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Happy cleaning: Green products make you feel good about cleaning

As friendly as we all want to be to the Earth these days, we’re still not too keen on having it for a house guest. Dirt is delightful in our gardens and all, but keep it off the hardwood floors, please. Luckily, there seem to be an ever-growing array of products that aim to keep our planet healthy and our homes squeaky clean.

I did my spring cleaning a little early this year to try out some great green cleaning products, from the brand new to the tried and true. Here are a few must-haves for your supply closet:

Method Cleaning Sprays

Available at Target and other grocery and drug stores

There are several things to like about the Method line of cleaning products. The company lists all the ingredients on their labels and offers additional information about each on its website; the founders are a couple of dudes who are not afraid to pose with pastel-colored hand soaps; and every product comes with some sassy humor, such as this word bubble on the Method natural glass and surface cleaner: “We think there’s a time and place for streaking, and it shouldn’t involve your glass.”

But my absolute favorite thing about the trio of cleaning sprays I tried was their scents. The glass and surface cleaner comes in a mint scent (and a lovely Caribbean blue color), an aroma that’s practically synonymous with clean and lent a certain effervescent mood to the task of cleaning bathroom mirrors. It also performed as well as any glass cleaner on the market.

I was equally charmed by the French lavender natural surface cleaner and impressed with the job it did on some long neglected tile and grout. It didn’t work miracles or anything, but it scared away a fair amount of grime. And the almond-scented wood cleaner was truly divine. It gave my wood floors a lustrous shine, performed well as a light dusting spray and left the house smelling like a fancy bakery. It also smelled vaguely of clean babies, which in my opinion only added to its appeal.

Twist scrub sponges
and sponge cloths

Available at Bona Fide Green Goodse_SFlb on Main Street in Concord

I’ll admit, it’s tough to get excited about a sponge (unless you’re 8 and the sponge is wearing square pants), but if you had to get excited about a sponge, this would be the one to tango with. First off, it’s made of plant-based materials instead of oil-derived plastics and toxic dyes. It also has a springier feel than the average sponge, and call me perverse but I liked how the white color highlighted all the dirt and grime I scrubbed away. It made me feel like it was worth giving up valuable loafing time to scrub the sinks. The sponge cloths, which are designed to be an Earth-friendly stand-in for paper towels, made quick work of countertops and other surfaces, and both products held up pretty well in the hot-water cycle, though they lost something of their appealing texture. The company has a whole line of sponge products, including a dish wand and a chubby little “ravioli sponge” for scrubbing pots and pans. It’s okay if you’re feeling a little excited now.

Bon Ami
powder cleanser

Available at Market Basket
and other grocery and drug stores

I’ve already been using this product for quite a while on everything from toilet bowls to stove tops and can’t find anything I like better for those tough jobs (sadly, it’s tougher to find than it used to be; I can no longer get it at Hannaford, and have had a hard time tracking it down at Target). Retailing for around $1.29, it’s cheaper than most products in its category and has just five ingredients: limestone, biodegradable cleaning agents from coconut and corn, soda ash and baking soda. It has no obnoxious odor and contains just enough of a scouring agent to contend with all manner of nastiness but promises not to scratch. Bon Ami was first manufactured in 1886 – in New Hampshire, in fact – and somehow survived the chemical-crazed decades to find itself back in vogue in our new enviro-conscious society. I especially love the nostalgic-looking label.

Seventh Generation stainless steel cleaner

Available at Hannaford and other stores

The newest member of the popular Seventh Generation family of Earth-friendly cleaning products, this product is not the sort of thing I’d ordinarily buy. I like an uncluttered cleaning closet lined with a small selection of products that pull double or triple duty. Stainless steel cleaner just seems too specialized, unless maybe you own a lot of stainless steel. I wondered what it could do for my oft-dingy stainless steel sink, though, so I decided to give it a try. Let’s just say it was hard to pull myself away from staring at my reflection long enough to write this review. Made with coconut oil and scented with mandarin orange, this rather plainly packaged product turned out to be a genie in a bottle, easily buffing my kitchen sink to a glamorous silver sheen.

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