If you think “eco-friendly” cleaning products are a waste of money or unnecessary…read on to clean green for the holidays, save money, and improve the health of your home too!  Here are the k.o. ecolife quick picks (found in virtually every grocery store and pharmacy) for easy alternatives to clean green and make your home sparkle for the holidays:

1. Wood Polish 
HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|murphys-oilGood ol’ Murphy’s Oil Soap (32 fl. oz., about $6) for cleaning and polishing wood floors and furniture.  It was grandma’s favorite so why did we ever switch?  Oh yes, to replace that smell of natural vegetable-based soap for the artificially scented, “garden fresh”, chemical mix of toxins.

Most floor and furniture polishes contain glycol ethers which are liquid solvents commonly found in paint.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that short-term, high-level exposure to glycol ethers can induce unconsciousness, fluid in the lungs, and severe liver/kidney damage.  With regular use, these toxins are constantly reintroduced into your home causing wooden tables, chairs, and floors to be coated with the stuff.

2. All-purpose (& Glass) Cleaner HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|white-vinegar
The best solution is a mix of ½ white vinegar (64 fl. oz., $4-5) and ½ water in a spray bottle for all purpose cleaner.  We like using old newspaper (in place of paper towel or cloth) to prevent streaks on mirrors and glass table tops. (However, don’t forget to wear rubber gloves or you’ll be wearing the newspaper ink.)

HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|vodka-shotA tiny shot of vodka can also be added for faster, streak-free drying.  Actually, rubbing alcohol can be used too but a shot of vodka during the holidays makes cleaning so much more fun!  For general cleaning, a few drops of lemon juice or essential oil can also be added for scent.

Most glass cleaners contain ammonia and artificial colorants to give it that beautiful Caribbean blue.  Ahhhh, off to the islands…or not (cough, cough, gag, gag).  No! Instead, you’re breathing in a chemical that is “very corrosive and damaging to the cells” according to the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.  So, why clean our mirrors with it?  Better to go with a natural alternative.

3. Bathroom Cleanser
HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|method-dish-soapHOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|dr-bronners-soapFor general cleaning and brightening, mix 1 cup baking soda (16 oz. $1-1.50) with ½ cup water or organic soap like Method (18 oz $4) or Dr. Bronner’s (32oz $14).  Scrub on tile, chrome, or grout and rinse with water.  Good pre-made options include biodegradable scouring powder with mineral abrasives like HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|bon-ami-canBon Ami (12 oz $1.5-2) and non-chlorine oxygen bleach cleanser [i.e. sodium carbonate (baking HOW-TO-CLEAN-GREEN-FOR-THE-HOLIDAYS-AND-SAVE-MONEY-TOO|oxy-clean-babypowder) treated with hydrogen peroxide], such as Oxi-Clean Baby (48 oz. $8).  However, whenever you are buying pre-made solutions that advertise as “all natural”, check the ingredients to confirm or you can also reference the ‘clean green’ product ratings at Environmental Working Group’s Easy Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Why is chlorine bad?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (determined nearly 20 years ago), it has been linked to ozone depletion and endocrine disorders in humans and wildlife.  [NOTE: Do NOT mix bleach with other cleaning products containing ammonia or acid-based cleaners (including vinegar) as it has been known to cause death.]  So, please don’t decide to clean the toilet with the all-purpose cleaner mentioned above and add chlorine bleach to kill any possible remaining germ at the deepest recesses of your toilet bowl.  You have enough to do anyway.  A trip to the hospital is not on “the list” –

Happy Holidays All!

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Note: Post originally shared from k.o. kidz (now d/b/a k.o. ecolife) December 2014.