For two weeks and three days, I have been testing out some green household cleaning products by City Maid Green. Their tagline is: Powered by plants. Cute, catchy, environmentally alluring.
Or, is it a bunch of fluff to capture the awareness of a particular demographic? When you’ve only used Comet, bleach, Lysol, Windex, Fantastic, Mr. Clean, etc., this is actually a real concern. You know, like I have.
For the first three days after I purchased City Maid Green’s Eucalyptus Mint Multi-Purpose Cleaner and their Lavender Multi-Purpose Cleaner, I left both untouched and unused. I was absolutely petrified that these ‘plants’ would not remove germs and leave my house in a less than ideal condition. I mean, come on! All that’s in these cleaners are:
- Saponified Olive and Coconut Oil
- Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Essential Oils
Okay. But, what the heck is saponification anyway? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary states that to saponify means, “to convert (something, such as fat) into soap; specifically to hydrolyze (a fat) with alkali to form a soap or glycerol.” Okay, good. Next question, what is the compound used to start the saponification process? In bar soaps, NaOH, or lye. In liquid soaps/cleaners, it is potassium hydroxide (KOH). What?! This sounds un-natural to use lye, or potassium hydroxide in a natural product. However, what my brain did not initially compute is that this is a chemical reaction. There is but so much that can be done to avoid getting to certain compounds, such as soap and cleaners, without using actual science. I checked around to see what else can be used and I kept seeing KOH and NaOH no matter where I looked even on the From Nature With Love website. FNWL (a wholesale brand) offers a full range of organic, natural and essential personal care items. FNWL also prides itself on its green initiatives including “harnessing 100% clean energy to power its 30,000 square foot corporate headquarters.”
Alright. KOH won’t kill me! 🙂 [And, when we use bar soap, in the saponification process it is calculated to burn off the lye so it will not end up in the final product — the bar of soap you use on your skin. That’s a relief! (If you click the NaOH link above, you can read up on the actual process by reading the saponification lab experiment.)]
Now, back to City Maid Green. Once my mind was at ease that I wouldn’t kill myself, or my family, via this previously un-heard of saponification process, I tried it out in the bathroom face basin.
It smelled clean, fresh and did a pretty darn good job of cleaning the soap scum off. In fact, the sheeting action we all know all love to let us know surfaces are clean. Here is the best explanation I found to describe why we love “sheeting action” taken from Chemical & Engineering News (Dec 3, 2001, Vol 79, Number 49)
The surfactant breaks the surface tension of water droplets, flattening them and allowing the water to run down in the form of a sheet. The phenomenon is called sheeting action. Those droplets contain soap scum; oils and debris from the body; and salts of calcium, magnesium, or iron. If allowed to dry on their own, the droplets will leave residues that would build up over time. The chelating agent sequesters the ions of these salts, rendering them soluble. The alcohol helps to dissolve all the ingredients in water and to remove oily human debris.
While we are not discussing shower cleaning products (read: traditional chemical cleaning products), the sheeting action description remains the same and is what we, as consumers and home cleaners, still want to see to know that our surfaces are clean!
I can tell you that City Maid Green’s 2 products that I used do work and provide sheeting action in the face basin and in the bathtub (yes, the one that gets the biggest ring!). Sure, you do have to put in a bit of extra elbow grease but for a home that is clean, that does not have chemical (read: noxious) fumes emanating from the place cleaned for several hours after use — it’s worth it!
Before, when I used traditional cleaners, my children could smell that I was cleaning before they opened the front door; they could smell the bleach from outside our home.
Now, they smell eucalyptus, mint, lavender and tea tree oil! Much nicer, and much easier on the lungs and body. (You can see we love it because both bottles are almost finished!)
Two weeks later, I am comfortable enough to try other green products such as Mrs. Meyers, or J.R. Watkins Aloe and Green Tea Window Cleaner. Real Simple
magazine has a great piece about 8 green cleaning products that I am planning on taking a look at very soon. Here’s the link: https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/green-cleaning-products.