Friday, August 28, 2009

Bona Floor Cleaning Products

I was fortunate enough to nab two bottles of Bona's floor cleaning products from Houston's eco-friendly home goods shop, New Living. When I bought my first house down here recently I was suddenly faced with a new substance to clean, one I'd never dealt with before- travertine. Travertine is in most of the houses I looked at down here in TX, at least somewhere on the property. It's common on newly remodeled shower walls, but also in dens/ adjacent to kitchens. It stays nice and cool in the scorching summer heat, so it has that advantage over wood at least. (Had we been able to choose I may have selected bamboo flooring instead.)

Anyway, I have read a lot about ways that different cleaning products can damage travertine, and we already have cracks in some of our tiles from foundational shifting. I wanted to be able to clean this stuff in my shower AND on my floor, and wanted to be able to use my existing microfiber mops.

I tried the spray cleaner first, and was impressed that it wasn't as much of a pain as I'd feared to spray while I walked around the room. I had been careful to vacuum the room first as per the directions, and the floors looked squeaky clean when I was done. (Then one of my dogs peed on them, as it was lightening out and she gets hysterical. Thanks, Mei.)

I was most interested in the floor polisher though- could it really make these tiles gleam? It claimed to provide a protective coating that will guard against damage in the future- that I definitely am in favor of.

The bottle said to keep traffic off the floors for 12 hours after use of the product for best results- and I knew that wasn't going to happen, as our stone floors are in the middle of the house and must be crossed to get anywhere. This stuff smelled a bit strong (I cannot think of what to compare it to), but it did seem to coat the tiles lightly. I'd say I was ... mildly pleased, as I'm not sure the results on my flooring are as dramatic as they might be on other kinds of stone, tile, or on laminate. (It's worth trying on your end, I think.)

I must admit, I am really intrigued by Bona's wood floor polishing products- I love the sight of a gleaming wood floor. I hadn't heard of this line before New Living tipped me off, but I haven't found anything else that even claims to be non-toxic to clean these floors with.

Oh, and my shower? That one was tougher. I gave it a good once-over with the cleaner, but I still cannot figure out how to deal with the mineral leaching (it looks like rust) coming off of the stones. It seems like a combination of their natural properties and my very hard water.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New (and not so new) things at the store

I love Casabella products. Everything they do is so well-designed. Their sponges are attractive, I prefer their microfiber cloths to anyone else's, and I've waxed poetic about their magnet mop in the past (it's the best mop ever, I'm convinced). Anyway, I saw something cool in my local BBB today- a stylish spray bottle with three different types of microfiber cloth in it. And printed on the side of the bottle were formulas for making your own basic cleaning products from simple ingredients. If you happen to need either a spritz bottle, or microfiber products, it's pretty sweet.

I also saw the Method hand soap refill jugs for the first time at BBB- HUGE! If you use their hand soap, this is a pretty good deal. I haven't seen refills this size at Target or Whole Foods. This size doesn't seem to be available anywhere online-apartment therapy only saw it in person at Costco.
It seems like it was much cheaper at CostCo, actually. To my surprise, I like the smell of the Sea Minerals and the Green Tea+Aloe self-foaming hand soap. As a bit of a tangent, the spring limited edition Mrs Meyer's smell- snap pea- smells awesome, really like fresh peas! I'll link to it on, since is no longer selling it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Trader Joe's (HE) Liquid Laundry Detergent

I should be grumpy at you, Trader Joe's. I just moved from Chicago, land of TJs, to Houston, and in the entire state of Texas there is not a single TJs. Not even in Austin. Nonetheless, I'll forgive TJs and lament the loss of their delicious lime habanero salsa.

First: A great, informative post on Earth friendly laundry detergents here.

Anyway, I was slightly concerned about buying TJs detergent because it only comes in a lavender EO scented variety, and my dog has experienced skin reactions to eco friendly scented detergents in the past, although I cannot see why he'd have a problem with lavender EO, per se. Especially in limited quanities. (I wash the dog beds and blankets as needed.)

Like the reviewer on grist, I've had fairly consistent results with all of the eco detergents I use, so your best bet is to go with one in your preferred scent (or scentless) and pay attention to cost effectiveness (which goes hand-in-hand with greater eco friendliness, in that if you're emptying bottles faster, you're creating more waste), and overall environmental impact of the formula.

So... the smell on this detergent is actually lovely. It's quite mild, and doesn't seem to linger through the drying process in my dryer. I have tested some grim stains on this stuff- red wine, salsa, bloody mary- and all came out easily. My clothes, towels, and bed sheet all feel soft when they come out of the dryer. If you have an HE washer, you won't need a ton of detergent, but even if you don't, this is a fairly concentrated product. The powder is even more so, as water is still an ingredient in the liquid version.

Alas, for me, I'll be going back to Seventh Generation Free & Clear, my old standby, as this isn't an option for me anymore.

p.s. A good run-through of the ingredients can be found on the greener one blog

Sunday, March 15, 2009

J.R. Watkins Window Cleaner

I thought all window and glass cleaner was created (fairly) equal(ly). Apparently I was wrong. Until we get rid of this mod glass dining table[1], I'll be using a lot of glass cleaner, so I decided to try the J.R. Watkins version. We've seen their products at Target before; my husband used to love their bay rum aftershave. It was only recently that I realized they sold cleaning products.

Always a sucker for scent, I nabbed the "Aloe and Green Tea", which just smells fresh and pleasant (and is lightly scented). I don't know if the aloe is what made this product so easy to wipe off, but it is! My glass got cleaner without nearly as much elbow grease. Huh....

It's sold online, ($4.69/bottle) but many Targets carry their full line.

1. Chicago area people, wanna buy it? It'd be nice to sell it before we move again. I have photos somewhere.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Earth Friendly Products Window Kleener

I have a mod-style glass topped dining table. I'm actually not a huge fan of it anymore, but adored it when we bought it back in... 2003? The thing shows fingerprints like MAD, so I need a good glass "kleener", and believe me, vinegar and water don't seem to cut it. Could be some error on my part, but vinegar+H2O left a bit of streakiness on my table, windows, and mirrors. So much for the cheap option.

I like EFP's line, and I like the smell of lavender so I nabbed this version from a cute little local health market that for whatever reason, only had this version in stock. It works great! When my mother-in-law was visiting she cleaned the table after meals for me a few times, and commented that this stuff worked well and smelled nice. I was pleased because she uses fairly traditional 'toxic/caustic' stuff, as does my own mother. I like that this stuff is just clear, and it comes in an unscented version for those who don't love lavender.

Give it a shot if you don't have success making your own!

p.s. I am noticing you can get a 12-pack on Amazon for $36.86 or about $3 a bottle. Weigh that against your local price to decide.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Method "Smarty Dish" Dishwasher Cubes

I actually am rushing to post about this stuff because I am so pleased with its performance. I may have found an eco dishwasher product I can stick with! I bought this stuff on a lark (in the 'go naked' unscented variety), because I like the idea of dishwasher tablets. I was never that psyched that Ecover individually wrapped theirs, however. That's not particularly eco-friendly, even if the dish tablets worked well for me.

The Method "Smarty Dish" version comes in a single recyclable canister, and they're shaped somewhat like a losange.

The important thing? They work. As well, if not better than the toxic crap at my local supermarket. They've gotten residual coffee stains out of cups, taken the weird mineral stains out of my bathroom cup, cleaned an old soap dish that I thought was permanently manky, and made my cocktail glasses sparkle.

I've never understood why dishwasher soap needed to be scented, so I haven't tried the pink grapefruit version... and I like most products as scented as can be.

Of course, whenever I review a dishwasher detergent people post and say that their experience vastly differed, as we all have different appliances and water quality. But I'd give these a whirl for sure... because if they work half as well for you as they did for me, you'll be hooked!

(I use it with Earth Friendly Product's rinse aid, but I'm not sure it really matters. I bought the rinse aid to try to improve some prior, lousy dishwasher products.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dishwashing Liquid- Who's Got the Best Label?

National Geographic's Green Guide had a good article on dish soap this month. They ranked them according to how completely the company discloses ingredients, so that the consumer might discern how many are plant-based, how many are harmful additives, etc. At the top of their "honesty" list was Seventh Generation's Dish Liquid, which got three "G's". At 2 (for using generic terms like 'preservative' or 'surfactant', although these were certified low- eco impact by an independent agency) were Clorox Green Works (Natural Dishwashing Liquid), Ecover (Dishwashing Liquid), and Planet (Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Gel).

Receiving 1 'G' for generic ingredient names and a lack of independent testing were Biokleen dish liquid, Earth Friendly Products (Dishmate), Method (Ultra Concentrated), and Mrs Meyers (Clean Day Dish Soap). D'oh!

The label vaguery doesn't necessarily mean that the companies in question have something to hide, but I'd encourage them to spell things out as much as possible. Trade secrets are important, sure, but so is knowing what we're buying.

Incidently, SG has coupons on its website, and you can stock up in bulk on