On The Page: Green Housekeeping

I hate a dirty house.

I also hate cleaning. There’s so many other things I’d rather be doing than washing windows, scrubbing sinks, and mopping floors. (My skin also hates traditional cleaning products: if I use standard cleaning chemicals my skin starts peeling, it’s gross and painful.)

Walking through the Ridgway Library, I picked up a copy of Ellen Sandbeck’s Organic Housekeeping (released in paperback as Green Housekeeping). While reading about keeping my house clean isn’t my usual deal, the nesting instinct is kicking in a little bit now that we’re “settled” in one spot.

Sandbeck’s tips for cleaning your house start where all books about cleaning should start: organization. Forrest and I did a whole lot of paring down our stuff before we left Idaho so we have a good jump on not having too much stuff laying around. We’re working on eliminating the “horizontal file system” from our house (unfortunately we got rid of our file cabinet!)

Most excitingly for me, she covers how to clean your house without chemicals. Her cleaning tips rely pretty much exclusively on white vinegar, Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap, Murphy’s oil soap, and hydrogen peroxide. I’m still working to use up my bottle of Seventh Generation disinfecting multi-surface cleaner (which doesn’t appear to irritate my skin) but then I’ll switch over to trying Sandbeck’s cleaning methods. The chapter on clothes washing was also really interesting: she discusses natural detergents, best wash cycles, line drying, natural stain removal, and snow washing.

I’m also interested to try to eliminate paper towels as one of my cleaning tools. A transition to rags may have to wait until we have a working washing machine at home but I’m intrigued!

In short, rather than feeling like I’m a miserable excuse for a housekeeper, this book left me really motivated to try new things. I’m looking forward to slowly incorporating her ideas into my routines. (Actually, I’m not just looking forward to it, I’m embarrassingly excited.) If you’re interested in cleaning more efficiently or cleaning more greenly (or both), this book is worth reading. It’s definitely one I’m going to be keeping around for reference.

3 Replies to “On The Page: Green Housekeeping”

  1. Awesome! Totally gonna check that book out. We’ve been making our own cleaning products for a while now, and the difference is striking. Dr. B’s is a mainstay at our house for dozens of uses. Making our own laundry detergent was the biggest challenge, and we still haven’t worked out all the kinks, but it’s still much easier on our skin and allergies than the boxes of stinky chemicals from the store. And using rags instead of paper towels (and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins) has probably saved a few forests. For perspective, in our household of 5, we use about half a washer load of cleaning towels and napkins in a week. It’s really not that bad, and they last forever.

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