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Shopping for Cleaning Products

Looking for cleaning products that are eco-friendly and up to the task? Many kinder-to the-environment products are widely available and equally effective. And that's a good thing because, according to conservative estimates by the Clean Water Fund in Washington D.C., the average American uses about 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products—like chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, phosphates, phthalates, petroleum products, and sulfuric acid—each year. These are chemicals that make their way into our waterways and may also linger in our home environment in our air, on our counters and in our clothes.

It's easy to make the switch to natural cleaning products—look for options in the co-op’s household supplies/cleaning aisle and consider making some simple green cleaning products from ingredients you probably have stocked in your pantry.

At the co-op, some things you might want to pick up are a natural, all-purpose cleaner and a glass cleaner. There are also excellent eco-friendly shower cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, floor cleaners, carpet cleaners, and spot and stain removers. You can even find natural, botanically-based disinfecting cleaners and wipes (commercial disinfectants are typically highly toxic). Don't forget dish liquid and dishwasher detergent, as well as a natural rinse aid (yep, those are available now, too). Opt for concentrates when possible, as well as post-consumer recycled plastic or cardboard containers.

For real savings, you might want to concoct some of your own natural cleaning supplies, using common household ingredients.

  • White vinegar can be used as softener in your washer's rinse cycle or combined with equal parts water for an all-purpose/glass cleaner.
  • Cornstarch can be sprinkled on carpet to freshen before vacuuming or made into a paste with water for cleaning silver.
  • Washing soda makes a great spray cleanser when combined with hot water (1 teaspoon soda per 2 cups of water) or a solution for soaking grimy items like barbecue grills (1 cup soda per sink-full).
  • Baking soda works wonders as a sink/tub scrubber or as a diaper pail freshener.
  • Plain liquid soap and a few essential oils combine for a scented cleaner with disinfecting properties.

For ease on cleaning day, stock all your cleaning supplies in a large galvanized bucket, along with some colorful washable cloths (instead of paper towels) for cleaning (add a bow—and maybe a book of natural cleaning tips—and you've got a great gift for a college freshman or newlywed, too!).

What are your favorite cleaning products, or—if you're a do-it-yourselfer—what are your best recipes for cleaning products?