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Slowly Going Green: Making the cleaning product switch

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

From caustic to non-toxic

Are you hoping to "go green" but have no idea where to start? Or perhaps the idea of "greening up" your life is a little overwhelming, like it was for me. We have solutions! Stick with me each week as I make suggestions for going green, one baby step at a time. This week, we'll tackle green cleaning products.

green-cleaning-products


Green cleaning products. When I first heard the phrase, it sounded like an oxymoron to me. In my germaphobic mind, cleaning products just had to be filled with chemicals -- with names I couldn't pronounce -- to work. Take out the scary chemicals, leave behind the bacteria. Right?

Actually, no. It turns out that's not the case. According to WebMD, "These [chemical-filled] products don't work any better than their natural or non-toxic counterparts, and they damage the environment and potentially place our long-term health at risk."

I had my "aha!" moment when I was cleaning off my son's high-chair tray with a harsh chemical cleaner. He put his little hand into the spray, then touched his face. Sure, I should have done that after I took him out of the chair, but the fact is that even if he weren't there when I cleaned it, the residue would remain later. I'd pour his Cheerios all over the same tray and he'd pluck them up and pop them in his mouth. Cereal with a side of ammonia? Yikes.

1Baby steps

Clorox Green Works

The idea of going from using ammonia-containing glass cleaners to wash my windows and bleach to disinfect my toilets to homemade mixtures containing vinegar was a little too much, though. So my first step was trading out a few everyday products -- like the ones I used to clean my son's high chair -- for green cleaning products made by a mainstream brand.

Wandering the aisles one day, I saw Clorox Green Works and thought, "Those are from the company that makes my beloved bleach! They can't be all bad." So I gave up a few of the cleaning products I'd used for years and integrated in a handful of green ones.

2Exploring options

Method antibac

Truth be told, I didn't love the smell of the green cleaning products I'd bought. Still, I realized that they worked just as well so I stuck with them. At some point, I was ready to take the plunge. I wanted to trade out everything I used to clean for green products -- and I wanted more options. I asked around and found that Method and Seventh Generation were favorites among my friends.

I chose Method and fell in love. OK, that's a little dramatic -- although I've always been somewhat, ahem, obsessive about cleanliness, so maybe it's not that much of an overstatement for me. My entire cleaning tub is now filled with Method products. And as it turns out, they work wonderfully. They also smell good -- clean without the suffocating chemical "aroma" that I was used to for so many years.

Find the top green cleaning products>>

3Going for broke

vinegar

While I'll never give up my beloved (again with the drama) Method cleaning products, I have began mixing some of my own homemade solutions from simple ingredients like vinegar, water, baking soda, essential oils, water and more. Just don't go crazy and mix all of those together at once. We'll talk more about making your own products later.

If you just can't wait, get tips on making your own green cleaning products>>

For now, if you're just getting started on your green journey, take a few baby steps and trade out one or two traditional cleaners for green cleaners. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

More on green living

10 Fun tips to raise a green family
5 Green kitchen gadgets
How to green every part of your life

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