31 Responses

  1. Darcy 1
    Darcy Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

    Sara ~
    Thanks for sharing the EWG website; for some time I thought that I was purchasing an environmentally safe (and therefore safe for my family) product with Green Works all purpose cleaner. Turns out it receives an F from EWG. Needless to say I plan on doing some research before settling on a new cleaner. I have recently seen ads from SC Johnson that claims they list all of their product ingredients but I am not sure if that is just on their website (which I did find to be true) or on the actual product as well. That being said, the few products of theirs that I checked on the EWG website did not receive any rave reviews. I guess it’s a step in the right direction to list the ingredients ~ knowing the ingredients can lead us to a more informed purchasing decision and to the choice that makes most sense for our family and our individual circumstances. Thanks for bringing awareness to the safety of our cleaning products!


  2. Leigh 3
    Leigh Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

    If you have a front loading washing machine how would you add the baking soda and the vinegar as the door lock when it turns on?


  3. Amy 5
    Amy Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

    I began been making my own household cleaners almost 20 years ago. I started mainly as an effort to quit poisoning the planet, but when I became a mother 11 years ago, I became very much interested in not poisoning my children – and not disrupting their hormones, either!

    I have used Dr. Bronner’s soaps and Sal Suds, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils for pretty much everything. I use Seventh Generation dish-washing liquid, as well, and not just for dishes, but for washing floors and general cleaning, too.

    I also use Sal Suds for my laundry detergent. I have a front-loading machine and use more like a teaspoon or two per load, along with vinegar in the rinse. My machine has a “fabric softener” dispenser that I put the vinegar in. The machine releases the vinegar during the rinse cycle. If I want to add baking soda or washing soda, I just add it to the detergent dispenser along with the Sal Suds.

    I have never had any problems using Sal Suds in my front-loader, but using too much detergent (of any kind) can ruin these machines, so you have to be careful.

  4. Deirdre 8
    Deirdre Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 9:49 pm |

    Have you found a source for Sal Suds locally…or do you order it online?

  5. Martha 10
    Martha Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 at 7:21 am |

    Wow! Thanks for the awesome website. Makes me sick thinking about some of these products that I have trusted, and used for so many years! And to think I was spending a little bit more, thinking I was getting a better product for my family.

  6. Dormilona 12
    Dormilona Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 at 10:37 am |

    Very, very helpful information! I especially appreciated the advice about how to use up the borax I still have. Thank you, Sara.

  7. Liana 14
    Liana Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

    Thanks so much for this! I used to check EWG for sunscreens, but didn’t know they had such a great user interface for cleaning products. I was dismayed to find that the “Bi-O-Kleen” products I use, which I had assumed from the name were good environmental products, all received F grades! I am now researching new laundry, dishwashing, and toilet cleaners.
    I see that Dr. Bronners can be used for laundry, but has anyone tried it in an HE machine?

  8. Stephanie 16
    Stephanie Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 at 10:19 am |

    If Borax isn’t safe for the wash, how could it possibly be safe for the environment? Do you really think it’s a good idea to use it to kill the moss on your driveway and then wash into your yard, your neighbors yard and eventually the Willamette river?

  9. Annie Kip 18
    Annie Kip Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

    Great post, Sara. I really feel lucky to benefit from your experience and research and experimenting. You are so thoughtful about everything you do. Thank you!
    Annie Kip recently posted..The Precarious Balance Of SelfMy Profile

  10. Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com 20
    Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

    I had no idea about Borax! Will definitely check out the Sal’s Suds now. We absolutely love Dr. Bronner’s products, so it does my heart good to know they got an A. Thanks for this info!
    Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com recently posted..How To Tuesday Link PartyMy Profile

  11. Jane 22
    Jane Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

    If you don’t want to bother with a timer to remind you when to put the vinegar in, you can use a downy ball. I think they still make them. Obviously you would be using vinegar instead of downy, but it is just a plastic ball, and when the spin cycle hits, the centrifical force created unplugs the top and allows the contents to be released in the rinse cycle. Also, the truth is most clothes don’t need any detergent to wash them, unless they are stained or soiled. Water alone will get most clothes clean. To extend the life of jeans especially, it is recommended that you use a water only wash and hang them to dry.

  12. Sue Kalt 23
    Sue Kalt Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

    I have used Borax for killing ants — works a lot better than the other potent sprays.

    Personally, we pollute rivers, oceans, ground water with a lot more potent chemicals than Borax. The little I use to clean the moss/mildew is a lot better than the chemical concoctions in fancy spray bottles.

    Think of all the cleaners used in residential, commercial and industrial sites. That alone will make you not want to touch anything. Then think of all those meds people toss out.

  13. Sue Kalt 24
    Sue Kalt Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

    I noticed that new appliances do not last as long as the old ones did/do. That alone should be a call to action. We are becoming more of the Waste Makers than Vance Packard originally wrote about in 1960.

    My refrigerator has been in my kitchen since the mid 1980s. The stove (which was purchased used) was manufactured in the 1950s. I just had to say good bye to my old black-and-white rabbit ears 13″ TV set in my kitchen. It was purchased in 1980. A lot of tech folks told me I could never get it to work with the converter box. I proved that to be incorrect — a lot of folks got rid of perfectly good TV sets with the switch from analog to digital TV signals. I doubt new TV sets will last 30 some odd years.

    I used to have an old 1963 car which I had to sell when I could no longer buy parts for it — after 25 years of use (and I bought it used).

    My stove has required parts for it, which are getting harder and harder to come by. I just replaced a stove-top element but finding it was so so hard. I was told many times that the stove is too old. Yet new ones are not as sturdy — the doors are too flimsy, or some doors have rubber gaskets, or they will not fit into the kitchen or the existing electrical infrastructure.

    Vance Packard wrote a long time ago about planned obsolescence — a way of making consumers buy new items because the items are created to wear out more quickly. This produces a large degree of waste, wasteful use of resources, and harmful chemical by products.

  14. BethB 25
    BethB Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 at 1:52 pm |

    I’m coming late to the party but by the date of this article I see you found the Borax information about the same time I did. So I’ve spent the past few months reviewing my cleaning supply list and looking for new ideas. Two questions:

    For laundry, would you use washing soda in addition to the Sal Suds or instead of? In light of my EWG discovery I’m looking for something to replace the Method detergent I’m currently using and Sal Suds is in the running.

    Secondly, what are you using for dish soap? We hand wash all our dishes and the Earth Friendly stuff I was using is only a “C”. I purchased a case of Planet Ultra from Amazon and I love it. Just wondered if you had another idea (that’s maybe not $4 a bottle!). Sal Suds?

    BTW, I’ve been using washing soda in my toilets (it used to be Borax). It’s my understanding that vinegar and baking soda cancel each other out when used together so they’re not good cleaning partners (but hey, I could be wrong!). I do use them in my drains every few weeks to dislodge clogs, however. Seems to keep the kitchen sink drains more fresh.

  15. BethB 27
    BethB Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

    Also, add me to the list of people angry about appliances not lasting as long as they used to. Often it’s due to said appliances having computer parts. My FIL was an appliance repairman and my husband worked with him for years and they frequently complain that computers have no business is household appliances. Like the programmable slow cooker I had that died after two years. Or the 7 y/o refrigerator we’ve now spent $400 repairing because the computer board has died twice in three years. Financially it might make sense to replace it rather than keep paying to repair it but I can’t bring myself to chuck it in a landfill when it works fine after a simple part replacement. So I guess we’ll keep shelling out every few years and grumbling about the “olden days”. ;-)

  16. Marie 29
    Marie Sunday, May 12th, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

    I know I am coming to this discussion late – but we use soapnuts to wash our laundry – we bought them from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been using them for a year and a half – still on the same $6 bag! They are all natural (seeds from a tree or a bush, I believe) and our clothes smell great and are clean – what more could you ask for?

  17. jo 31
    jo Friday, January 24th, 2014 at 4:53 pm |

    I just checked out that EWG website. That’s great info to have! I’m a little curious about the A rating for Sal Suds, though. If you scroll down, they give ratings for each ingredient. There are 4 Cs and a B. Not sure how that adds up to an A. There’s “some concern” for cancer, respiratory effects, organ effects and aquatic toxicity. So maybe it’s not THAT great. Perhaps they grade the products on a curve? Anyway, it’s apparently better than a lot of other stuff and we’ve gotta use something I guess. The ingredients in the liquid castile soap got all As and 1 B, but I understand it’s not as effective. I’m just starting to explore greener options and the products and recipes are numerous and a bit overwhelming.

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