law bought you last year for Christmas that you unwillingly display; or because of your roommate's oversize couch from the '80s. Your home may be harming you because of the products that you are using to clean it with. Nothing like tearing up as you walk in to your recently bleached washroom. Hint: tears are not due to pride over the glistening porcelain. FYI people, that burning sensation in your nose is never a good thing.

Common house hold cleaners contain ingredients such as dimethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chlorides, ammonia, chlorinated phenols, and nonylphenol ethoxylate; sounds fancy doesn't it? Try scary! These chemicals are known to be nervous, respiratory, endocrine and circulatory system disruptors. I don't know about you but the thought of the products that I use to clean my home causing that much of a ruckus internally does not sit well.

Now that you are holding your breath walking around your house trying not to touch any surface with your bare hands (because you can absorb toxins through your skin) get ready because I have a solution for you. If you wouldn't put it in, or on your body you should give your home the same respect.

DIY Project: Home Cleaners

It's time to get a little creative with some of the holistic gems that you already have kicking around the house.

• Baking Soda: can be used to get rid of grease, remove dirt and whiten surfaces.
• Vinegar: disinfects and deodorizes.
• Lemon Juice: disinfects and provides a fresh clean smell.
• Sea salt: cuts the grime and mould.
• Essential Oils: great natural scents to give your house that just cleaned smell. Lemongrass and lavender are personal favourites of mine.

Here are some mixmaster specials that I conjure up to clean my home. Roll up your sleeves because we are about to get down and dirty.

• 4 cups of water
• ½ cup Vinegar
• 20 drops of essential oils
Pour into a spray container and watch as those surfaces disinfect and sparkle before your eyes

Need something with a little more kick?

• 4 tbsp baking soda
• 2 tbsp water
Mix together until a paste is formed. Scrub this into the grimy surface. Finish it off by spraying the covered area with vinegar and watch the magic of the great dirt disappearance occur.

If you are a DIY junkie you will love making different scents, jarring and labelling your holistic certified cleaning products.

Before you sign that contract for the gym, and the vegetables in your fridge start to go bad; start this year walking along greener pastures.Take small steps to further your holistic lifestyle, detoxify your home, and save some coin in the process.

Loading Slideshow...
  • 1. Buy Generic

    Household cleaners came in at No. 6 in our story, <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2010/09/09/7-things-you-should-always-buy-generic/" target="_hplink">7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic</a>. In that story, <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/author/stacy" target="_hplink">Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson</a> compared the cost of a name-brand household cleaner and a store-brand one. Here are the results: - Name-brand cleaner with bleach: $3.29 - Store-brand cleaner with bleach: $2.39 - Difference: 90 cents (38 percent) In my personal experience, generic household cleaners work just as well as the name brands. The only difference I've noticed is the smell. A few generic cleaners I've bought don't smell as good as the name brands - but smells dissipate quickly. A 38 percent savings quickly accumulates.

  • 2. Skip The Specialty Cleaners

    I recently stopped by Walmart to pick up some dishwashing liquid - which wasn't that easy to find, since they have three aisles of cleaning products to choose from. I saw three different kinds of tile cleaners, seven different floor cleaners, eight carpet stain removers, and an entire aisle of bathroom cleaners. I'm clearly not their ideal consumer, because the cabinet under my sink only has three bottles: dishwashing liquid, an all-purpose cleaner, and a bottle of white vinegar. Those three clean everything in my house just fine. Bottom line: Skip the expensive specialty cleaners in favor of a cheap, generic-brand all-purpose cleaner.

  • 3. Switch To Reusable

    If you'd opened my supply closet a few years ago, you might have mistaken me for a Swiffer employee. I had the duster, the extender duster, the dry mop, and the wet mop. And I won't lie - those disposable products cut down on cleaning time. But they also cut down on my disposable income. For example, here's the cost comparison of a 10-count Swiffer duster refill pack... CVS - $9.49 Walmart - $7.97 Alice.com - $7.84 At one refill a week, you'd buy about six boxes a year - and spend up to $57. Now that I know better, I make my own reusable dusters out of old clothes and towels. For example, old socks/ I also cut up old towels and use them in place of the cleaning pads on my Swiffer mop. I don't buy the expensive disposables anymore, and I get a second use out of old stuff.

  • 4. Stack Coupons With Sales

    There are dozens of coupons available in the Sunday newspaper ads and on online coupon sites like these: <a href="http://www.Coupons.com" target="_hplink">Coupons.com</a>, <a href="http://www.CouponMom.com" target="_hplink">CouponMom.com</a>, and <a href="http://www.SmartSource.com" target="_hplink">SmartSource.com</a>. Using coupons alone will save you money, but you'll save the most by using coupons on sale cleaners. For example, last week I stopped by Walgreens because they had Scotch Brite Heavy Duty sponges buy-one-get-one-free. I also had a 35-cent-off coupon and a 10-percent-off-your-entire-purchase coupon. I was able to stack all three deals. The savings broke down like this: - Full price for two packs - $8.58 - Buy one, get one free - $4.29 - 35 cents off - $3.94 - 10 percent off entire purchase - $3.55 - Total discount - $5.03

  • 5. Read Reviews Before You Buy Something New

    Remember the ShamWow craze? I actually got one for Christmas and could never get it to work like it did on the infomercial. (Surprise, right?) The latest and greatest cleaners and tools (both the infomercial and the store kind) don't always work like they're supposed to. Before you waste money on a product you might hate, check out a few <a href="http://www.amazon.com" target="_hplink">Amazon</a> reviews or a user review site like <a href="http://www.epinions.com/?sb=1" target="_hplink">Epinions</a>.

  • 6. Buy Green Online

    The few household cleaners I buy are natural ones, but few stores in my area stock a good selection of green cleaners - and the stores that do charge a fortune. For example, my local grocery store charges $5.49 per bottle for Method's all-purpose cleaner. But once I found it on Amazon for $3.99, I started buying most of my cleaning products on Amazon, Drugstore.com, and Alice.

  • 7. Replace Cleaners With Household Products

    You can replace most (if not all) of your cleaning products with other household products for a fraction of the cost. Here are a few products that work as cleaners... Baking soda Lemon juice White vinegar Borax Salt Beer In <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2012/02/02/19-uses-for-baking-soda-dryer-sheets-and-beer/" target="_hplink">19 Uses for Baking Soda, Dryer Sheets, and Beer</a>, we list a whole bunch of ways you can clean with household products. Here are my three favorites: -Clean glass: Mix a quarter-cup of white vinegar and 3 cups of water in a spray bottle, and you have a better glass cleaner than any commercial product you could buy. Just spray it on, wipe it down with a piece of newspaper, and you're done! -Scrub stuck-on food and stains: Baking soda works as an alternative to abrasive cleaners like Comet. You can sprinkle dry baking soda on stuck-on food, or combine the baking soda with a little water to make a softer scrub for bathtubs and shower tiles. -Polish metal: The acidity of beer actually polishes metal. Rubbing copper-bottom or aluminum pans down with some flat beer removes tarnish and restores shine. Beer also works on baking sheets and cupcake tins. Add a little to your mouth and you'll have an even better cleaning experience!

  • 8. Make Your Own

    You can also make your own cleaning products for much less. In <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2012/05/18/make-your-own-laundry-detergent-and-other-tips-to-save-on-laundry/" target="_hplink">Make Your Own Laundry Detergent and 20 Other Tips to Save on Laundry</a>, we give you this recipe for homemade detergent: Ingredients 1 bar of soap 3 gallons plus 4 cups of water 1 cup borax ½ cup washing soda Directions Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater. Drop the pieces into the boiling water and cook until the soap dissolves. Pour 3 gallons of water into a large bucket. Add in the soap and water mixture. Add in 1 cup of borax and half a cup of washing soda. Stir until the ingredients thicken. Use about ¼ cup (the size of a normal laundry detergent cap) per wash cycle. And we've got more recipes for homemade cleaners in <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2011/06/08/how-to-make-dishwasher-detergent/" target="_hplink">How to Make Dishwasher Detergent (And More)</a>. Like this one for dishwashing liquid: 1 cup of borax 1 cup of baking soda ¼ cup of table salt 2 packets (half an ounce) of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid For more ideas, check out <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2010/11/17/6-alternatives-to-expensive-household-cleaners/" target="_hplink">6 Alternatives to Expensive Cleaners</a>. You'll get a few more recipes and more common items you can use as cleaners around the house.


Follow Melody Quinlan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelodyQuinlan