Sunday, April 13, 2014

Safe Cleaning for You and Your Pets

I’m on a mission; not only for my cats’ health but for my own. I’m using as many homemade, safe and non toxic items as I can as opposed to chemicals to clean.

I stopped using sprays like Fantastic or 409 for my counter tops and Windex for my mirrors and windows. I now use a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water and if I need to disinfect something more than that, I use straight hydrogen peroxide. Because of it's acidic nature, vinegar cannot be used on natural stone counters, floors and tiles. I also don't use any dish detergents with phosphates, dyes or fragrances. But vinegar and baking soda is great to use on baked on pots and pans.

Usually I use a stove top cleaner called, Cerama Bryte cook top cleaner for my ceramic flat top stove. It says its eco friendly and biodegradable and it does not contain phosphates. However its main base is citric acid together with some other oil based liquids. I don’t know what those liquids are and citric acid can burn the skin. Seeing as how I don’t know if my cats jump on top of that surface at night when I’m asleep, (I can only imagine they do), I chose to stop using it and tried simple baking soda and vinegar. 

I sprinkled a little bit of baking soda on my stove top and sprayed it with the vinegar and water solution. I then took the same special scrub sponge I normally use with it, made especially for ceramic stove tops and voila! Clean as a whistle! I had to rinse really well though to make sure I got all the baking soda off just to be sure. But it worked like a charm, there’s no residue and it’s now safer for them. 

Next I switched from using Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to adding some baking soda and pouring a bit of straight white vinegar in the bowl. It fizzes and also works to unclog anything stopped up in the drain. I used my regular toilet brush (no chemicals on it) and it worked great! (No my cats don’t drink out of the toilet bowl but I still want to use safer cleaning items for myself).

I then took that same spray bottle with the vinegar and water solution and cleaned the rest of the toilet. For a great disinfectant fill another spray bottle with pure hydrogen peroxide and spray on the toilet seat and wipe. I also used the vinegar/water and baking soda to clean my sink and again, it worked really well; shiny, now safe for kitties to walk on it, and no toxins for me either. I did the same thing for the shower, used the baking soda and vinegar/water solution. And gone is the Scrubbing Bubbles spray bathroom cleaner.

For cleaning my floors, I use a Bissell Steam Mop but will not use the chemical laced cleaner pads that you can buy to go with them. I should have bought a Shark steam mop instead as it has a washable pad that comes with it but after spending $50 on the steam mop and liking the way it works, I’m keeping it. So instead I use some thick Swiffer dry pads and fill the tank with another 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Even works well on my laminate hardwood floors. Apparently though vinegar should never be used on natural stone of any kind whether it's the floor, counter tops or bathroom. Here is a great alternative to vinegar:

Next is the furniture. Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause skin and lung cancer. They contain nitrobenzene, which is easily absorbed through the skin and extremely toxic. Since cats absorb everything through their skin very easily and lick it off, this was bothering me a great deal. I researched for days and found something about coconut oil. I tried it but it smears and doesn’t absorb into the wood. Then I found a recipe, non toxic, easy to make and shines like the dickens! I went the extra step and used organic apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Be aware that the organic ACV smells much stronger than regular but the smell does fade. Please do not use any fragrances, natural or not, as things like citrus of any kind and essential oils are toxic to cats. If you can, dust and polish when you’re able to open some windows for a few minutes to air the place out. Otherwise, just wait it out, the smell fades.
Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 tsp. of olive oil. The vinegar removes dirt from furniture and the olive oil shines without greasing. This homemade polish is safe for homes with kids and pets, and it's gentle enough to be used on most any surface that needs polishing. As you can see, my wood looks amazing! In fact, it hasn’t shined like this since I bought it years ago.
I no longer have carpets anywhere in my house but I did find these instructions and I know these ingredients are safe. Again, follow only the pet stain formula and don’t use any fragrances or essential oils:
Basic Pet Stain Formula

Try this on stains that have already set. Caution: test first on a hidden area
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
Note: You may be tempted to use a scrub brush for this treatment, but you risk splitting the carpet fibers if you work it too vigorously.

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Liquid glycerin soap (or dish soap)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, and work the mixture well into the stain using a clean white towel. Blot well, and let dry. Once the area is dry, sprinkle baking soda generously over the spot. Mix together 1/4 cup peroxide with 1/2 tsp liquid soap then pour the soap mixture over the baking soda to dissolve it into the nap of the carpet. Work the paste down deep into the fibers. Blot again, and let dry. Vacuum to remove the residue. You may have to repeat this treatment on persistent stains. 
Last year we started using straight white vinegar as bug repellent around the house and yard. I couldn’t believe how well it works. You have to reapply it every so often, maybe once every couple of weeks to a month, but it does the job and you don’t have to worry about fumes or anything. We had these awful red bugs infesting our tree in the yard. They took over and multiplied like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. One year they were swarming the house and coming in everywhere. They don’t bite or anything but were an awful nuisance. I got desperate and sprayed chemicals on that tree for three straight years but it didn’t work that well and I hated handling that stuff. I decided last year to try the vinegar and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I just dumped half a gallon jug of straight white vinegar on the tree and they were completely gone, the tree was fine.
I also take a spray bottle and go around the foundation on a nice day to get rid of anything like ants, crickets, etc. trying to get in. You can even spray it indoors as well, especially if you get ants in the kitchen area.
Vinegar is simply amazing and although it's not the greatest smell there is, the smell does wears off fast and I am very pleased with how well it cleans and how safe it is. My advice if you want to go green, get yourself a couple of gallon jugs of white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. The uses are endless.


Evangeline said...

Thanks Lisa! I use vinegar for many things. Truly awesome how well it works.

Unknown said...

Vinegar and baking soda (separately and in combination are our go-to cleaning products)

White vinegar dissolves hamster urine spots (in their cages) and baking soda has never met a grease spot or stain that it can't beat.

IBDKitties said...

Great to know about the hamster urine spots. That must mean it's good for all pet stains.

Eileen Fazzini said...

Great tips. Thanks, Lisa!!

kittyquartetmom said...

Not to mention how cheap vinegar is. Even if you get the brand name - which you really dont have to. I do want to mention that Seventh Generation also makes good safe products. I use their good for wood cleaner on my cabinets. I also use their granite cleaner as I can't use vinegar and baking soda on the counters.

IBDKitties said...

I had thought about using Seventh generation dishwashing liquid at one point but I looked it up and there is a chemical in it that's not safe. methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone. It's disappointing that they use it too. Plus they have essential oils in it which is toxic to kitties: I just looked it up and it says it on their products page. Also I see that they use sulfates. sigh. I swear they all just say what they want is natural and it isn't.

Jobi Harris said...

Thanks for the great tips. I am one of probably a few, who really like the smell of vinegar - maybe because pickles are my favorite snack.

Home Cleaning said...

Great post! Been reading a lot about cleaning with vinegar. Thanks for the info here!

Lewis Simpson said...

Ah! I know exactly what you mean! I try to keep my health in check as well, so I've always felt a bit doubtful about chemical filled cleaners. I can take the smell of the cleaners I use well, but my cat's nose is super sensitive. She would hide as soon as she gets the gist of me about to start mopping the floors. Thank you for this post! This is actually going to be a big help, plus it's a pretty cheap alternative to regular cleaners. :)

Lewis Simpson

IBDKitties said...

Oh good! I'm so glad to hear this post will help others. I am super sensitive myself and I feel strongly that the chemicals are neither good for us or our kids. Whether they are fur or human.

Office and home cleaning service Barnes said...

As a professional cleaner , I can tell that your tips are really useful! I hope more people will choose the green cleaning!

IBDKitties said...

Thanks so much! Please feel free to pass these tips on to people with pets, kids, etc. or just to use things safer than chemicals.

Brunilda Prim said...

Love these ideas. I need to take a minute or two or ten to figure out how to do more of this here in my own home.