Friday, April 3, 2009

kate reveals her all-natural cleaning product secrets

The spring peepers are calling like mad in my neighborhood, the herring have been sighted in the fish ladder and my forsythia is about to burst. Spring has arrived on the north shore of Massachusetts and the two days I've been able to open my windows wide has made me itch to do a big spring cleaning. As I round up favorite four (and my ONLY four) cleaning products I thought I'd share my secrets with the world. All you need are these, I'm serious:

Grab some empty spray bottles, a rag or newspapers (ditch the paper towels, a rag works great and you can throw it in the wash and newspaper is a great window cleaner) and you're ready for a toxin-free cleaning!

All-purpose cleaner: one part vinegar, four parts water and a splash of lemon juice, put in a spray bottle. This is the first thing I grab for cleaning counters, windows, sinks, sticky mystery messes my husband leaves on the kitchen table....

Safe scrub: baking soda, plain and simple. I get the biggest box the supermarket has and sprinkle it in my ceramic kitchen sink, my bath tub, my bathroom sink. Just moisten a bit and scrub. Everything is pearly-white in no time.

Floor cleaner: Equal mix of white vinegar and warm water. Add a splash of lemon juice for a yummy scent. For wood floors add a splash of baby oil. I admit, I loved my Pine-Sol. But it always left a chemically odor that I didn't want my newborn inhaling. All the ammonia is not only bad for her sensitive mucous membranes (not to mention mine) but unnecessary.

Drain de-clogger: pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a half cup of vinegar. Don't be alarmed when it foams up! That's how it works it de-gunking magic. Fifteen minutes later pour hot water down the drain to wash it all away. DON'T do this if you've already used a chemical cleaner, the vinegar will react with it and release toxic fumes. Best bet, start with baking soda and vinegar in the first place.

Mold remover: spray it with hydrogen peroxide. One part hydrogen peroxide three parts water.

And my favorite, courtesy of my chemist father-in-law (which I haven't actually tried yet but I'm itching to do because I love a good basic chemical reaction.):

All natural-magical-silver polish: Line a saucepan with aluminum foil and fill with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and baking soda and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling add your silver and let it sit for a minute or two then take it out. Voila! Tarnish-free AND far easier than doing all that polishing! Let me know if you try it and how it works out, my mother-in-law says this is the coolest thing ever and is mad that my father-in-law didn't show her this trick years ago!

What you're never going to need to clean your house:
ammonia: causes damage to mucous membranes and potential burns.
bleach: causes chronic respiratory damage and heart conditions.
antibacterial soap: a whole mess of health problems including antibiotic resistance for you and the creation of super-germs, just don't go there. Get them out of your life for good.

One of the best benefits of getting the scary chemicals above out of my house is I don't have to worry about my almost-crawling baby getting her grubby hands on toxic products and swallowing them.

Happy spring and happy toxin-free cleaning!! -kate


  1. Excellent suggestions ... thank you! Have you ever used hydrogen peroxide in your laundry? I've tried vinegar but it doesn't really whiten and brighten. And do you just use the hydrogen peroxide that one can buy in the grocery store or something stronger?

    Thanks for all the ideas!

    Small Footprints

  2. you're welcome! thanks for reading! I just use the same hydrogen peroxide I get at the drug store.

    And, yes, you can use hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent. I've actually never tried it, but you can use it as a spot cleaner to remove stains or add a cup to your laundry and it's supposed to work magic. I might try it soon on some of my more stained cloth diapers to see how well it works.

  3. Excellent post!!!
    It is amazing how many products are out there that are really more about consumerism than cleaning.

  4. Hi Kate! I wanted to thank you for inspiring my use of peroxide and the article I've posted today. Since you first posted this, I've experimented and learned a lot. So thank you, so much!

    BTW ... I've "stumbled up" this article ... hopefully a lot of people will read it and get inspired to make a change!

    Small Footprints

  5. Thanks for your post. I use Hydrogen Peroxide all the time. It goes in my laundry and my spray bottle for cleaning.

    I became a follower and post your link on my site.

    Thanks Again, Shari

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  7. Thank you for contributing to green cleaning. My favorite all natural products can be found at


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