DIY: Green Cleaning a Classroom

Never before I was a parent did I think the words, “Don’t lick that!” would come out of my mouth quite so regularly. Kids don’t merely touch things – they like to have whole body experiences with them.

Fast forward to the first time I saw my preschooler helping clean his classroom with the “pink stuff” in the spray bottle. “What’s in that?” I asked. No one knew. Mind you, this was the same kid whom I found sucking on a nozzle of Formula 409 (before my green conversion). The guy at Poison Control didn’t know what was in that either. Surprisingly, ingredients don’t have to be listed on cleaning product labels. Nowadays with some searching, you can find Formula 409 ingredients on the Clorox website, but even more revealing is the analysis of it on the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Cleaning Guide.

Even without on-label ingredients, the Hazard Statements on the back tell us plenty. Formula 409, for example, recommends that if it gets on skin or clothes, wash for 15-20 minutes and call Poison Control. What’s in it that makes that necessary? It’s the manufacturers themselves who are raising the red flags over their own products. And though I’ve picked on 409, the hazards of most conventional cleaners are just as high. Plug the product in to the EWG Guide to do your own homework.

When it comes to cleaning schools, then, give me products whose ingredients are effective yet don’t carry threats to human health. It’s human health we’re trying to protect here after all.

With non-toxic cleaners, kids can get involved in the cleaning too. And it is good for them to be part of caring for their classroom. It gives them a sense of pride, a sense of ownership. Wouldn’t it be great to hear them say, “Hey! I just cleaned up this mess!” At least one can hope.

Check out this quick tutorial of a few ways to clean a classroom – or anywhere else for that matter – “greenly”.

Recipes mentioned in the video:

All Purpose Cleaning Spray

Combine in a spray bottle:

  • 1 tbsp. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds OR 1/4 c. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

  • 1 quart of water

  • 20 drops Tea Tree Essential oil (optional)

Glass Cleaner

  • Combine in a spray bottle:

  • Half distilled white vinegar

  • Half water

GIY Wipes

  • 1 1/2 c. filtered, distilled, or boiled then cooled water

  • 1 tbsp. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap or 1/2 tbsp. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds

  • 1/4 tsp. (20 drops) tea tree essential oil

  • Roll of Paper Towels (for disposable wipes)

  • Squares of old T-Shirts or Microfiber Cloths (for reusable wipes)

  • Put the paper towels or cloths in a container. Mix up the solution ingredients and pour it over the wipes. Let the wipes sit for 20 minutes to soak up the liquid.


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