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Eco-Friendly Cleaning Method For The Kids Stuff

 There’s just so much stuff. the stuff always seems to be sticky, stinky, or dirty. I’m not sure how, but applesauce ends up in doll’s hair and crayon ends up on lunchboxes and permanent marker ends up … well, everywhere. Sometimes the messes kids make will really put our natural cleaning skills to the test. I can’t cover every scenario you’ll come up against (I’ve heard some horror stories), but I’ll do my best. Here are some tips to keep the kids’ stuff (and the stuff they might make a mess of) clean. And maybe somewhat organized, at least for a little bit.

Kids’ rooms manage to accumulate toys and papers in places we didn’t even know existed, so the best way to fully purge is to take everything out of the room and sort. Again, use the box system for stay, trash, and give away. Then everything in the stay box must find a home where it will always live, and the things in the trash and give away boxes must actually leave the house. This may involve some tears from the children, but you can explain that the reward of a tidy and manageable room will be worth the pain of letting go. Giving them some say in what stays and what goes and where items will be kept may make it easier on them (though not necessarily on you) and will teach them organizational skills that will serve them well later in life. Once you’ve gone through every item, it’s time to do a deep clean.
Don’t put anything back in the room until you’ve fully cleaned. For kids’ rooms, I recommend using a steam cleaner to clean the carpets, since they always seem to be full of glitter, tiny beads, and crumbs—basically, they can always use a deep clean. There’s no need to use a chemical-laden commercial cleaning product, though; the steam alone will greatly restore and refresh carpets. You can add 10–15 drops of grapefruit seed extract per gallon of water if you feel comfortable using this ingredient . Then clean the baseboards, wipe down the walls, and clean fans and windows. Finally, move the major furniture back and begin organizing.
Toys get gross! There’s no getting around it, since they’re played with on the floor, kitchen table, put in mouths, handed around to friends, brought outside, etc. But since they’re mostly made of plastic or wood, the good news is they’re easy to clean with clean ingredients. Small plastic toys, including many bath toys and bath mats, can be sanitized in the dishwasher, too, or cleaned with a little castile soap in the sink or bathtub. This spray uses the natural cleaning properties of vinegar, which is all you need. Some recipes for toy cleaning use essential oils, but I prefer to leave those out as a precaution for toys being put in mouths, and also because essential oils eat away at plastic toys. You can also use hydrogen peroxide in place of the vinegar, but the hydrogen peroxide tends to eat at painted toys. This method will make toys look like they just came from the toy store.
•   ½ cup vinegar
•   ½ cup distilled or boiled and cooled water
•   8 small, thin rags made from T-shirts or similar material
Mix the vinegar and water in a 1-quart jar. Add the rags and shake to get them saturated. To use, simply pull out a rag, wring out any excess moisture, and wipe down toys. You can also mix together well in an 8-ounce spray bottle. Shake first, then spray any hard toys and wipe down with a cloth.
Stuffed animals are dust, mite, and mold spore collectors, despite their cute exteriors. They also harbor germs whenever your child gets ill. Washing them regularly is a good idea, and most stuffed animals, unless they are wool, can enjoy an adventurous trip through the washing machine and dryer. In order to get your kids to give up their favorite lovies and stuffies, tell them the animal is going on a waterfall adventure and that they will tell them all about it when they return.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Method For The Kids Stuff

Machine washable: Stuffed animals can be washed in the regular washing machine with your regular laundry. However, placing them inside a pillowcase and tying a knot, or placing them in a mesh lingerie bag, will help avoid any snagging or undue hardship in the machine. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle if you’d like to keep the stuffed animal soft. Use only cold or warm water and a gentle cycle. For the dryer, if it isn’t already, place your stuffed animal in a pillowcase. This softens the impact of the dryer, prevents overheating that could cause any glued-on decorations or seams from coming undone, and should the stuffing happen to come out, keeps the mess contained. Dry on cool or gentle until thoroughly dry.
Spot-clean only: Mix up a drop of castile soap and enough hot water to make a slightly soapy solution. Use a washcloth to spot clean the stuffed animal, scrubbing if necessary, but lightly. Lightly scrub with a clean toothbrush on extra tough spots. Air dry by hanging from a hanger with a skirt clip to attach to the animal’s ear or tail in a room with plenty of light and warmth (but not direct sunlight), so the animal doesn’t stay damp too long and begin to mildew.
Lunch boxes get grimy fast, especially if messes aren’t cleaned right away or they’re left to sit over the weekend, or heaven forbid, over a week’s break. Stinky doesn’t even begin to cover the stench that can be released when you unzip the dreaded lunch box that’s been sitting for too long! Diaper bags are the same story. Use the deep wash when you encounter that problem instead of being tempted to throw the whole shebang in the trash. Then, use these daily wipes to combat stink regularly.
Deep Wash:
•   ½ cup baking soda
•   ¼ cup vinegar
•   5 drops grapefruit seed extract, optional
•   Castile soap
Sprinkle the interior of the lunch box with plenty of baking soda. Pour in the vinegar and add the grapefruit seed extract, if using. Use a clean toothbrush to get the seams and any extra dirty areas clean. Close the bag and zip it or snap it closed if you can, and give it a really good shake and swish. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Give it one more good swish. Rinse well.
Next, give the exterior a bath in a small basin by filling it with warm water and adding a few drops of castile soap. Swish well and submerge if you can. If you can’t submerge, spot clean with the mixture. Use a clean toothbrush on the exterior to work on any spots. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry on a clean towel, open if possible, with a few paper towels or a clean towel inside.
•   ½ cup vinegar
•   ½ cup water
•   5 drops grapefruit seed extract, optional
•   5–8 cotton rags cut into 6”x8” rectangles
Mix the ingredients together in a quart-size glass jar. Add the rags and shake to make sure the rags get saturated. When ready to clean, simply take a rag out, wring it of any excess liquid (letting it drip back into the container for future use), and wipe your lunch box clean. The used wipes can be washed and added to the liquid again, adding more of the solution as necessary.
Wipes get used by the thousands when raising kids. And that means a whole lot of chemicals and waste going into our landfills and waterways. There simply has to be a greener way to clean messy faces, sticky hands, and dirty bottoms without using toxic antibacterial chemicals that do more harm than good. You can use paper towels for this if you prefer instead of cloth rags; simply be sure to get a brand that is strong and sturdy enough to handle the liquid. Experiment with the amount of liquid to the brand of paper towel, and see what works.
•   2 cups distilled or boiled and cooled water
•   ¼ cup pure aloe vera gel
•   1 teaspoon castile soap
•   Twenty 5”x5” square cloths OR use half-size paper towels, folded in half and stacked
Mix ingredients well in a gallon jar with a resealable lid, stir to mix but not agitate the soap too much. Add your cloths or paper towels. Close the lid and turn upside down once or twice to saturate towels. To use, simply grab a towel, wring out excess liquid, and wipe hands, face, and body as needed. The towels can be machine washed and used again and again.