Natural Cleaners

Isn’t it wonderful that four times a year – Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter, our bodies follow a natural circannual rhythm to prepare us for the season ahead. In the Fall it causes us to want to eat more carb and fat-laden foods and to want to clean up our “nests” to prepare for hibernation.
This rhythm is regulated primarily by the amount of sunlight hitting the retina, so if you are experiencing sleep abnormalities at this time of year, you might want to take an early morning walk without wearing sunglasses. I’ve tried doing that for a week and it has certainly helped.

This is the second great clean-up time of the year. The first being Spring, when we really want to clean up from the Winter’s excesses, and the second in the Fall, when we want to clean up from Summer’s excesses.
The garden has pretty much died and needs to be cleaned up.
The house is looking pretty grimy and needs more attention than a weekly “going over”. Windows need washing, closets need going through, with summer clothes cleaned properly, stored and exchanged for winter ones.
Furnace filters and smoke alarm batteries need changing.
When it comes to cleaners – buyer beware! There are a lot of cleaners out on the market today that purport to be “all natural”, “green”, “phosphate free”, “biodegradable”, etc. etc. Sometimes, they just have a picture of flowers on the packaging, but they’re not “green” at all.
Like with anything else, you must use your common sense and read the labels. Considering that phosphates have been banned for more than 20 years, the value of the term “Phosphate Free” on advertising is nil.
What you really need to look for on the package is:
Third party certification: look for logos such as the Ecologo or Ecocert.
Biodegradable OECD 301 E or D in 28 days or less
Recyclable packaging, also made from recyclable materials.
Phthalate free, petrochemical free.
A list of all the ingredients. This is not mandatory yet, but some companies disclose them.
Some odd but effective cleaning materials I have found to work well:

Image of soapnuts
Don’t try to eat these soapnuts!
Image of Himalayan Soapnuts
Himalayan Soapnuts for Laundry

Ecoideas Himalayan Soap Nuts. They are the outside part of the seed of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, a relative of the Lychee nut native to India.
You put 4-6 of these dried soapnuts in with your load of washing in cold water. They work well in an HE machine, as well as a regular machine and are great for preserving the colours of clothes. They come with a little cotton bag to put them in but I have found through experience that a piece of old panythose works much better at keeping them contained.

Image of pantyhose with soapnuts inside
soapnuts in pantyhose, ready for the washer

You can dry and re-use the nuts (right in the pantyhose) another 4 times. Then you just cut open the pantyhose and dispose of them with your kitchen compost. This product is also available as a liquid if you don’t like the idea of putting soapnuts in your washer.
Another product that I think is really great, for many reasons, is Ecoideas BioGreen crystals. Along with being very effective cleaners, they are completely non-toxic, hypo-allergenic and come in a small package. You drop the concentrated crystals into an empty spray bottle, top up with water and you have a whole bottle of cleaner, or stain remover or window washer or what have you.
Both these products are available at Goodness MeImage of  Biogreen crystals

If you’re ready to give up using dryer fabric softener sheets (which aren’t that good for you, or the environment), try Natura fabric softener cloths. They are available at Home Hardware. You just leave them in your dryer permanently, and they last for years and years.
No, I don’t work for or get endorsements from Ecoideas, or Natura, I just like their products.
Or – Make Your Own!
Since you may have already cut up some panythose to put your soapnuts in, you might want to try making your own dryer balls. I have not tried this yet, but I intend to as, apparently, using 3 of these recycled wool balls with your dryer load allows you to consume 30% less electricity. And you know what an electricity miser I am!
Check out this website as well for tips and tricks on making your own natural cleaners. It seems simple enough, and I like the idea of having a spray bottle of (safe) cleaner on my counter all-purpose spraycleaner recipe. For a recipe for homemade, natural liquid laundry detergent that seems very simple to make, check out this link
I haven’t tried these recipes yet, but I intend to, just to see how effective they are.


2 thoughts on “Natural Cleaners

  1. Laurel D

    Ooh, lots of useful info here!
    I did not know phosphates had been banned for years. I think I’ve fallen for the trap of a “green” cleaner that only has a picture of a flower on it once before, darn. Will have to check out the ones you suggested. Thanks for all interesting info, as usual! 🙂


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