When I was younger, I never really gave a second thought to the ingredients in my cleaning products. As long as they did their jobs, who cares, right? But then I had a baby. And babies? They bring out the neurotic in people. Suddenly I was really thinking about my cleaning products. It started with the bathtub. The thought of cleaning it out with harsh chemicals and then plopping a fresh new human inside made me a little crazy.
When she got bigger, I started to think twice about the products I used to wipe down toys and tables and her high chair tray. When everything finds its way directly into her mouth, did I really want it coated in chemicals?
For me, the answer was a big, fat, bold, NO. And that no got bigger and bolder once my second (much messier) daughter was born.
Since then, I’ve tried a bunch of different products and found some that I loved and some that I hated.
My 5 favorite green cleaning products
The homemade kind
More often than not, I make my own products. Most of them include vinegar and essential oils (especially tea tree oil, which is antimicrobial and kills bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections). My favorite thing about making my own is that it’s not only effective, but it’s cheap. A 2 ounce bottle of tea tree oil will last months since you only need to use a few drops at a time.
The down side to making your own? It’s definitely more time consuming (although not by much) than picking something up while you’re at the store. Another negative is that they don’t always smell the best. Tea tree oil and vinegar both have pretty strong smells that my girls are not at all fond of. While you can mask them with other essential oils, it’s still not our favorite smell.
Sometimes it’s fine. The vinegar smell goes away as soon as it dries. But if I’m cleaning up real quick because we’re having people over, I’d rather use something that smells better.
Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar
Aunt Fannie’s is a great alternative to making your own. Like my homemade products, their cleaning vinegars are made mostly of vinegar and essential oils, but they’ve formulated it so you just get the yummy smell of the oils.
Aunt Fannie’s also packs a serious cleaning punch. For some reason people think you need heavy duty chemicals and bleach to get something really clean, but a few sprays of this stuff really does the trick—no elbow grease required. This is my current go-to cleaning product for our bathrooms.
Another bonus is that they’re made entirely from food-based ingredients, making them completely safe around food, kids, and pets. My girls love to help clean with Aunt Fannie’s and I’m not afraid to let them use them because they’re totally safe.
Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner
Three things really stand out when it comes to Method products: they smell incredible, their packaging is simple and beautiful, and their company is built around social and environmental good. I really love that last bit. Their bottles are made of recycled plastic (they even have a special line packaged in recycled ocean plastic); they sell refill packages to conserve water, energy and plastic; and their ingredients are responsibly sourced. I can 100% get behind a company like that. And it doesn’t hurt that their products work well too.
This guy here is my really heavy hitter. When most people are reaching for the bleach, I grab for Krud Kutter. This stuff can take care of anything from dried latex paint, mildew and smoke damage to grease and oil, marker, pet stains and lipstick. It is crazy effective and is made of biodegradable surfactants, detergents, and emulsifiers, in a water-based solution. It can be used around food preparation, but it’s not safe for kids as its an eye and skin irritant.
Consider it your earth friendly secret weapon.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
This one falls under the umbrella of my most versatile favorite. First of all, Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap smells delicious. I’m obsessed with peppermint and this is just so my jam (almond and rose sound really good too). But the most amazing thing about this soap is that you can use it on anything from your face (which I haven’t tried yet) to your floors. When I can be bothered to mop (which, to be honest, isn’t very often), I usually have some Dr. Bronner’s in my bucket.
But the thing we use it for daily is hand soap. We have a few foaming soap dispensers that we fill with some Castile soap and water. It’s fantastic. A little bit goes a really long way and it’s certified organic and vegan. It’s super gentle but highly effective.
Also, like Method, they are both environmentally and socially conscious. Their bottles are made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic, they’re certified fair trade, and they support a variety of causes that they believe in.