Sunday, March 6, 2011

The REAL All-Purpose Cleaner

Ok, it's been a while. I don't have a good excuse.

Today I feel the need to tell you about my new favorite find. It's called SAL SUDS and it's made by Dr. Bronner's - the wonderful people who make my favorite gentle, biodegradable, vegetable based soaps. More about them later.

Sal Suds is a vegetable based hard surface cleaner with a high pH so it will clean just about anything. I've been using a pleasant-smelling "environmentally friendly" household cleaner for a few years for the counters and the floor but that's where it stops. I'm still searching for cleaners for the bathroom, laundry, dishes, what-have-you and biodegradable products are expensive - if you can even find them!

I was running low on dishwasher detergent and started looking up recipes to make some. We have hard water which creates a problem for dishes and laundry all on it's own. In searching for laundry and dish soap I kept seeing recipes that called for castile soap. While I love the versatility of castile soap for washing, it seemed to leave a film or residue when used on the counters so I wouldn't dream of putting it in a washing machine or dish washer!

Then I find Sal Suds. Made with a similar process and equally biodegradable, it breaks down hard water and leaves no residue. It claims to clean virtually any hard surface as well as dishes and laundry so I was intrigued. I found a 32 oz bottle at my local health food store and decided to give it a whirl.

One thing I like about Dr. Bronner's is that they disclose all the ingredients and their uses. It does contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which I try to avoid, but it is quickly biodegradable and doesn't come into direct contact with skin so I'm okay with it. It also contains other vegetable derived surfactants along with fir needle oil and spruce oil which sounds like pine-sol but it really has very little scent to it whatsoever. It contains no preservatives or dyes, is made in the U.S.A. and is not tested on animals.

First attempt was in the dishwasher. It recommended 1.5 tsp for a sink of dishes. I dolloped in a little over a tsp into the dishwasher and filled the rest of the detergent compartment with distilled white vinegar. We'd been using vinegar as a rinse aid for a while now and it works as well as the commercial stuff. I have to admit I was a little worried that when I turned the washer on my kitchen would be a sea of bubbles but that wasn't the case. In fact, the dishes looked great! I was sold on this point alone since nothing so far has gotten rid of the hard water marks on our glasses.

Second attempt was the washing machine. It recommended a 1/4 cup per load but I used about half that. Again, I turned on the machine expecting a bubbly explosion. The clothes came out as clean as they do with regular detergent. I even rubbed a little directly on some waterproof makeup smudges on my pillowcase before washing and they came out with no problem! The only thing it did not clean completely were some old stains on a cleaning rag - but that didn't bother me. I was really impressed because I wash as much as I can in cold water and the soap still worked.

Eucalyptus 100% Pure essential Oil -30mlNext attempt was the shower. I filled a bottle with half water, half white vinegar, some eucalyptus oil, and a small squirt of Sal Suds. That concoction made my tile sparkle!! The eucalyptus oil works as a disinfectant and helps cover the vinegar smell, which disappears when the vinegar dries anyway.

Then I filled a bucket with water and added a small squirt of Sal Suds to mop my floor. The key term is a small squirt because many reviewers online explained that it creates a LOT of bubbles and too much soap may require an extra rinsing and lets face it - we want to clean the floors as quickly and effortlessly as possible. It actually worked! By this point I'm not sure why I was surprised but I was. It cleaned well and dried with a good "clean floor" finish... not too shiny but not dull.

Now, I usually just clean my windows with a vinegar/water solution but what the heck; after the tile in the bathrooms I went out on a whim and sprayed some on the mirrors. After wiping with a microfiber cloth they were clean and streak free! I cleaned all my windows with the solution and it really got the pollen off my sliding glass door on the porch. 

I'm am convinced Sal Suds really will clean anything. It is not recommended for hand or body washing so I'll stick to regular castile soap for that. If anyone finds more uses for Sal Suds I'd love to hear them!

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