**This post is sponsored by Branch Basics. All opinions are my own.**
Toxic Cleaning Supplies
When I’m out in public (which I often am, since I write posts at coffee shops), there are sometimes people who are cleaning tables or windows around me. Of course, they’re using the typical harsh-chemical cleaning supplies. I find it a bit hard to breathe, and just hope they finish quickly and go away. When I was newly pregnant this time, sometimes these cleaning supplies would make me feel nauseous, and I would need to leave the room to get away from the smell.
There’s a good reason why: they don’t just smell bad, they contain harsh, and often dangerous chemicals.
Chemical cleaning solutions are intended to, well, clean. Thoroughly. But the substances they use to do so can kill healthy bacteria on your skin (assuming you’re touching them to use them), they could hurt your skin, and they could cause breathing problems. For people with asthma, they could trigger attacks. They can also cause eye or skin irritation.
Have you seen the back of some of these bottles? They advise not getting too near these chemicals because the fumes could be harsh or harm you, and to call poison control if they get on your skin or in your eyes. And we use these chemicals to clean our homes, where our babies are breathing the air, and touching surfaces that might have poisonous residue….
Not to mention that frequent use of such chemicals can lead to poor indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is something I’m very concerned about after our mold exposure. You may not even realize what’s hanging out in your air…and which may be contributing to increased illnesses, especially in the winter when windows tend to be closed.
We need a better solution.
What About the Ol’ Standbys?
Most people turn to simple, homemade cleaning supplies, like vinegar and baking soda and sometimes essential oils. I like these things. I use these things. But these are not always the ideal choice.
First of all, essential oils are potent, and they can be strongly anti-bacterial. Sometimes that’s a good thing! If you’re cleaning up from raw meat, or cleaning a bathroom, or cleaning after someone’s been sick, then you want that. But for everyday general cleaning, it’s a little too much. Essential oils can, if overused, kill healthy gut flora if they’re anti-bacterial. We want to keep them for when they’re needed, and not everyday use.
Baking soda is excellent when you need something abrasive — I like to use it to clean sinks and tubs. But it’s not needed, or even advisable, for all surfaces. It could scratch wood, or even porcelain sometimes. (My bathtubs are plastic so it’s not an issue.) It’s great for some things, but not for all things.
Vinegar, too, has its place. We use it in the dishwasher, and I’ve used it to help disinfect non-porous items after they were exposed to mold. (I also used essential oils.) It’s great when you need a special cleaner. But, it does contain acetic acid, which can be hard for some people to deal with, breathing-wise. And some simply don’t like using vinegar because they don’t like the smell. It can’t be used for all uses, either, and white vinegar is usually made from GMO corn — so it might not be the best choice for surfaces your little ones will touch or mouth.
All of these things are good. And I do use them all. But for everyday use, I prefer something that’s a little safer and more general.
Choosing an All-Purpose Cleaner
I don’t love many of the “natural” cleaners on the market because I feel like they’re expensive — plus, they are often based on essential oils or other items that I like to save for specific uses.
I was introduced a while back to a company called Branch Basics. I’m actually pretty excited about this product. It can clean anything…and I do mean *anything.*
The cleaner is powerful enough to cut grease, germs, and more, yet it’s completely non-toxic on skin, in eyes (tear-free), or if swallowed. Not that they’re recommending you eat it or put it in your eyes…but it isn’t going to cause a problem. Which is cool if you are planning to use it for your baby! Not too many natural soaps are actually tear-free. (The other brands I usually use aren’t.)
They offer a starter kit, which contains a 32-oz. bottle of concentrate, plus an empty 32-oz. spray bottle, and an 18-oz. foaming pump. The concentrate would make 6 full spray bottles if you’re using it at all-purpose dilutions (1:5 ratio of soap to water). You need more for some uses, and less for others. Glass cleaning only requires 1/8 tsp. in a full spray bottle, while laundry needs 1 tbsp. of concentrate. Most uses are standard dilution.
The foaming bottle can be used for hand soap or body soap in the bathroom. My kids love our foaming soap because it’s fun to wash with! Even the littlest one can hold out a hand for the foam and “help” wash.
Branch Basics‘ soap contains only these ingredients: purified water, fatty acids, coconut oil, organic alcohol*, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed-bearing plants (*evaporated out during the manufacturing process). That makes it the safest soap I’ve ever heard of.
Does it work?
I used this product for several months last year (yeah, it lasts a long time) and liked the way it cleaned. My kids liked to use it too, and I didn’t have to worry about them doing so. It cleaned counters, mirrors, spills on the kitchen walls, and basically everything else I tried. It was a little weird doing dishes because it doesn’t foam up (unless you use the foaming pump) but that’s just because it doesn’t contain the chemical foaming agents that other products do — it’s actually safer, just not what I’m used to.
I typically pair this with microfiber towels.
The price is pretty good, too. The small starter kit is just $29.90 (sale price) (that’s the two empty bottles and the 32-oz. concentrate). It works out to $5.24 per bottle at standard dilution. If you’re using it for glass, it’ll last forever (and it’s crazy cheap — like $0.10 a bottle)! And it does 64 loads of laundry, or $0.47 per load. All in all, you can expect this bottle to last you several months, unless you’re doing some seriously heavy cleaning.
They also offer a large starter kit, which is an even better deal. It comes with 2 32-oz. spray bottles, an 18-oz. foaming pump, and a full gallon of concentrate, for $79.90 (sale price). That makes a standard-dilution bottle just $3.33, and a load of laundry $0.32. With 2 spray bottles, you could keep one with standard dilution on hand, and another prepped for glass. That saves you time. (And the bottles are marked with how full to fill with soap and water each.) This would probably last the average family 1 – 2 years.
Not to mention that this can replace your dish soap, laundry soap, hand and body soap, kitchen spray, bathroom spray, glass cleaner…. So if you’re looking to simplify your cleaning supplies and find safer brands of those items, you can do it all with just one product. How’s that for checking things off the goal sheet?
If you’re ready to try, now’s a great time — their kits are on sale, and you can get an additional 20% off with code CLEANYEAR20.
I like simple. I like frugal. How about you?
How are you choosing safer cleaning products this year?