19 - 2010

Earth-friendly spring cleaning eliminates chemical waste | Wednesdays on Waste

EarthJusticeI received this information from EarthJustice last week — it’s a great week to start your spring cleaning.

During the week of May 17, people across the country are hosting ‘Green Cleaning’ parties where they’ll teach their friends and family how to mix their own safe and effective surface cleaners, laundry detergent and more. They’ll save money AND they’ll know exactly what they’re spraying, wiping, and sponging.

While they’re at it, party-goers will be sending a message to cleaning product companies who are refusing to tell consumers the chemical ingredients in their products: Until companies come clean about what’s in their products, people would rather make their own.

The effort is being organized by Earthjustice and Women’s Voices for the Earth — two groups that have sued cleaning product companies for refusing to follow a right-to-know law requiring them to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products and the health risks they pose.

If you want to host a green cleaning party (ideally this week!) you can sign up here to get more information and a party kit. I don’t have time this week to host a real party, so let’s have a virtual party right here.

If you want to swap recipes, learn more, and take action, visit the site’s page, “Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant.”

Some of the cleaning recipes featured on the site include:

  • All-purpose cleaner: Equal parts vinegar and water mixed in a spray bottle.
  • Surface scrub: 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, mixed into a paste, to scrub away tough stains.
  • Fabric softener: 1 cup vinegar per laundry load (put it in your machine’s fabric softener compartment).

I scrub the bathroom with baking soda instead of scouring powder — works great, and no scary bleach fumes.

I also make sure the purchased cleaning products I use are as low toxicity as possible. The Organic Consumers Association has a lot of information about cleaning products on this page, as well as shopping suggestions for the best products to use. The site also has something I hadn’t seen before — a recipe for a nontoxic toilet bowl cleaner:

For tougher toilet jobs, pour one cup of borax and 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar or lemon juice into the bowl. Let sit for a few hours, then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.

What are your favorite nontoxic cleaning tips? Share them here — and welcome to the party!

** photo from

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