Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Safe cleaners for kids

Cleaning with lemon and baking sodaEmma's taken a shine (literally!) to cleaning the sink in her bathroom. She's been spending a lot of time using the hand soap to clean in and around the sink and is very meticulous and excited about doing it.

It doesn't matter if she cleaned it the day before either. She's very proud and feels a sense of accomplishment in her efforts.

Over the weekend I thought I'd give her some real cleaning materials, but I didn't want to give her something that was at all toxic and even the Mrs. Meyers cleaning powder I use seemed a little too wrought with potential danger in a 5-year-old's hands.

So, I hooked Emma up with one of my favorite cleaning combinations: baking soda and lemon. I like to cut the end off a lemon (we had some leftover lemons from the holidays) and dip it in baking soda, squeezing it a little to get the foaming action going. It makes for a great smelling cleanser and does a decent job of getting things clean. The lemon itself acts as a scrubber.

She ended up making more of a mess than not, but after I wiped down the baking soda, the sink and the counter-tops were pretty darn clean. Now, if only I could get her started on the toilet.

What kind of cleaning tasks do/did your young children do? What kinds of cleaning products do they use?

28 comments:

Nina said...

I'm going to try this one! Thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Um, oh dear....My kids clean the bathroom,sink and all, on a daily basis, rotating jobs weekly. However, I have to admit my biggest weakness. I love the sanitation wipes available. They pull a wipe out and throw it away when they are done. No over spraying, nothing gets in their eyes, its simple and lovely. However it is VERY un eco. The wipes are thrown away AND the tubs arent even recyclable. So, while I've gone usuable for pratically everything else in my house, I probably negate it all with this one crutch. I really need to stop buying them.

Denise said...

When my children were small I started them in the habit of cleaning and tidying right from the beginning, especially their own rooms. Little ones really like dusting, folding laundry, setting the table etc. They always had to cover their own beds (though changing sheets etc waited till they were about 10), keep their rooms tidy, empty waste baskets, wash/dry/put away dishes etc. My son always liked putting the washing on the line, and bringing it in too. I don't remember anyone other than me cleaning the toilet, though!

mrsdirtyboots said...

The lemon brings a brilliant shine to stainless steel kitchen sinks too!

I'm now trying to be very good and scrub the toilet bowl with a pumice stone. It works really well but admit I sometimes miss the heady days of not giving a damn and squirting something toxic from a distance. On the plus side I do it more often now or else its too icky to consider!

Have I shared too much?

Oldnovice said...

My 3 started cleaning when they were about 2 years old. Everything was down low for them in Montessori fashion so they wouldn't need to ask adults for help. It didn't occur to me that anything could be toxic to them, I guess. They did dishes with Palmolive, dusted with probably just damp rags, and used a powdered cleanser for the bathroom fixtures.

Green Resolutions said...

My 2-year-old loves watching the lemon and baking soda react with each other, but I think he's still a little young to help! I'm just glad to have cleaners I can use while he's in the room. I used to try to clean just during his nap so he wouldn't breathe in the fumes.

Healing Green said...

My 2.5 year old loves helping me do the dishes in our two-part sink. I give him the unbreakables, and do the rest. We use natural dishsoaps for dishes, and otherwise in the house I only use three cleaners: Murphy's Oil (vegetable based oil soap) for the floors once a months, a spray bottle with Apple cider vinegar, water and essential oil the rest of the time and on pretty much everything else, and another spray bottle with baking soda and water.

Condo Blues said...

My favorite is the using a feather duster to dust the house. No cleaners or chemicals at all and it's quick too!

Anonymous said...

kids can help using damp microfibre cloth for most things. toilet is my job, that is the only place in the house where i still use antibacterial stuff.
psz

Maeve said...

Er, my kids do tidying chores, not cleaning. As they get older, things will change. Especially as I switch over to more eco-friendly products. No way are they going to be using the chemical stew in conventional cleaners.

For what it's worth, I had my husband pry the cap off one of those rhymes-with-miffer cleaning solution bottles without ruining the threads, so I could use the handy-dandy gadget with my own cleaning solution. And... I'm going to make some washable cleaning cloths to attach to it as well. Which reminds me I need to figure out how to do that, as the box of disposable cleaning pads is almost empty.

Green Bean said...

Sweet! I so need to get my boys on that one. My kids just turned 4 and 6. Mostly, they vacuum, make their beds, dust and occasionally I give them a rag and some vinegar in a spray bottle to clean walls, counters and what not. Gotta love child labor.

silverlan said...

@Maeve,

I read somewhere that someone was using microfiber cloths cut to the right size and they worked a charm on the $w1ffer. But do tell: how hard was it to pry the cap off?? And what do you use in lieu of their solution? I would love to use my own concoction rather than theirs...

Christine F. said...

My 5 year old dd is also starting to become very helpful with the cleaning chores. My main cleaner in the house is vinegar/water in a spray bottle. She cleans the bathroom sink and counter for me with a cloth rag (when I remember to ask her to)with the vinegar spray and sometimes some baking soda or a dash of castille soap too, depending on how dirty the sink is at the time. I usually dole out the cleaners and have her apply the elbow grease. I have only recently let her start doing the toilet bowl with the toilet brush and the above cleaners.

My 2 year dd and the 5 yr old fight over using the dry $wiFR on the floors. I can't stand using those throw away cloths and LOVE the idea someone posted about using the microfiber cloths instead. Thanks! I'm going to give that a try next time. I was considering using old birds eye weave cloth diapers which we used for burp cloths for wet $wiFRZ but haven't tried it out yet. Microfiber would probably work better for wet ones too.

5 year old also clears her own dishes from the table and puts them in the dishwasher. It was tricky to get her started on that since sometimes it requires scraping little bits into the compost bucket, but she does well with it.

I have to try and keep the vinegar spray away from 2yr old - she sometimes gets it in her chubby little hands and goes on a spraying spree soaking all surfaces in her sight. She is darn good about moping up her spils, etc with kitchen rags so hopefully I'll have another good little helper in a few years.

koolchicken said...

I like to use Dr. Bronners soaps. I try not to worry about the plastic cause nearly everything is accepted at the recycling station on my island (and I buy in bulk). They do a good job of cleaning (I use commercial cleaners for he toilets) and smll great. I don't even have to wear gloves, a big change from chemicals that use go give me rashes and interfere with my breathing!

Anonymous said...

@Rachel
I've seen various recipes for home made wipes online. Just do a google search and you'll come up with pages of recipes. I've never tried any of them so I have no idea how well they work / stand up but its an option to be a little more eco-friendly (recycled paper towels, more friendly soaps) with out having to sacrifice your love for them.

If others have made them I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

my 4 1/2 yr old doesn't like to pick up her toys, but she does love to spray and wipe the sliding glass door with the shaklee cleaner we have. she wants to clean the toilets too, but i think i'll wait until she's a little older for that. hopefully she'll still be interested in it then. ;)

Amber said...

Thanks for the lemon and baking soda tip. I think I will use it myself.

I'm sure that my 4-year-old would love it too. She loves 'cleaning', and this would be something that I wouldn't worry about her using.

Alison Kerr said...

My kids don't much care for the smell of vinegar, which is what I most often use myself. They like Citrus Sage Glass and Window Cleaner from dienviro.com. It says on the bottle that it was developed at the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology. After-tax profits go to fund a ranch for kids with cancer. I bought it at a local supermarket and we like it a lot.

Artistmama said...

Great idea! My 4yr old son likes to wash windows with me. I give him a spray bottle with maybe a half a cup of white vinegar and the rest water. Then we use car washing cloths to shine them up. I use vinegar and water and baking soda to clean everything in the house.

I also use the car washing cloths for my swiffer, instead of buying the disposable cloths, to clean my floors. They can be used dry or wet and my son likes to use the vinegar spray on the hard to clean spots. While I do the mopping. He loves to be a helper.

JessTrev said...

My kids 'help' clean all the time. We use vinegar/water/soap mixture in a spray bottle so they can clean counters whenever they want. They also like to dust w/microfiber cloths and to sweep wi/the dustpan and little whisk broom. They like to water plants, fold clothes, and make beds. When I say they, the almost 6yo does much more -- the 2 yo is very interested in water at the moment so he's helping somewhat with dishes. Love the lemon trick!

Maeve said...

@silverlan
I used a flathead screwdriver and tried to pry up all the little toothy things clamping the cap to the bottle, and couldn't get them loose enough. So I gave it to my husband and he used a large pliers or wrench of some sort (not sure which, he took it out to the garage.. heh).

Right now I'm using some PineSol diluted with tap water. I'm considering white vinegar, water, and essential oils (lavendar, orange, tea tree maybe).

Just run plain water through it first though, to get their solution out of the tubing.

Microfiber cloths is an EXCELLENT idea! Those ought to even stick to the velcro strips on the underside of the thing.

Robj98168 said...

That poor little Emma- first you make her go outside in the snow- now forced labor!- Calling authoritys as we speak....

Sweetpeas said...

My kids (twins, almost 6)
- clean the bathroom sink & tub(microfiber towel & spray bottle of vinegar/water (50/50 dilution).
- mop the bathroom (microfiber "mop" (actually a thing designed to scrub the tub w/o bending over, but the handle's the perfect size for them to mop w/) again, w/ the spray bottle of vinegar/water
-they LOVE to wash windows (we have 18" windowsills, I think the attraction is getting to stand in the windowsill to do it LOL), again microfiber cloth & vinegar/water
-dust w/ a feather duster (I should get them microfiber ones, they'd work better)
-generally they unload the dishwasher (which doesn't require cleaners) but Ashlyn likes to start it, we use ecover dishwasher tablets so I don't worry about her putting that in the dispenser & turning it on.
-if I ever get my act together & get powdered laundry soap made again, Ashlyn will be able to add the soap to the washer w/o help (now I'm using a liquid so I pour it into the lid & she pours it into the washer) & I just bought a small bottle of vinegar (that I'll re-fill from my gallon bottles from now on) so she can pour the vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser herself. She also helps sort the laundry, puts them in the washer, and for the few loads I use the dryer for (mainly towels & sheets in the winter) she x-fers from washer to dryer, the rest she gets out of the washer into the laundry basket for me to carry upstairs & hang in the bathroom (or on nice days, carry around the house & she helps me hang them on the clothesline). So basically, if it weren't that the laundry basket is too heavy for her, once I get powdered soap made again, she could do laundry on her own :)

Anonymous said...

As the lemon is acidic, and the baking soda is basic, wouldn't they just cancel themselves out, chemically? That being said bakign soda is a good abrasive, so I guess that could do some cleaning action, but wouldn't it be better to use a rag?

-sarah

Joy said...

Well, we use Melaleuca products which contain NO caustic chemicals and my kids use them all: bathroom cleaner, all purpose cleaner, window, dusting, heavy-duty cleaner - I love that I don't have to worry about my kids and cleaners! Since we are a bleach free home, I sleep easy knowing our home is safe from caustic chemicals - totally! YEAH!:)

I have some cost comparrisons I've done on my blog too, under "Green Moma."

MFB247.com said...

After many years in the medical field and many friends who have worked in the cleaning field I've seen firsthand the ill effects toxic cleaners have on our bodies. Watkins has some amazing ORGANIC cleaners that work better than any of the old cleaners we used to use and they smell good too. The company is 140+ years old and very environmentally alert trying to leave as small a thumb print as possible.

I don't worry about my sons helping me clean nor exposure to any toxic chemicals as residual to "cleaning" and that gives me peace of mind.

If anyone would like to try the Watkins cleaners drop me an e-mail. Let me know you are from this blog and I will get it for you at wholesale pricing.

Michelle

Anonymous said...

Kids helping to clean homes is great! Now they can help their schools clean in a more environmentally friendly way. The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice is hold a Valentine's National Day of Action February 13, 2009 to raise awareness of the importance of green cleaning in schools. CHEJ works with Green Flags School Program to implement green cleaning policies and provides opportunity for schools to work together to make their school greener. Visit our site to learn more!

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/852/t/2096/signUp.jsp?key=3960

Jenette said...

My daughter (age 5) just started cleaning the outside of the toilet with vinegar and a old cut up t-shirt. She chose that over folding the cloth wipes!

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