More Green For Less Green

Living more eco-friendly for less money


Saving With Green Cleaning and Beauty

For beauty and cleaning supplies, if you simply replace traditional commercial products with commercial eco-friendly products it really will hit you hard. You have to go into the green with a mentality of consuming and buying less.

One-for-one product replacement misses the point of going green since even the eco-friendly commercial products still come in plastic bottles, require shipping, and generate waste (or need to be recycled which uses energy).

Here are some ideas that might be worth trying: Can you use olive oil instead of lotion? Can you shampoo half as much as you do now? Can you make your own cleaning supplies for cheaper (with the added bonus of less packaging)? Can you buy castile soap in bulk and then use it for many things (from cleaning your home to cleaning your face)? Can you use baking soda instead of deodorant (just rub a generous pinch into each pit)?

Now, let’s move onto green cleaning specifically. I suggest reading the books Green Clean and Organic Housekeeping if you are serious about this kind of cleaning. OH talks about the science of cleaning and how it works (which makes you feel that you really can clean organically, if you are doing the right things) and gives some recipes. GC gives lots of recipes and is more anecdotal in tone.

Here are some common ingredients and where I found them (in Northern Virginia).

Washing Soda
If your grocery store doesn't have washing soda then request it! Barring that, you can get washing soda at Amazon or look for "PH Up" at a pool supply store. Get it for hot tubs and not pools as the pool kind tends to have other things added. Another place to look is an aquarium store since fish tanks need to have their PH changed. You want it to say 100% sodium carbonate on the label. It is also known as soda ash. It will be quite pricey at a pool store, though. I paid $8 for 1 pound at a pool store before I found it at a grocery store where it was $3 for 4 pounds.

I found borax at Wal-Mart in the laundry aisle. The brand I've seen at several places is called 20 Mule Team. It is also available on Amazon.

Fels Naphtha Soap
I haven't been able to find Fels Naptha Soap locally. Amazon sells it by the bar or in a package of thirty bars.

Instead, I decided to go with Dr. Bronner’s which they sell at Whole Foods. This will make a much milder product than the Fels Naphtha would. I currently am using the unscented/baby variety.

Most dry recipes call for grated soap, so I used our food processor to grate it into a chunky powder which I store in a jar.

Baking Soda
Baking soda in normal quantities can be found at any grocery store. I think I got my 4 lb box of baking soda at Wal-Mart in the laundry aisle. At work they have a twelve pound resalable bag of baking soda (probably from Costco), which I covet.

White vinegar can be found at any grocery store. The longer your jug lasts you, the longer between consuming plastic bottles, so the bigger the better!

Storage Jars & Spray Bottles
All of our dry cleaning mixes are stored reused jars. Containers that cannot be recycled are particularly good for this since otherwise they would just go in the trash. (We have a few #7 plastic ones.) Our spray bottles are from Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree. Some people save the spray bottles from commercial cleaning products to refill with their new homemade cleaners. Personally, I am hesitant to do this.

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