Several years ago I used to own dozens of cleaning products. I used one for the toilet bowl, another for the tub, another for the toilet seat, another for the mirrors, another for the refrigerator, another for the kitchen counters, etc. and so on. I bought into the notion that I had to use a different product on each individual surface. It was costly, wasteful, and harmful to both myself and the environment.
Now my home cleaning routine is actually a far cry from the photo above. As you may have guessed, since this blog is titled Cheap Eco Wanderer I don’t use cleaning materials that require disposable gloves as protection. In fact, half of the cleaning products I use are applied directly to my skin. That’s right, one of the two – count them two – household cleaning products I own is also used as hand soap.
What are these miracle of miracle products, you ask?
Castile soap and vinegar. That’s it.
Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is a wonderful product that B and I use for hand soap, dish soap, and to clean our granite countertops (vinegar is too acidic for granite). The soap comes in a concentrated form, which means more soap for your money and per plastic bottle, thus reducing the number of plastic soap bottles we use. Once again, it’s concentrated, so it’s important to dilute the soap prior to using. The bottle’s label has a breakdown of how diluted the soap should be depending on what is being washed – clothes, hands, dishes, hair, pets, etc. It can be used for all of those things. Really.
Dr. Bronner’s comes in a variety of scents, as well as in a solid bar form. I buy the liquid version of whichever 32 oz. bottle is on sale for $9.99 at my local organic grocery store. You can also purchase it on Amazon, Whole Foods, or other locations. Each 32 oz. bottle lasts the two of us at least four months. Like I said, that’s day in and day out use for washing our hands and our dishes (and we have a lot of dishes, believe me).
Just plain ol’ white vinegar. Now, before I go any further I’d like to clarify that I hate the smell of vinegar. I don’t like how it smells. I can’t stand salt & vinegar chips. I initially balked at the thought of using it as a cleaner. So don’t jump ship if you’re like me and can’t fathom your whole house reeking of this acidic substance. Luckily, vinegar absorbs the smell of aromatic materials quite well. I’ve read about people using lavender stems, but I use citrus peels (oranges, limes, lemons) because they’re much easier and cheaper to come by. I simply drop the rinds of the citrus fruits in the vinegar bottle and a few days later I have a citrus-smelling cleaner.
I usually buy the 64 oz. size of grocery-store brand white vinegar for a few bucks. Diluted to whatever potency I wish, each bottle lasts the two of us six+ months. We use vinegar to clean the mirrors, the sinks, the stove top, the toilet bowl and seat, the shower, the tub… like I said, pretty much everything but the granite kitchen counters, our hands, and the dishes.
With both Castile soap and vinegar, we use old rags that we simply throw in the laundry once we’re done using them.
Done and done.
Okay, I lied a little. We have one more thing we use to clean – a broom & dustpan combo we found in the garbage room of our old apartment building. Since we only have laminate and tile flooring, that’s about all we need. If we had carpet, we’d use a bag-less vacuum.
Now I’m really done.