The other day, Furball followed me into the bathroom and after I flushed the toilet, he immediately ran up to the bowl and peered inside. I simply shook my head and left him watching the toilet bowl. A few minutes later, I found him with all four paws carefully balanced on the toilet seat. As Furball gawkily looked into the bowl, I realized the inspiration for Day 17 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge had just presented itself to me.
At first, you may wonder why I’m doing a post on green cleaning products for your home, but once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When you’re not looking, your cat is probably peeking into your toilet bowl, traipsing along your counters, lounging in the bathtub or grabbing a sip from the sink. Not to mention, your cat must spend at least 80% of his or her life in really close contact to your floor. Thus, Kitty is being exposed to whatever household products you use to clean your home. Doesn’t it make sense to use products that don’t contain harmful chemicals or fumes — not just for Kitty, but for you and your family as well?
I’ve been using green and natural cleaners since the late 80s, so I can share with you what works and what doesn’t. I think I became really serious about green cleaning in university when we had a really obnoxious student who had an internship at Procter and Gamble. Every class, we’d hear about how superior P&G was in all of their business practices. Then, I read Soap Opera : The Inside Story of Procter & Gamble and was enlightened enough to vow never to purchase another Procter & Gamble product again. I can proudly state that I have not owned a single P&G product since I made that vow over 15 years ago. Once you start getting something as pervasive of P&G out of your home, it’s not too much of a stretch to move to eco-friendly cleaning alternatives.
Since this post started with the potty, the green cleaning product reviews will start with the potty :).
ECO-FRIENDLY TOILET BOWL CLEANERS
1. Earth Friendly Toilet Kleener
I tried 2 or 3 eco-friendly toilet bowl cleaners before I found this one. Earth Friendly Toilet Kleener is a natural cedar oil based product and was heads and shoulders above the competition. However, that was about 7 years ago, so maybe the ones that didn’t work so well (eg. Ecover) have since reformulated their green cleaning products. The only con about this earth friendly toilet bowl cleaner is that it’s not that common to find it in stores.
This green emerald cypress and fir household cleaner is much more commonly available in stores . Hence, when I ran out of Earth Friendly Toilet Kleener and couldn’t find any at my regular store, I tried the Seventh Generation product. I was quite pleased with the results. They add xanthan gum to the cleaner which helps it adhere to the sides of the toilet bowl. It’s quite effective for dealing with light mineral build-up.
3. Baking Soda
For general maintenance and deodorizing, baking soda works surprisingly well. It’s also inexpensive and probably uses the least amount of packaging, especially if you can buy it at a bulk store. Just sprinkle it on the sides of the bowl and on the brush, then dip it in and scrub. Pouring it directly in the water dilutes it too much. Baking soda has a gentle abrasive action which works really well as long as your toilet is not too dirty.
4. Baking Soda and Vinegar for Scaly Deposits
I tried this and it DOES NOT WORK, even when I added boiling water and let it sit as directed. I was very liberal with the use of vinegar and baking soda and it bubbled up nicely, but it wasn’t enough to loosen the mineral build-up. I even tried letting it soak for hours. My advice is that you’ll have to suck it up, buy rubber gloves and something to scour with and use good old fashioned elbow grease.
ENVIRO-FRIENDLY FLOOR CLEANER
Ecover’s eco-friendly floor cleaner contains natural linseed oil, which gives it that certain floor cleaner smell that you remember as a child, but without the harsh chemicals. I find this green floor cleaner works well on your typical linoleum or tiles without the need to rinse. I think I’ve used 1 or 2 other products, but they were not particularly memorable.
GREEN ALL PURPOSE CLEANER FOR COUNTERS, SURFACES, ETC.
Hands down, this is one of the best eco-friendly all purpose spray cleaner that I have used. It’s great for the kitchen and the bathroom, cuts through grease and leaves your counters sparkling clean. The only con about Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner is that their spray bottles don’t work that well, so when the bottle gets to about 1/4 full, you have a hard time spraying. As well, this product is not good for glass or mirrors as it leaves streaks and “fog”.
Full Disclosure: I’m a wowgreen Independent Distributor. I thought Seventh Gen was as good as it gets until I tried the wowgreen All Purpose Cleaner. It was partly because of the effectiveness of this product that caused me to become an independent distributor. It works as well as Seventh Gen. The kicker is that their spray bottles are reusable and that they sell concentrated packets of their cleaners. You simply pour the refill into the bottle and add water. With Seventh Gen, I was amassing a huge collection of spray bottles, and let’s face it, even the greenest of us can only come up with so many ways to use a spray bottle. BTW, the wowgreen spray bottles work really well.
NATURAL GLASS CLEANERS
1. Half Vinegar with Half Water
I used to work at a fast food joint in the 80s (yes, I’m atoning for my sins now) and they used a mixture of half vinegar and half water to wash the windows. This works really well and is especially effective for scaly build-up like you would find on a glass shower door. The only con is that it smells bad.
This is my favourite green window cleaner. I even like it better than Seventh Generation’s Natural Glass and Surface Cleaner. This natural cleaner cleans without leaving streaks and makes cleaning windows as effortless as is possible to make cleaning windows :).
Full Disclosure: I’m a wowgreen Independent Distributor. Since I raved about the wowgreen All Purpose cleaner, I’ll keep this one simple. It works well on mirrors and glass. I found it was ok, but not the greatest for stainless steel. For steel, you really need to use as directed (spray and leave for 60 seconds), whereas it was much more flexible for glass/mirrors. It also comes in reusable spray bottles with concentrated refills.
ECO-FRIENDLY CARPET STAIN AND SPOT REMOVER
As I mentioned in my review of natural pet odor removers, this is probably a product that your cat doesn’t need, but your “friend’s” cat might. If your “friend’s” cat is a little hasty in doing his number two and leaves a little feces in the carpet, this product is good for some spot cleaning, or so I’ve heard.
SINKS AND TUBS
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is like a miracle cleaner and I find it to be almost as good as those very harsh scouring products (you know the powders that make your nose tingle because they’re so strong and they have the corrosive symbol on the front of the package). Pour about a half cup of baking soda in a pile by the sink. Take a lightly moistened cloth or sponge, dip it in the baking soda and then scrub. It will take that layer of grime right off. You’ll be amazed. You just need to rinse the sink really well afterwards.
You can also use baking powder to polish pots and pans or remove burnt food crusted on them. A small dab can also remove tarnish from silver.
HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION
- This review of green and natural household cleaners has just saved you a lot of time and money trying out different eco-friendly products to find one that works. So, if you’re still using chemical cleaners, pick one or more household cleaning product and replace with an eco-friendly alternative.
- Have a friend or family member interested in using green cleaning products? Share this post with them by clicking the “Share This” link below to email this blog entry or post it to your favourite social networking site.