It’s Not Easy Being Green: 4 Times I Went Back to Chemicals

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy)

I like to reduce the chemicals in our household, not only because I don’t want them accessible to my young children, but also because I try to reduce our chemical exposure in general. That’s why I mix my own Alvin Corn glass cleaner (“alcohol, vinegar, cornstarch” — awesome stuff), and use baking soda to scrub my sinks. But there are some homemade or “green” cleaners that I’ve said goodbye to, either because they just didn’t perform as well as I wanted or because I was actually worried about their effect on my appliances.

I Don’t Make Homemade Laundry Detergent Anymore

I felt accomplished making this laundry soap and I liked it for a while. Eventually, however, I noticed that our clothes seemed stiff and our dark colors were getting a bit faded. I’m certainly not going to save money on laundry detergent and lose money on clothes that age more quickly. Now I use Nellie’s.

I Use Commercial Stainless Steel Cleaner

I’m an advocate of using a thin, sheer spray of oil for polishing stainless steel (after cleaning it with an all-purpose cleaner), and have been doing it happily for years. But at a recent kids’ birthday party, my friend’s gleaming stainless steel fridge caught my eye. I converted before she even showed me what she uses: Weiman’s Stainless Steel Cleaner. Its cleaning and polishing power is far superior than my method, it can all be done in one step, and the product repels fingerprints and dirt.

I Love This Store-Bought Stove Top Cleaner

I love my electric glass top stove. But there’s a top-notch level of gleam that’s I could never quite achieve with any natural cleaning method I tried. Using this Cerama Bryte kit, however, left me oohing and ahhing. Again, I don’t have to use it often, and, for me, its effectiveness offsets the occasional exposure to harsher chemicals.

I Stopped Using Vinegar in the Washing Machine and Dishwasher

The idea of using innocuous vinegar to disinfect and soften our laundry has always been appealing. And I would throw it in my dishwasher as well, to try to remove hard water fogging on our dishes.

But after reading many cautions that the acidity of vinegar could corrode the rubber gaskets on appliances, I got scared off. I don’t have a replacement product for the laundry, but if I want a load disinfected (like rags), I use the sanitary cycle’s extra hot water.

For the dishwasher, one experience with these little guys and the absolutely sparkling glassware they gave me was enough to make the switch.

What chemical cleaners do you refuse to give up?