The Other Cleaners

I mop and clean the windows vinegar and water, and I use baking soda to scrub everything else.  But what about the rest of the house?  I don’t make everything we clean with around here.  We buy a few products to keep everything else clean and as chemical free as possible.

Laundry:  I used to make our own laundry detergent using a recipe of grated soap, borax and washing soda.  I thought it worked great for a while and we saved a bunch of money… until our clothes started to STINK.  All of our clothes.  All the time.  It was super gross.  So now we use store-bought stuff.  I’ve tried pretty much every brand because I have very sensitive skin.  Right now we’ve settled on Whole Foods Market brand Green Mission Organic Laundry Detergent for all our clothes and Rockin Green for the cloth diapers.  In the past we’ve been happy with Charlie’s Soap for both, as well. For the diapers, I use a few drops of tea tree oil when I need to deodorize.

Fabric Softener:  If I had my way, it’d just be dryer balls (when we use the dryer), but the husband can’t seem to give up dryer sheets.  He even makes special trips to buy them all by himself.  I don’t use them, but since we tag team everything, including laundry, they still get used about half the time.  They are at least fragrance free, but not really ideal.

Dishwasher:  Like the laundry, I tried making my own for a while.  I used Borax and washing soda with white vinegar as a rinse aid.  But after a while there was terrible build up on all of our dishes.  Nothing looked clean, everything had a hard, chalky film on it.  I could even remove the film with hand washing.  I thought all my glasses were etched.  I went back to commercial detergents, everything from Seventh Generation to Cascade.  I was thinking my dish washer was broken.  Then somewhere, on some random forum, someone said try Lemi Shine.  It is for hard water, and it WORKS.  It is phosphate free, and I only need to use it periodically.  And I use the phosphate free tab detergent things.  It fixed everything; we’re sparkling again.  What do you use?

Shampoo:   Still looking for a good natural shampoo.  I tried the baking soda thing.. . yeah, no.  What do you use?

Body moisturizer:  I used to sell natural soaps, scrub and body butters by a local company, but they went out of business.  But there is a new company here in Colorado making a wonderful body butter called Simple Sundries.  My friend Genny started it after she couldn’t find a good moisturizer.  She’s obsessive about ingredients.  This stuff is awesome, and I’m not just saying so because she’s my friend (though a shameless plug in never a bad thing, is it?).  The butter is sooo creamy and is a great moisturizer.  It cleared up C’s awful cradle cap within two days.  I use it on my legs after shaving, and it is very lubricating, if you catch my drift.  You can get it with different essential oil combinations or unscented.

Soap:  I use Vermont Soap company bar soaps, which can also be bought from Simple Sundries.  They are facial quality, non-drying and organic.

Toothpaste: We like JASON PowerSmile All Natural Whitening Toothpaste.  It’s the only toothpaste we’ve found that is fluoride and SLS free, doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners and actually gets our teeth clean.  All of the other brands we tried left a weird filmy build up.  Yuck.

Deodorant:  Based on a recommendation from Deanna Duke, author or The Crunchy Chicken blog and the book The Non-Toxic Avenger, we tried the Crystal Body Deodorant Stick.  And by we, I mean Rick.  And it works great.  It has no smell, and leaves no stain on his white undershirts.  And he really sweats at work sometimes.  I have not read her book yet, but plan to.

What green products do you use at home to keep things squeaky clean?  Have any recommendations for me?

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Categories: Simple Living, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “The Other Cleaners

  1. Ashley

    Thanks for the great tips! I have been struggling with dishwasher soap since they stopped selling the one I was using. You asked for shampoo ideas: I use diluted Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for everything from my shampoo, to hand and body soap, face wash, and even dish soap in a pinch. I’ve tried just about every shampoo alternative under the sun and was never satisfied, but the castile soap leaves my hair as nice as the most expensive traditional shampoos.

  2. Thanks for the “shameless plug”, Anisa! I’m so happy to hear that the body butter helped clear up Cora cradle cap!

    • Seriously, thank you! It’s been awful for her whole 7 month life! And then better in just two days!! We even tried the butter from my old comapny and it didn’t work. Your stuff is amazing!

  3. That’s so weird about the laundry detergent – I’ve been using that homemade mix for nearly 3 years, and our clothes never stink. I wonder if it has something to do with your hard water. Question though – did you process it as a liquid, or leave it in powdered form? We use powder and it seems to work fine, so I never bothered taking that extra step.

    Also, totally same problem with homemade dishwasher detergent as you, although I’ve found that Seventh Generation works well for me.

  4. Cynthia in Denver

    Lush. They make a few different shampoo bars without wrapping. They also have a condioner bar for the hair, but I’m not crazy about it.

  5. We’re hooked on Charlie’s Soap for our laundry detergent. And plain castille soap in the kitchen and bathroom. We own fragrance free dryer sheets but rarely use them (just for synthetics, which we rarely wear–second hand maternity clothes mostly)–and kept losing dryer balls. My favorite dryer balls were wads of aluminum foil we tossed in but as they banged around in there they got harder and tighter until they were solid aluminum balls, very shiny and smooth that would make a loud BANG BANG BANG the entire time the dryer ran and dented the interior of the dryer. Seemed like a good idea…

  6. Bryan

    I use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap for shampoo about once a week. Usually the night before a wash with it I’ll rub virgin coconut oil into my hair and scalp because I have itchy dermatitis. The oil helps my hair feel soft and the castile soap is the only shampoo I’ve used that can get the greasy look out the next day. I’ve also (hand) washed my clothes with it a few times and they were fine, I just had to wring them out really well.

  7. I make my own toothpaste with baking soda, coconut oil, stevia & extract of orange & ginger. It works great.
    I just ordered a bunch of shampoo bars from chagrin valley soaps. You can buy trial sizes to see what bar works for you.
    Apparently you can make a great dish, laundry & hair soap from soap nuts. You might check out crunchybetty.com – she has a lot of great beauty & cleaner DIY’s.

  8. Been there; tried this, from Whole Foods:

    Green Mission™ Organic Dishwasher Gel
    Tough on stuck-on food, gentle on the Earth
    No chlorine, phosphates or petrochemicals
    Sweet orange scent
    $4.99 or less, 32 oz

    It does not work, even after three washes of the same dishes. They come out dirtier and the dishwasher itself is filthy inside. This product is an absolute rip off and I have a hard time believing anyone at Whole Foods actually tested it. No wonder they’re promoting it with “special” prices, as it is truly a waste of money (and water, and energy, etc.) Go back to Cascade, I did.

  9. Mia

    Hello, I noticed you hadn’t found a dryer sheet solution. BabyGanics is a great brand to try, they’re made from rice paper! Also, I LOVE everything they make except for their body soaps and lotions (they contain sodium hydroxide aka lye!). Everything they make works exceptionally well, and I’m most impressed with their laundry detergent, prewash stain solutions are a thing of the past. Also for a great all in one shampoo/body/face wash try Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap… it’s liquid, comes naturally scented (trust me, I got Tangerine Citrus in my mouth and was pleasantly surprised). Happy Hunting!!!

  10. Jill

    Thank you for your post. I am interested in where I can buy the Simple Sundries Body Butter you mentioned. I couldn’t find it. Please help.

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