Cleaning green

There was a very amusing article on the front page of the Style section of the New York Times about a society version of a Shaklee home party. Women with names like Rockefeller and Hermes sat politely sipping decaf and listened to Sloan Barnett (her husband owns Shaklee) describe the horrors perpetrated on health and home by toxic cleaning products. (Surely this would be of greater concern to their housekeepers who actually deploy these products than the madames themselves. But whatever.)

Anyway, the article was amusing and it was a clever PR ploy on Barnett's part to promote Shaklee and raise awareness about environmental toxins. Bless her well-tended little head.

Other than Shaklee there are tons of eco-conscious products to choose from: Seventh Generation, Ecover, Method and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Supplies. We get the Eco-Products laundry detergent from Costco, which seems fine, and I've got to watch Mitch like a hawk so he doesn't bring home phosphates--the dude's price shopper.

Know what, though? You can also make your own.

Several years ago I did a story on herbs and received some great recipes for making your own cleaning supplies. Now I whip 'em up as housewarming gifts. They're cheap, and the smell, well, almost makes you want to get down on your knees and scrub. Almost. (Recipes provided by Alane Holsteen.)

Basic floral cleaning scrub


2 pounds baking soda

25 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

20 drops lavendar essential oil

15 drops rosewood essential oil


Combine all ingredients into a plastic shaker like a used herb bottle. This recipe is great for cleaning tubs, sinks, pots and pans. To make a more antiseptic cleaner substitute above essential oils with 50 drops tea tree oil.


Scented cleaning vinegar


1 gallon distilled white vinegar (Heinz)

½ tsp-3/4 tsp essential oil of your choice (lavendar, tea tree, lemon grass, lemon)


Combine ingredients. Add to cleaning water and…This is a great tile floor cleaner.


Lemon Balm Furniture Polish


8 ounce wide mouth glass jar

olive oil

dried lemon balm leaves

8 ounce squirt bottle

¼ cup lemon juice

50 drops lemon or lemon grass essential oil


Pack jar with lemon balm leaves. Pour olive oil to the top. Cover with a cheesecloth and rubber band and allow to sit outside in a sunny spot for one to two weeks. Strain out lemon balm. Add ¾ cup infused olive oil to 8 ounce squirt bottle. Add lemon juice and essential oil. Shake well. And rub it on wood furniture.


All-Purpose Household Cleaner


16 ounce spray bottle

16 ounces purified or distilled water

4 Tbs distilled white vinegar (Heinz)

1 tsp Borax

¼ cup liquid vegetable-based soap (Dr. Bonner’s)

½ tsp essential oil (tea tree, lavendar or orange)


Combine all ingredients. This is a great all-purpose. But should be followed with a vinegar rinse.


Comments (2) -

April 23. 2007 01:59


Thanks, thanks, thanks for the great recipes!  I've been looking for just these sorts of recipes!  

Nan |

June 29. 2007 11:21


or scared or stunted? Another mutual friend, who had such

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