It is so tempting to try the many new green products out there, and I have, but I always find myself going back to the basics. Here are the original green cleaners: classics, basics, all time tested and trusted, made in the USA for over 100 years.
When walking down the cleaning product aisle (or more likely AISLES) of your local department or grocery store, take a look at the products. From bathroom cleaners, to kitchen disinfectants, to laundry detergents, it seems like every manufacturer of household products has come out with an eco-friendly line of green cleaners.
But when I open the cupboard under my kitchen sink, I probably see the same made in America cleaning supplies my great-grandmother used: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 20 Mule Team Borax, Heinz Vinegar, and Murphy Oil Soap. These made in the USA products have been around for 100 years and have truly stood the test of time.
Don't miss our ultimate source list of the oldest American made products!
Made in the USA Over 100 Years: The Original Green Cleaners
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
What's impressive about Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is the fact that it has been owned by the same US company, Church & Dwight Co., for 160 years! In 1846 John Dwight and his brother in law, Dr Austin Church, started making baking soda in their New England kitchens. Today, Church & Dwight Co. is the biggest manufacturer of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in America. Though Arm & Hammer Baking Soda was originally developed to be used in baking, it has many uses as a natural cleaning product:
- Put a bit of baking soda on a damp cloth and use it to remove coffee stains from coffee pot or cups, remove stuck on food or grease from Pyrex, glass or non-aluminum cooking dishes or pans, erase stains from counter tops, remove mineral deposits from sinks and tub and clean your tub/shower.
- Pour a cup full into the toilet and let it sit for an hour before brushing to remove stains and odors.
- Add about 1/4 cup to cloth diaper laundry, or any smelly loads, to get rid of odors.
- Sprinkle some baking soda onto carpet with odors. Let set overnight, then vacuum up. Odor should be removed. I have also done this with cement basement floors to remove cat odors.
20 Mule Team Borax
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral found in the Mojave Desert, California. The discovery, mining, and transporting of Borax was a big part of the American west in the late 1800s. The heat in Death Valley, and the weight of the Borax, made it quite a challenge to get large amounts out quickly. This led to the creation of sturdier wagons pulled by a 20 mule team that was able to get the product out safe and fast. The mule teams were used until railways were built. Today, the 20 Mule Team is the trademark of Borax. Around the house, 20 Mule Team Borax has many uses as a green cleaner:
- Borax is sold as a laundry booster. Adding a scoop to your load, along with your regular detergent, will help with odors and prevent stains.
- Sprinkle about 1/2 a cup onto the bottom of your dishwasher when running a load through the wash cycle to aid in cleaning- it removes spots and film on dishes.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup into the toilet bowl let sit for an hour, then brush away stains.
- Sprinkle onto bottom of tub and scrub to remove dirt, soap scum, and hard water stains. Also great at removing tile and grout stains.
- Borax works as an ant killer. (Ant killer how-to here…. also makes glow in the dark slime!)
The H.J. Heinz Company was founded in 1869 and produced sauces and pickles in America. This new company also manufactured the vinegars used in these products. It didn't take long for Heinz to think out of the box and begin bottling and selling the vinegar alone, making it the first company in the US to do so. White distilled vinegar is a natural disinfectant and is a great alternative to bleach. However, it has been reported that some white vinegars could be made with petroleum, thus eliminating the “Green” factor. Vinegar manufacturers do not have to let consumers know what is in their product. Because of this controversy, Heinz came out with an ‘All Natural Cleaning Vinegar' which is guaranteed to be made of only grain and water, and no petroleum. Heinz White Vinegar has many uses around the house as a safe, Eco- friendly cleaner:
- Fill a squirt bottle about 3/4 way with vinegar (I got my made in the USA squirt bottles at Walmart), add about 2TBS dish-soap, fill rest with water. I use this as my multi-purpose cleaner to wipe down counters and tables. I also use it to wipe down the tub before the kiddos take a bath- so much safer than chemical cleaners!
- When coffee starts tasting funky, clean the coffee pot by running a brew cycle with vinegar instead of water- and no coffee grounds. Follow with a few more brew cycles with just water to get rid of remaining vinegar before making an actual pot of coffee.
- Vinegar works as a natural fabric softener. Put vinegar in the washer's fabric softener dispenser or put it in a dispenser ball. Great for line dried laundry.
- Adding about a cup of vinegar to the cloth diaper laundry is a great way to remove residue from diaper cream and to eliminate odors. This is only recommended on diapers that are used with a separate diaper cover- not the ones with a built in cover!
Murphy Oil Soap
Murphy Oil Soap has been around since the early 1900s. It was originally manufactured by a Cleveland, Ohio company, Murphy- Phoenix Co., that made oils for machines, harnesses and valves. In 1991, Murphy Oil Soap was purchased by Colgate Company and is still made in Ohio. Murphy Oil Soap is made from plant based cleaning agents, contains no phosphates, and is biodegradable. Using on unfinished wood surfaces is not recommended- always test on a small area before using. Most people think of Murphy Oil Soap as a wood floor cleaner, however it has many uses:
- I live in a log house- log walls, wood ceilings, oddly- no wood floors. At least twice a year I wipe down the walls and ceilings with a dilution of Murphy Oil Soap and water to keep the wood clean and conditioned.
- The same dilution of Murphy Oil Soap and water works well in cleaning painted walls too– test first.
- Put some water/Murphy Oil Soap dilution in a spray bottle and use it to wipe down or “dust” your wood furniture. This is great for wood kitchen chairs, especially if you have young kids- food is always stuck to my chairs!
- Put a dab of Murphy Oil Soap on grease stains before throwing stained clothes into wash.
- Back to school tip I saw on Pinterest- Murphy Oil Soap gets eraser board marker off of clothes! Put a rag behind the stain so as not to transfer it to other parts of the clothing. With another rag, dab the mark with Murphy Oil Soap until the stain is off. I haven't tried this one yet! Someone let me know if it works!!