By Elizabeth Parise
Even though Elimination Communication (EC) is less messy than full-time diapering and conventional toilet training, in any household with young children, there is still cleaning to be done. Cleaning doesn't have to be difficult or involve harmful chemicals - it can be kept simple and environmentally friendly. Below are some tips to help you stay clean and green.
Here are some basic supplies that can be used to make a variety of homemade cleaning products.
- baking soda
- lemon juice
- castile soap
- natural sponge from a "sponge farm"
- spray bottles
Cleaning potties right away can keep them from needing a lot of heavy cleaning. Eliminations can be poured immediately into the toilet or into the compost bin, then the potty can be rinsed right away with water.
For a more thorough cleaning, a solution of vinegar and water is a great natural disinfectant. If your potty needs scrubbing, try using baking soda and water, baking soda and vinegar, or baking soda and liquid castile soap to make a creamy scouring scrub. An old toothbrush can be reused as a mini scrub brush.
Cleaning Up Misses
Pee: If your baby pees on a hardwood floor or other solid surface, wipe it up with a cloth or paper towel. You can then wipe it clean with a warm cloth or use your favorite all purpose cleaner. If the miss is on a rug or carpet, first dab up as much as you can with an absorbent cloth or cloth diaper. Then dilute the area with water and dab dry again. If you have a rug made from natural fibers and dyes such as a high quality wool rug, do not use anything harsh or chemical. If water alone doesn't seem to do the trick, use a gentle dishsoap and blot gently. Then rinse again with water and dab dry. Don't use baking soda, but let the spot dry by dabbing with the cloth and air drying. If your rug or carpet is made from synthetic fibers it might be ok to use a steam cleaner or other carpet cleaning products. Some parents have had good luck using products such as Bac-out. It is always a good idea to consult your store or manufacturer when in doubt.
Poop: On solid floor surfaces, wipe clean and wash with warm water and soap or an all purpose cleaner. On rugs or carpets, remove any solids carefully and gently blot wetness, then dilute with water and blot again. You may need to repeat this a few times, then blot dry. As with for pee, consult your store or manufacturer when in doubt.
Vinegar is also useful in the laundry. Try putting a 1/4 cup of vinegar in the wash as a fabric softener. Better yet, add baking soda to the wash cycle and vinegar to the rinse cycle. Lemon juice in the rinse cycle brightens your laundry.
For more information on baking soda and vinegar in the laundry:
If cloth diapers are only being used as a back-up to EC they tend to get less soiled. Consider washing them in cold water to conserve energy. Also, letting clothes dry in the sun is an environmentally friendly way of keeping them fresh and stain-free. Sun exposure is an effective way to bleach out stains.
A solution of 1/4 cup of vinegar to one gallon of water is a great floor cleaner. Don't forget to rinse well, though. The vinegar smell will disappear over time. Or, try one of the air fresheners below.
Again, cleaning right away will help to avoid larger cleaning jobs in the future. If it is a urine spot, soak it up with a prefold diaper, cloth rag, or paper towels. Baking soda can also be used right on the spot. If you are cleaning a bowel movement, first remove it from the carpet, then dab, don't rub, the spot with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Stubborn stains can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide (test first to make sure it doesn't bleach out your carpet). Baking soda does a great job of removing odors. Sprinkle it on your carpet, let it sit for a while, and then vacuum. If your carpet or rug is made of natural fibers (like wool), you should use only warm water with a little bit of dish soap.
For more about green carpet cleaning:
Keep windows open as much as possible if your outside air is fresh. This is a simple, yet effective, way to keep your house smelling good. Don't overlook keeping potted plants in your home as well.
We used to keep a pot of boiling water on our woodstove with cinnamon sticks or cloves in it to keep the air humid and smelling nice, but you don't need a woodstove to use the same technique. Speaking of the stove, there is nothing that smells better than fresh baked goods. Try baking a pie or cookies to freshen up your home.
Burning soy candles is another way to freshen up the air in your home. Candles can be rubbed with essential oils for a fragrance boost.
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products:
For more information on green cleaning
Issue No. 7
Earth Day Special Edition
Letter from the Editor
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with EC
Personal Story: Beyond The Great Debate
Question From an Ecing Family
EC Product Review: gDiaper
Recycling a Prefold
Holding A Green Baby Shower
Helpful Tip: EC Baskets
DiaperFreeBaby and EC in the News
Membership Update: HCP Membership