Green Cleaning Solutions

As your housekeeping manager, I would advise you to stop buying those fucking toxic chemicals that not only pollute the earth but also burn your lungs and give you a headache and make your skin break out in rashes. I’ve been investigating “green” cleaning solutions, and I came up with a concoction that is easy to make, effective at cleaning, and, best of all, cheap. Alls you got to do is get yourself some Borax, Baking Soda, Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap (preferably peppermint, simply cuz it smell good), and Vinegar.

For my All-Purpose solution, I mix 1/4 cup borax and 1/2 cup baking soda for every gallon of water (preferably warm to mix better), and then I squirt a bit of Dr Bronners peppermint soap up in there, amount is up to you. I then put this lovely smelling and clear admixture into a squirt bottle. It cleans effectively and you can aerosolize it all you want and it won’t kill you.

For glass and mirror cleaning, all you really need is vinegar and some newspapers. Make a spray bottle with 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water and wipe that shit down with a sheet of newspaper and you’ve got yourself a clean window. Or, alternatively, you can make a slightly stronger solution with 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup cornstarch for every gallon of warm water.

I’m switching over to these methods this fall for my housekeeping staff to dabble in, and I’ll see if it works on a grander scale. So far on my test trials it’s worked out just fine. The major problem, of course, in running an institution based on these household cleaners is that the All-Purpose solution won’t do much in terms of killing germs. But I’ve determined that it is just as effective to clean with this solution and then afterwards to spray down the surfaces with a Clorox Disinfecting Spray, which pretty much kills most anything. The Clorox spray ain’t “green,” but I gotta do what I gotta do to kill them germs. But at least I will have achieved the major goal of keeping my workers and myself from breathing in tons of aerosolized chemicals in the small confined space of a bathroom.

Oh, and for bathtub cleaning, use Bon Ami. This is a scouring powder which is non-toxic, and it works really good, especially with a scrub brush in hand.

And since now you’ve got all that Borax, Baking Soda, and Vinegar sitting around, I’ll let you know that those all have multiple household uses. Look it up on Google or or something, there’s a lot of info out there.

Another thing I would advise is that you stop using chemicals to kill household pests like ants, roaches, etc.

For ants: spray vinegar around door and window frames and ant trails. They also dislike mint, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. For ant bait, mix together baking soda and sugar and sprinkle along the cracks along the wall and in doorways. Borax and sugar mix will also work, just don’t place where other animals (or small children) can access it.

For spiders: they dislike eucalyptus oil.

For mice: they don’t like mint. Distill spearmint oil and spray around entryways. You could also just try brewing yourself some mint tea and dropping or spraying that as well.

You see, all those pre-made toxic chemical solutions that you buy in the store are a kind of conspiracy, in a way, just like all the other crap you buy and don’t really need and that creates waste and pollution and general unhappiness and discontentment. It’s a conspiracy of convenience. Making your own cleaning supplies, making your own food, fixing your own stuff–all of this is suddenly almost taboo. It’s like supposedly our civilization is all smart and advanced and we are plumbing the deepest mysteries of the human brain and genomes, etc. And yet we’ve forgotten how to mend our own clothes. We’ve forgotten how to cook our own food. We’ve forgotten what it is to take care of ourselves, and we’ve slowly let corporate convenience dominate our lives. And all it really comes down to is someone else making money off your ignorance and laziness. Sermon over.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

13 thoughts on “Green Cleaning Solutions”

  1. You can use vinegar to kill weeds as well instead of weed killer. My neighbor uses it and the smell is so strong not to mention it kills all the bugs, their bodies are strewn all over the pavement.

  2. Hey Mark, are you sure Dr Bronners doesn’t kill germs? I’ve been using it to wash my butt & all manner of things. We can get it in bulk down here at the Berkeley Bowl, around the corner.

    We’ve had some ant invasions. Jenny’s been using Clorox, but I use my fingers. Non-toxic & much more interactive.

  3. Dr Bronners does kill germs, of course, it being a soap and all. So it will serve just fine in terms of cleaning your ass and your own household. However, here at camp with the many people coming through from all over the place, often along with their children, it becomes important to try to kill all germs on bathroom surfaces–soap will kill some, but not all. If it did kill all then you wouldn’t want to use it on your ass.

  4. this is so good i only feel comfortable with repetition:

    “As your housekeeping manager, I would advise you to stop buying those fucking toxic chemicals that not only pollute the earth but also burn your lungs and give you a headache and make your skin break out in rashes”

    yes. yes. and, well, yes.

  5. Also, mysterious bugs have been eating our basil plant. Jenny says you can just spray it with garlic-water. If that works, why doesn’t the cotton industry use it? What’s going on? When you buy organic basil in the market, it doesn’t have any more bug bites?

    1. Try some Peppermint Dr. Brommers on those white flies, works great, I put a tablespoon or so into about a liter of water and give the plant a good spray. Knocked right back. Might need to re-apply, but I haven’t yet and its been a good week. Non-toxic, smells great, didn’t hurt the plant…score.

  6. Do you know what kind of bugs? Are they white flies? Jonathan has been having a hell of a time with white flies on his tomato plant. If it is white flies, you can try yellow sticky traps and vacuuming them off the underside of the leaves with a gentle vacuum.
    I think I’ve heard of the garlic spray thing. It’s certainly worth a shot. The reason the cotton industry doesn’t use it, I would guess, is because agri-business is only interested in money, and in order to protect the largest amount of plants from the multitudinous amount of pests that are out there, they need more than just garlic water solution.
    Organic basil would ideally be grown in a more balanced ecosystem, where nature would take care of pests through a series of induced checks and balances–birds would take care of some of the pests, or another kind of plant or flower grown alongside the basil would slough off pests onto them.

  7. Here’s a thought that would never have occured to me (about soap):

    “…At the same time, new products were being marketed for household use that were never designed with sewage treatment plants (or aquatic systems) in mind. In addition to biological wastes, people began to pour all kinds of things down the drain: cans of paint, harsh chemicals to unclog pipes, bleach, paint thinners, nail-polish removers. And the waste itself now carried antibiotics and even estrogen from birth control pills. Add the various industrial wastes, cleaners, chemicals, and other substances that will join household wastes, and you have highly complex mixtures of chemical and biological substances that still go by the name of sewage. Antimicrobial products – like many soaps currently marketed for bathroom use – may sound desirable, but they are a problematic addition to a system that relies on microbes to be effective.”

    -William McDonaugh & Michael Braungart, “Cradle to Cradle”, pg. 101.
    This book is about creating systems to be sustainable & infinately recyclable – separating the biodegratable from the technologically recyclable materials. They suggest that we have a lot to clean up before sewage can be used as nourishment, in a traditional sense.

  8. That’s interesting. You know, I’ve always had a vague suspicion about anti-bacterial soaps. Like, isn’t soap just normally supposed to kill germs? So why would we need this Purell shit that kills 99.999% of them? It seems a little overkill, in fact dangerous, considering that our bodies rely on thousands of benevolent microbes in order to function properly. Once again, American over-zealousness is demonstrated.

  9. Hi “Bubbler,”

    I totally agree w/ you regarding the use of vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner (it works well on counters too!). I started using this b/c I didn’t want Bjorn exposed to more toxic crap than he already has to be exposed to just from living in L.A.

    I’ll have to look for Bon Ami…

  10. I’ve got a nice natural addition to make to the above solutions: I just discovered a botanically based disinfectant which is strong enough to act on a hospital disinfectant level (kills HIV and TB, and further is a mildewcide, fungicide, etc). It’s called Benefect, check it out at It sounds magical, it’s so ingenious. I’m going to switch my chemicals at work over from Clorox Disinfecting Spray (which you can feel degenerating your lung tissue when you breathe it in) to Benefect first thing this spring.

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