August baby steps challenge: update

It’s time to report my progress on the August baby steps challenge, which is to switch to natural household cleansers.

I owe a big thanks to my readers, who came through with flying colors when I asked for tips and advice on this subject. I’ve read them all and made a list of what I need to buy and some options for different tasks. Thank you all so much!
So here’s what I’ve done so far:
1) I bought a bottle of Seventh Generation all-purpose cleanser to replace the 409. If I like it, great. Problem solved. If not, I have several other alternatives to try.
2) I saved an empty plastic jar of Ovaltine to use for Borax. That’s what I’m going to try for sinks, tubs, and anything for which I would have previously used Comet. I already have a box of Borax, in our last apartment I used it for insect control.
3) I put the remains of the 409 and Windex in the basement and asked my husband to use them up down there and in the garage and to save the empty bottles for me.
4) I made a list of all the ingredients I want to try and in what combinations. I have a few different options to replace Windex, and I’ll see which I prefer. And there are still several different options I want to try for all-purpose cleaning.
I’ll let you know how things progress. I have a feeling this baby steps challenge is going to take a little longer than a month. I’m going to borrow “Clean House, Clean Planet” from my friend and read through all your comments again because there are so many great ideas.
Also, I will be so happy if it’s true that I can keep my Oxi Clean and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Those are two products I love, so they’ll be sticking around if they are indeed environmentally friendly, as some of my readers suggested.
Thanks again for all your brilliant ideas and advice and links. I have enough information to completely transform our home into a non-toxic environment, and that makes me very happy.
Are there any store-bought cleaning products you just can’t live without? What’s your favorite homemade recipe? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section.


  1. saymoi says

    For the kitchen, I use Bronner's castille peppermint soap, vinegar, and water mixed in a spray bottle. It takes care of the grease on the stainless steel stove top and cleans the granite counter tops. The same mixture also worked great on the ants that infested my bathroom. Sorry ants! The only reason I use peppermint is because that's what I have on hand.

  2. WilliamB says

    @saymoi: what proportions? I've been looking for something for granite that doesn't make my kitchen smell like a chemical factory.

  3. WilderMiss says

    I can't give up Oxyclean or Lysol wipes. And I'm GOBSMACKED to hear that OxiClean might be eco friendly. Seriousy? Have you ever accidently inhaled the stuff? It seems toxic to me but I'd sure be happy if I could do laundry guilt free.

    Other than that the only cleaners I keep around are fantastic with bleach and windex. I love them both but am planning to try an eco-friendly or home made type when my bottles run out.

  4. saymoi says

    WilliamB – I don't use proportions. I just pour in some water, some vinegar and some Bronners and shake. Sometimes there's a layer of thick white foamy stuff, but ignore it.

  5. Carla says

    My good friend told me to mix rubbing alcohol and water half and half and put into a spray bottle for cleaning glass. This is, bar none, the best glass cleaner I have ever used. I'm not sure how "friendly" the alcohol is but it is definitely cheap and effective.

    For bathtubs I have long mixed white vinegar and dishwashing liquid at a 9:1 ratio and put into a spray bottle. Cheap, fast, effective. If I need a little scrub power along with it baking soda comes to the rescue.

  6. Angela says

    saymoi- Thanks! Dr. Bronner's is on my list, I'll definitely try that. When we have ant problems, I have no qualms about killing them. Sorry ant lovers, or Buddhists maybe.

    WilliamB- I was going to ask the same thing… thanks for coming back and letting us know, saymoi!

    Wildermiss- RE: Oxi Clean, I know what you mean. A reader told me that, and I verified it on their website. Now I have to find a "green" website to check their information. Those Lysol wipes are awesome but I've definitely given them up. They kind of choke me. My husband discovered them and it will be hard to get him to stop using them, but I'll find an alternative. I think any of these healthy combos that work sprayed into a rag will do the trick.

    Carla- yet another option for glass, thanks! And I love the idea for the tub, because I really don't feel like it always needs the Comet (or the granules).

  7. Penny Saver says

    I like the book "Better Basics for the Home". It has many recipes for home made cleaners, along with recipes for bath and beauty aids, and all are environmentally friendly.

  8. Angela says

    Penny Saver- Thanks for the suggestion- I'll check it out! I'm really excited about this project- it's better for our health and the environment, plus it saves money. And the bonus is we won't have to smell all those toxic odors anymore…

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