Guide to Eco and Budget Friendly Cleaning
Switch #3, Cleaning Spray: We at least were using the Seventh Generation version, so the environmental and health impact wasn’t too bad (though there are some chemicals in it that aren’t good to get washed into out beautiful lake,) but the cost and single use plastic bottles were not ideal. I primarily used this spray for cleaning our bathroom surfaces, stove top, and kitchen counters. The switch we made not only costs practically nothing, but it diverts food waste as well! We have switched to orange infused white vinegar, diluted in refillable glass spray bottles. You make this vinegar by filling a jar with discarded citrus peels, covering the peels with white vinegar, and letting them sit for 2 weeks. At the end of the two weeks the color is mostly bleached away from the peels, and you are left with a viscous liquid that is a powerful cleaning agent. You can use it undiluted to dissolve glue and labels. I use it in a 3:1 water to vinegar ratio in a spray bottle as my multi-surface household cleaner. For windows and glass I use plain white vinegar diluted in a 1:1 ratio with water in a spray bottle. I also use a splash of this vinegar in our mop bucket hot water. For an all natural toilet bowl cleaner I add 1/4 cup of the full strength vinegar to the toilet bowl, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, add a 1/2 cup of baking soda, and then scrub with our toilet brush.
We had been using Seventh Generation laundry soap as well, but we have switched to soap berries, which are just too cool, and working really well for us. What the heck are soap berries you ask? Also known as soap nuts, these little husks of dried berries come from the Sapindus shrub, which contain natural soap. You put them in a little cloth bag in with your laundry 6-7 at a time, and they last for about 10 washes before you need to change to fresh soap berries. The berries are compostable when they are used up. I have found our clothes, even our cloth diapers, have gotten really clean, and the are an HE washer compatible all natural laundry soap. There are a few brands out there, but we use EcoNuts, because they ethically source their soap berries, and use eco-friendly packaging. You get approximately 360 loads out of a box, and a box is $33, so each load with EcoNuts costs less than a penny.