Although my wife Jennifer and I have been trying to get “greener” around the kitchen over the past few years (using the smaller, energy efficient drawer-style dishwasher more; recycling more; using CFLs instead of conventional light bulbs, etc), we weren’t 100% ready to commit to green cleaning products. For my recent canvas article, we put a variety of cleaning products to the test to see whether ammonia and bleach-free cleaning products would get the job done. For them to pass the “Jen test” they would have to be pretty tough.
I found a bunch of products I liked, but two that really stood out:
- Simple Green: They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In 1978, long before “green” products were on anyone’s radar, a man named FaBrizio was trying to figure out how to remove tannin from coffee roasting machines without using toxic chemicals. After three years, he came up with a biodegradable, nontoxic, non-abrasive solution he called Simple Green. He began to sell the product in 55-gallon drums to automobile shops and factories, and many years later, into consumer stores. Now the “Sunshine Makers” company has one of the most popular and diversified natural cleaning product lines in the world. I found the concentrated formula to be the most effective—and cost effective—of all the “green” cleaning products.
- Seventh Generation: Seventh Generation products include everything from chlorine-free baby diapers to recycled napkins, and everything in between. I wanted to see how the Ben and Jerry’s of household cleaning products handled the mess I created making Cincinnati chili. As the author of several popular cooking books, including one on chili, I feel obligated to cook in a manner that makes me look as talented as the pictures that accompany my recipes. In other words, to needlessly shake pans, toss ingredients up into the air, and make as much noise and mess as possible. Jen tells me that this doesn’t add anything to my cooking but, since I usually clean it up anyway, she abides my foolishness. But, would Seventh Generation’s “natural all-purpose cleaner” be up to the task of degreasing a very greasy Garland stove? I put 7G’s citrusy cleaner to the test against both Fantastic and my home-diluted mixture of Mr. Clean, and found that it held its own.
A month later, we are still working our way around the kitchen, and for the most part we have found that the green cleaners can do the job 9 times out of 10. With a third grade boy in the house, plenty of bleach-based products are still called upon for regular bathroom maintenance, however. That being said, with green surface cleaners, dishwashing detergent and soap, and even biodegradable laundry detergent, there are a lot of ways to avoid putting chemicals back into the ground. And that’s some “clean living” that’s really easy to do!
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