Green Housekeeping

I go through phases. I am more green sometimes than other times.  A few months ago I ordered this book, Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck, but then never got around to reading it.

Last week I started flipping through it because I wanted to know the best way to clean the surface of my mother’s old maple drop-leaf table, mid-century early American, solid wood.  The finish is very thin and in a few places is gone. I may go ahead and strip the top and put a polyurethane finish on it since it’s now getting used daily, but I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on that project, so I wanted  to just do the best, safest job I could of cleaning it up.

Murphy’s Oil Soap, according to Sandbeck. 1/4 cup per gallon of water.  It took some elbow grease but it did a pretty good job. I’m pleased, plus I have leftover cleaner and have started cleaning my kitchen cabinets.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I was told that Murphy’s is what the Servants Guild at St Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas uses, and they take that very seriously.

She gives recipes on making your own furniture polish and oil, your own cleaners, mainly using castile soaps or grain-based vinegar.

Guess what I bought today. A gallon of vinegar and a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Castile Liquid Soap.

Citrus because I like the scent, but the choices were wide open, from lavender to almond to peppermint, etc. Dr Bronners has been around for about 90 years. The labels are a hoot to read because there about some wacked out interesting religious ideas (no offense to anybody who shares them; I’m sure some of mine are wacked out, too).

And to my delight, they are not only certified fair trade, organic, and made in the USA but are also, according to this website, union made.

Our first exposure to “fair trade” was when we attended a service at Wells Cathedral in England. Afterward they had tea and biscuits (very traditional in the Anglican traditional to have coffee, tea, etc. after service for fellowship) and also a fair where they were selling a lot of craft items, including some from various missions around the world that were fair trade.  It was very important to everyone there that things were fair trade, and they were certainly happy to educate us about it.

Another thing I have done this week is throw away all my sponges. Did you know the dirtiest thing in your house is probably your kitchen sponge? And even if you laundered it after every use, it’s highly unlikely that the water would get hot enough to kill the bacteria. Handwashing it with soap in the sink doesn’t work. Putting it in your dishwasher not only doesn’t work–it spreads the bacteria all over your “clean” dishes.  What kinds of bacteria? As nasty as you can think of. E coli, staph, etc.

And what do we do with those nasty bacteria incubators? We wipe them all over every surface to spread the joy!

Makes you want to lick your countertops, doesn’t it?

The nice part is that the stuff she recommends you use for cleaning is easy to get and inexpensive. She gives science and sources to back up her facts.

Oh, and her best advice ever? In order to stop fighting with whites, trying to keep those white  towels and sheets as white as new?

Don’t buy white sheets and towels.

Now that’s advice I can get behind.

My new towels are Emerald Blue and Soft Butter.

Do you follow any green cleaning habits or use earth-safe products? Which ones?

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1 Comment

Filed under Books, Green, Household, Housekeeping

One response to “Green Housekeeping

  1. denise

    I use vinegar and baking soda sometimes–together and apart. My neighbor sells a brand of “green” cleaners–Melaleuca. Although, I don’t think all the products actually contain melaleuca (a myrtle tree/shrub/plants in Australia ). The products are so-so.

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