Monday, April 04, 2011

Thrift Culture Now! DIY Green Cleaners

Thrift Culture Now interviewed me for an article about the money you could save by making your own. Check out their article!

Learn How to Clean Anything & Everything with DIY Green Cleaners & Help from The Cleaning Coach

Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on a bottle of Pine Sol, Pledge, or Windex? What about those commercial cleaning products that are supposed to rid your shower of mildew but require you to put a ‘temporarily out of order’ sign on your bathroom door for fear that one of your family members inhales the napalm-like cleaner within two hours of it being sprayed? It’s scary stuff and yet, week after week, people clean their homes with these dangerous products.

After 20 years of working in the cleaning industry, commercial cleaners started to take their toll on Leslie’s immune system. She had become severely sensitive to certain ingredients in the store-bought cleaning products and decided that enough was enough; she was through with using toxic household cleaners.

Using some old family recipes, those given to her by friends, and creating several originals, Leslie started mixing up natural, green cleaners and testing them in her own home. She found them so effective yet their natural scents and non-abrasive ingredients didn’t leave her gasping for breath and coughing, that she wanted to share her new-found knowledge with others.

“About five years ago, I realized my mission was to teach and encourage people about the dangers of toxic chemicals and to give them alternatives,” Leslie explains. “I decided that people need to know that there is a better way to clean. I started talking to groups of women—mothers and grandmothers—that were looking for a healthier way to clean. I work with organizations and businesses trying to get my message out.”

Since then, Leslie, also known as The Cleaning Coach, has become a popular figure appearing on television and radio shows, hosting workshops, working as a green consultant and blogging regularly about the new green cleaning solutions she’s created and answering readers’ questions. Leslie is also the author of The Joy of Green Cleaning, a cleaning bible of sorts and a must-read for any frugal living enthusiast. Currently, some of the green cleaning recipes that she has developed are being tested in a research lab at the University of MA, Lowell for their ‘cleanability.’ Leslie says so far they’re proving their merit as great, safe alternatives for toxin-filled commercial cleaners.

Anyone who's interested in making their own homemade green cleaners needs to visit Clean Green Talk (Leslie's blog) where you will find tons of tips for how to tackle common cleaning dilemmas the natural way; how to make your own glass and mirror cleaner to homemade deodorizer for Ugg boots, getting rid of the smell in your front-loading washing machine, to how to keep spiders out of your house with a natural homemade spray.

What's amazing about the green cleaner recipes that you will find in The Joy of Green Cleaning is that a large number of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen cupboard. Like Leslie says in her book, give just one of these homemade solutions a try and, before you know it, “you'll be going to your pantry for cleaning solutions instead of the cabinet under the sink.” Homemade green cleaners are also significantly cheaper than commercial cleaners.

When you consider that the homemade, natural cleaning solutions won’t damage your health and that making and using them will also save you money, switching over to the do it yourself natural route for cleaning seems like a no-brainer. Using safe products in your home have the great short-term benefits of saving you money but the long-term benefits for you and your family’s health are even more important.

“You can mix up a cleaner for 1/10 the price of a regular ‘over the counter’ cleaner from a grocery store,” Leslie explains. “Just think: a gallon of vinegar costs around $3 and will make two gallons of all purpose cleaner. If I do my math correctly, that’s1 cent an ounce! And will be safe and healthy for your family and pets! Think of what you would save in medical and vet bills.”

While Leslie says there are more and more people who seem open to trying natural cleaning products, she says a lot of people are still skeptical as to whether or not they actually work. It’s like somewhere along the way we were led to believe that nothing can be truly clean if it hasn’t been treated with a bright blue solution or a product that smells so strong your nose and eyes sting and water.

“We have been programmed to ‘kill’ bacteria in our homes and people don’t believe that green cleaners will get rid of the bacteria,” Leslie says. “Actually, they do kill bacteria—you just have to use the correct ingredients and use them in the right proportions. Vinegar kills 98% of bacteria, tea tree oil is a great anti-bacterial product and hydrogen peroxide has been used for years in the medical field. All of these are in my recipes and work great for killing germs.”

Leslie has found, however, that all she needs to do to convince people that you can remove stains, get streak-free glass, spotless counters and white toilet bowls with a natural cleaner, is to get them to try just one of her many green cleaner recipes.

“When I talk to a group, I always mix up samples of a DIY cleaner that everyone can take home and try,” Leslie says. “I also give them directions and ask them to let me know how it works. I always get positive feedback saying that it worked BETTER than their store bought cleaner. The trick is getting them to try it!”

If you want to turn over a new leaf and take a giant leap towards saving money and protecting your health, Leslie recommends you stock your pantry with a few of the green cleaning essentials: vinegar, baking soda, salt, borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, club soda and maybe an essential oil to give your homemade cleaners a nice calming scent. She says you should also check out the list of ingredients that Whole Foods created for its customers to show them how many grocery store ingredients can be used in do it yourself green cleaners.

Leslie says she loves the challenge of finding a new, better and safer way to clean, and she hopes that people will continue to give her new cleaning challenges so she can continue to surprise them when she comes up with a natural solution for even the most seemingly impossible cleaning dilemma.

“People need to know that the things we use in our homes affect our families and our pets,” Leslie says. “I have seen huge changes take place for people that make small changes, for example changing to a homemade laundry soap instead of a detergent. Little changes can make a big difference—one spray bottle at a time.”

Wouldn’t you like the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you don’t have to lock the cupboard under your kitchen sink because your toddler won’t find a stock of potentially deadly cleaners there, that your tub and shower cleaner or the solution you use to clean kitchen counters and the sink aren’t damaging your lungs, or that your laundry detergent won’t cause your children to break out in a rash?

The next time you run out of glass or toilet bowl cleaner, think about how you could green up your cleaning routine. It’s easy and you owe it to your wallet, yourself and your family. Take Leslie’s advice and walk past the grocery aisle that sells the over-priced and harmful commercial cleaners and pick up a jug of white vinegar, a big box of baking soda and a lemon instead. Happy green cleaning!


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  2. Anonymous6:51 PM

    I own a house cleaning service I did try to use green seal products, but they were not quite up to par with the conventional products. Still my favorite green cleaner recipe that i do swear by is 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water for hardwood floors. It works way better than murphy's oil soap in my opinion, and it is a natural disinfectant and deodorant.

  3. Artificial substances in standard cleaning products can have severe effects on individuals, creatures, and the planet. Over time, many individuals have come to realise that most traditional cleaning solutions contain harmful amounts of poisons that can trigger various health issues. Thus, the need for green cleaning.

  4. Sounds wonderful..I have been testing out and researching natural and frugal cleaning products for a few years now. So much better than the other options.