Soon you are going to bring baby home and you want the cleanest, safest environment possible for her. It's natural to grab a container of disinfecting wipes and go crazy in the house. If you look closely at the container, it's not actually a good idea. Here are some helpful and easy tips in creating a simple green home (in terms of cleaning products) for you and your family.
Most of us are in the habit of buying our cleaning products at the store, so when we start to look for alternatives, we usually turn back to the same store shelves, where genuinely green alternatives are often pretty scarce or not actually green at all. Labels can be extremely deceiving.
Microfiber and water
The basic purpose of detergents is to bring more water into contact with whatever surface you are cleaning. Microfibers, which are finer than human hair and have amazing absorbency, effectively do the same thing-- with NO chemicals. The Norwex cloth is weaved with micro silver so the cloth goes to work with self-purification properties against mold, fungi and bacterial odor within 24 hours, so that it is ready to use again. You can buy all types of amazing microfiber Norwex cloths here. There are some made for the kitchen, towels, face and body, floors, and all-purpose cleaning.
Norwex also make a wonderful paste, so throw out your Clorox bleach scrub. The cleaning Paste is “elbow grease in a jar”! It is an environmentally friendly paste that works to clean, polish and protect chrome, stainless steel*, porcelain and similar surfaces in one application. Safe for use on coffee pots, glasses and most food-ware products, it works great on bathroom tubs and tile, too! Bonus, the paste is phosphate-free.
Make your own
Are you ready to break the habit of buying cleaning sprays and try making your own? The simplest ingredients from your kitchen are often all that is needed for the majority of household cleaning jobs.
Baking soda: This is safe enough to even drink and brush your teeth with! Use dry, or mixed with water and a tiny squirt of dishwashing liquid, it works as a disinfectant and mild abrasive that can remove hardened dirt and grease without scratching surfaces.
Vinegar: Also known as acetic acid, vinegar is a mild acid that cuts through grease, disinfects, and discourages mold. Useful for cleaning glass and tiles and removing the coffee (or wine) stains on cups. It is also an efficient air freshener and good for removing static in laundry.
Borax: A useful mold ad mildew remover and disinfectant, borax is also an effective water oftener and can be used to whiten clothes. Use it sparingly on its own, mixed with a little water, or add some soap flakes. However, use with caution around children because, unlike baking soda, it is toxic if swallowed. Wear rubber gloves when using borax.
Soap: Real soap is made from natural products such as vegetable oils and animal fats. It is an effective cleaning agent that biodegrades quickly and has a minimal impact on the environment.
Too lazy? Buy the right ones.
If you are anything like me, I love the idea of cleaning with green products but there is no way I have time to make my own cleaning products. If you find yourself in the same boat then you are in luck, there is a wonderful mama from Cape Cod that has done it for us. Devin from The Optimist Co. has some wonderful green cleaning products all set to ship to you on a regular basis. After suffering an asthma attack from a leading “green” cleaning spray, Devin created a line of truly natural cleaning products with easy-to-recognize ingredients. You can purchase all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, soap, and laundry soap. Soon you'll also be able to buy room sprays and foaming hand soap (a big hit at my house for the kids).
Do what you can
Being a parent is hard. If it seems stressful to turn your home into a green home, then choose one thing and start there. Start with a Norwex microfiber cloth or one of The Optimist Co.'s awesome sprays.
Read the back of a disinfecting wipes container (often found at schools). All disinfectant products, including bleach, need to stay on the surface for a certain duration of time to work adequately, so always read instructions on the label. You might be surprised how many wet wipes it takes to ensure the surface stays wet for the full 4 to 10 minutes directed on the label.
The worst offender is antibacterial soap. These products are made with the hormone-disrupting chemicals triclosan and triclocarban. Like antibacterial cleaners, there is no evidence to show they are more effective than plain soap and water.
For reference, the poison control number is 1-800-222-1222. Hopefully by turning your home into a greener home, you will never need to reach for this number. Always keep your cleaning supplies out of reach from your kids, just to be on the safe side. And remember, you are a good parent.