She likes to call it “light green.”
Realistic Green Cleaning
Credit: Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

I once spent a week with my neck in a brace after brushing my teeth too vigorously. I like things to be cuh-leeannn. During the mid-1990s, when in-line skating was the new thing, I got a pair of Rollerblades and the full complement of joint protectors. The skates I used for roughly 47 minutes one sunny April day in 1996, but I've worn the kneepads to scrub my bathroom's tiled floors for a satisfying two-plus decades.

Because if it's not a scene out of Dickens, I find it hard to believe I'm really getting something clean. By extension, I've often looked askance at natural cleaning. How could the same yellow orbs my daughter turns into the stickiest ant trap of a pitcher of lemonade get my countertops shiny and spotless? Intellectually, I get it. But emotionally: Get Mama her Fantastik!

Lately, though, I've been leaning into the idea of taking my cleaning to the "light green" place—because surely every little bit counts. I now buy surface cleaners in the concentrated vials and mix a bit with water in a reusable spray bottle that (following in the carbon footprints of those kneepads) sees a good long life ahead of it. Whenever possible, I buy the products with fewer, natural ingredients. And oh glory! The limitless applications of baking soda, which I purchase in those cereal-size boxes. I use it to scour the sinks, tubs, stovetop, and fridge shelves.

It has also made the leap into my personal-care routine. I dump handfuls of it into my shampoo as a scalp exfoliant and sprinkle it onto my Oral-B for brushing my teeth. Which, yes, of course, I still do with excessive gusto. But that's between me, my periodontist…and my chiropractor.