Part of the vegan lifestyle is to not purchase products that have been tested on animals or made from animals. My family also lives as “green” as possible, making our search for cleaning supplies even more challenging. I’m often asked what products we use for cleaning. I’ve tried out a variety of products, and I’ve found the following to work best (and we are really good at making BIG messes!):
- White vinegar. Yes, this simple and inexpensive liquid cleans amazingly well. If you want sparkling windows and mirrors, or just an all around clean surface, vinegar is your power liquid. Some people mix it with water and/or a drop or two of tea tree oil and squirt it onto surfaces. I prefer to just dump a little on a nice flour sack style white cotton kitchen towel, then wipe my surfaces with it (microfiber cloths work excellent, too, even with plain water). I then use the dry side of the towel for wiping the vinegar up and making sure there are no streaks. I never have any and it is great! Vinegar is great for getting rid of old cleaning product films, too. When you want exceptionally soft clothes (or if you have any bodily fluids on your dirty clothing), put a couple of Tablespoons of vinegar in your bleach compartment. Vinegar even cleans up urine stains on carpet and furniture from animals and little kids. Combine this with good ol’ sunshine and you’ll get a thoroughly clean item. For clogged drains, try a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Put the baking soda in first, then the vinegar. Close the drain if you can. Let your kids make volcanoes in the sink while it cleans itself.
- Bi-O-Kleen laundry detergent. This excellent product is all we ever use for laundry detergent. ONE (yes, one) tablespoon is all you need for a full load of laundry. Our clothing comes out perfectly clean with no stains. This product is safe for the environment and costs less per load than non-environmentally safe alternatives. We also wash all of our clothing on cold/cold. When we still had a baby in (cloth) diapers, we used Bi-O-Kleen and vinegar and washed all diaper loads on hot/cold, then again on cold/cold. This double washing was probably overkill. We use Bi-O-Kleen in foam dispensers for hand washing in our kitchen and bathrooms.
- Goo Gone. This product is one of the world’s greatest inventions. Citrus power cleans all of our goo off all of our stuff. DVD stickers are instantly gone with Goo Gone. So are crayon stains, Sharpie marks, and a variety of other messes that you probably don’t want to keep permanently. This stuff lasts a really long time, too, since you don’t need much. If you haven’t tried Goo Gone yet, you’ll be amazed! It really makes your goo be gone. 🙂
- Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. When all else fails (which it seldom does), this tough product erases your mess. I keep a box in my kitchen just in case. I’m on my second box and I’ve been using these since they first came out. Amazing!
- Boiling water. Contrary to all logic, boiling water gets rid of all berry stains, no matter where the stain is — the hotter the water, the better. We’ve gotten berry stains out of clothing, carpets and more with boiling water. Just be careful to not burn yourself. For a particularly large stain, try pouring the boiling water on the item more than one time.
- Tea Tree Oil (there are many brands, my favorites are Melaleuca and Desert Essence. When you need something to be disinfected, a drop of tea tree oil can do the job. You only need a drop, with a whole pan of water, as this stuff is very concentrated and powerful. There are a lot of cleaning products and beauty supplies made using tea tree oil. I’ve never appreciated the cleaning products, since I’ve found the above materials to work better and for a significantly smaller price. OTOH, I’ve loved some of the shampoos and other beauty products that I’ve used with tea tree oil. I don’t find them “necessary”, but they are a fun extravagance when you feel like it. I’ve been using tea tree oil for over eleven years now and I am still very happy with it. Try it on acne next time you have an outbreak.
- For dish cleaning, we either use Trader Joe’s liquid dish soap and liquid dish washer soap, or another similarly environmentally conscious brand (depending on where we are shopping when we are running low on these products). We are careful about what we put back into the Earth, especially with our plans to use a large gray water system.