It Isn’t Easy Cleaning Green

You all know what an OCD clean freak I am.

You also probably know that I’m a tree-hugger and try as much as possible to be environmentally conscious, even before it was The Thing to do so.

Unfortunately the two have been mutually exclusive.  Every now and again I’ve tried out some “eco-friendly” cleaning product, and while they often smell wonderful and give me a good wholesome feeling inside, they do not CLEAN.  (Method company, I’m talking to you here.)

But about a month ago while I was scrubbing my bathtub, head down amongst the toxic fumes, wondering 1. what kind of cancer it’s given me and 2. how far along it has progressed, I decided to give eco-cleaning another try.  I thought that since green has become All The Rage, maybe products had improved.  So I bought a small collection of stuff that was available at Whole Foods and/or Target, and have been trying them out.

The Contestants:  (l – r)
1. Seventh Generation tub & tile , 2. Method glass cleaner, 3. Whole Foods store brand soap scum remover, 4. good ol’ baking soda and vinegar, and 5. Clorox Green Works all-purpose cleaner.

The Results:

A mixed bag.  I hate to say it, but of the commercially available products the Clorox Green Works is my favorite.  Which is sad because by buying it you’re still hurting the environment on a macro level by giving money to a company (Clorox) that churns out poison by the tankerful.  But on the micro level, you’ll be improving the environment of your own house by choosing this one.  AND it works.  I use it constantly in my kitchen and it’s wonderful on grease, spills, and smears.  I haven’t tried it out on anything super-hard like soap-scum, though.

I give Method products a lot of grief because most of them don’t do a damn thing except make your house smell nice.  I think the exception is the glass cleaner above.  Works really well and of course smells and looks purty as we’d expect from Method.

For soap scum/bathtub grime I tried out the remaining three.  The 7th Gen and the Whole Foods 360 were both specifically made for tub/tile/scum, and they did perform better than other eco products I’ve tried before (Method, again), but overall I was still not impressed.  Especially given the price.  If you MUST buy a pre-fab bathroom cleaner, I’d advise the Whole Foods 360 mainly because the price is lower, and it is a concentrate so you’ll use a little less, too.  You know what worked best on the tub?  Baking soda.  Baking soda applied as a paste and then spritzed down with a little white vinegar to get that nice fizzing action worked far better than ANY of the store bought things.  Hey, our dear OCD Great-great-Grandmas relied upon it, and those ladies knew how to clean back in the day. I feel incredibly stupid for not using it years ago.  Not only will you be saving the earth, but you’ll be saving yourself a ton of money (a 5-gallon vat of vinegar is like $4 at Costco), and you can have the pride of sticking it to the corporate shills by DIY-ing!  Talk about a feel-good experience!

So I’ve been doing the baking soda/vinegar thing now for the tub and my kitchen sink, and the Green Works for greasy counters.   I’m too OCD to ever give up my dependence on sanitizing wipes, but at least I’ve cut way down on the amount of toxins I’m putting into my body and the water table, while still getting everything to a Crawford Standard of Clean.  It’s nice to not have a headache at the end of cleaning day.

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