Great Customer Service from Seventh Generation

Message sent to Seventh Generation question box, via their website:

The dishwasher packs have been reformulated, and now come in a resealable bag.

Hello, this isn’t a question, but unfortunately a complaint.

I have been thrilled with so many of the Seventh Generation products, from diapers to laundry soap, so I was disappointed to find that the Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Packs were terrible. (SKU# 732913227907 and box code of AF 09050 xxxxxxx 1)

I bought these at Walgreens in the spring, hoping for something to throw in alongside the SG automatic dish detergent when I had an especially dirty load. However, the granules in the packs only seemed to get baked onto all of my dishes! I still have most of the box of packets, which I tried to take back to Walgreens, but it seems that I bought it just before they discontinued and deleted it from their system and they can’t refund it now.

So I wanted you to know that this product does not do as promised on the front of the box: “Gets Dishes Sparkling Clean”.
Thank you for your time,
Bronwyn Deiter
cleangreenstart.wordpress.com

 

Reply from Seventh Generation:

Hi Bronwyn,

I was sorry to hear of the less than stellar experience you had with our dishwasher pacs. I am sorry for the inconvenience & extra washing they caused you.

When you mentioned a box of dishwasher pacs, I said to myself “oh no, those are old.” The lot code you provided indicates the box was manufactured in 2009. The dishwasher pacs have been reformulated since 2009 & now come in a plastic see-through, resealable pouch.

I would be happy to compensate you for the dishwasher pacs. Do you prefer a voucher for a free dishwashing product or a refund? In either case, I will need your mailing address. In the case of a refund, I will also need to know how much you paid.

And now for the reason why you were using the dishwasher pacs … if you have an especially dirty load, I recommend you add a bit more detergent than usual. I suppose that is what you were actually doing when you added the dishwasher pacs but because they were old, they didn’t work well at all. The American Cleaning Institute (a website that is a treasure trove of info … http://www.cleaninginstitute.org) recommends you use dishwasher powders/pacs within 2 months of purchase, otherwise they can cause small particles (food or detergent) to be left behind. If you do a search on their website using the word “dishwasher,” you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about dishwasher problems & their causes.

Thank you for purchasing our products and giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. I will look for your reply about the voucher or refund.

Deb Lane
Customer Service
www.seventhgeneration.com

 

My Reply:

Hi Deb,

Thanks so much for your thorough reply, and offer of compensation. A voucher is best for me, as that will save me from digging out my receipt. I have been quite happy with the liquid automatic dishwashing soap, and would love to just replace it with that.

Thank you again,
Bronwyn Deiter

Ready, Set, Organize!

It’s hard to have a clean house if it isn’t (at least somewhat) organized. Being organized really comes down to habits; daily, weekly, seasonally. Here’s my basics:

Daily:

  • sort mail as soon as it comes into the house: recycle all junk, envelopes immediately, sort keepers into To Do, To Call, To File.
  • A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Try to do a once over at the end of the day to get things back in place.

Weekly:

  • organize time with a schedule, and To Do/To Buy lists.
  • choose a drawer or closet to sort and organize once a week while watching a movie or talking on the phone
  • sort out kids crafts/papers

Seasonally:

  • sort adult and kids clothes, toys, shoes; donate, consign, or give items away to friends who will use them

Saturday morning, I plan to catch up on some home organization:

  • clean up our school cabinet (which is the dining room hutch pictured above. A Mess.)
  • file some paperwork
  • pack up my maternity clothes
  • look through the kids toys to check for broken and unused toys; the two oldest children will be away for the morning working on their AWANA cars, so it’s a good time to clean out without resistance.

Plan: don’t get distracted by details (don’t sit down to look through art work or photos, just file and move on), take donations that day/give aways within the week (keep in the garage so they down migrate back into circulation).

Crayon on The Upholstery

So what kind of crazy woman would have a white sofa with 4 young children in the home?

Um, that would be me.

My Living Room

It was after reading 5 things to consider before you choose white slipcovers at The Inspired Room that I decided to go with white. Actually, I love my white couches, because the white slipcovers can be stripped off and washed as need be.

Unfortunately, this week that need was because the 2 year old took black crayon to the loveseat. Sorry for the bad lighting, but you can see the marks in the photo.

The Crayola website has some suggestions for removing crayon: WD40 is what they recommended for getting crayon out of fabric. Hmm…don’t love bring that into my house, but the basic idea is that it’s an oil to disolve the crayon. So I used Citra-Solv all purpose spray.

Sprayed it on, scrubbed with a dry terry rag, repeat, washed in the machine with hot water, laundry soap and oxygen bleach. Clean again!

Cleaning Toilets: Two New Products I like

With 2 little boys in my home, toilet cleaning is something I’m really interested in these days! 🙂

Tip: Vinegar neutralizes urine. Try it on toilets, carpet (don’t ask) with a water rinse.

The toilet was pretty dirty, so I started with my vinegar/water spray on the toilet, and wiped it down with a paper towel.

Next I sprayed with a new product from Seventh Generation: Bathroom Cleaner and wiped with a rag.

I found a great sale on Seventh Generation products (half off at Fred Meyer’s Founders Day Sale, plus used a coupon) so I picked up their bathroom cleaner to try out. It must be made with Thyme oil, as the strong smell suggests (thymol is a strong anti-bacterial oil, rivaling any chemical, yet is non-toxic). The spray comes out like a foam, which works well for wiping all over the outside of the toilet, around the seat, the floor, etc. It seemed to clean well, and I liked there being a nice scent at the end.

Last, I dumped about 1/4 cup of Washing Soda by Arm and Hammer (found it alongside the “regular” laundry detergents at the grocery store) into the bowl, and scrubbed with a rag. It seems to scrub just as well as baking soda, and the fresh scent is really great. Great deodorizer. It is all natural, but not edible, and should not be used in place of baking soda.

And now that the toilet is really clean again, we can consider painting a bullseye inside it!

Dish Detergent: Eat It and Breathe It

OK, so I don’t really think you should eat or breathe your dish detergent, but you could be doing so already.

Dishwasher Detergent

It is common for some residue to be left on dishes coming from the dishwasher, and while the dishwasher is running, a great deal of steam is being put out into your home environment. If there are toxic ingredients in your detergent, guess what you’re ingesting and inhaling?

I switched from “standard” Costco brand dishwasher detergent to a natural one a few years ago when I read that cancer patients should have their dishes run through the cycle without detergent to avoid the tax on the immune system. Well, I didn’t think taxing the immune system was a good idea for the rest of us either. So I tried a dish powder from BioKleen. It worked OK. I switched to the Trader Joe’s brand for a better price, and I think that it may be the exact same product (TJ’s uses other manufacturers in some of their private label goods).

After months of using these cleaners, I noted a few things:

  • Pro: there was no bleach odor coming from the dishwasher while it ran.
  • Con: the glasses began to have a white residue build up on the outsides (bottoms), and sometimes had small granules of white powder on the inside.

I could scrub that white film off by hand (totally planning to do this when the kids leave for college . . .) but the granules inside? We might be eating that if I don’t wipe each time. So recently I switched to liquid dishwasher soap.

A friend who had just switched to the BioKleen liquid dishwasher soap warned me that it wasn’t getting her dishes clean, so I bought the Seventh Generation product which smells like grapefruit.

I think it is working well, although I noticed that I have to rinse and brush my silverware clean of stuck-on food, as there are no granules to act as an abrasive for scrubbing them off.

It also looks to me like this detergent may be slowly removing some of the white film from my glasses, but I may just be imagining it.

When you look for a detergent, make sure it is free of chlorine bleach, phosphates, and EDTA. All are toxic, both to your home environment/family and to everything living downstream from you.

Dish Liquid (for washing by hand)

Here’s some good news: of all the soaps and cleansers in our homes, the liquid dish detergent we use for washing up by hand is likely the least toxic if it does not have Triclosan in it (the FDA just recently stated that, based upon animal studies, there is valid concern that Triclosan can have an impact on the endocrine (hormonal) system). Otherwise, this can happily wait for replacement until you’ve run out of your current soap.

I have been quite happy with the BioKleen Dish Liquid. Lovely fragrance, cuts grease but doesn’t strip my hands, and foams up well. Get it at 15% off from iherb.com; I get mine through my local food co-op/drop for greater savings.

Tip: In addition to washing up dishes and other kitchen surfaces, dish soap works well to get oil stains out of clothing (think butter and peanut butter stains on kid clothes). Dawn detergent is the BEST for this, as it is an awesome grease cutter, but it’s not a natural product, so if you use it avoid touching it to your skin. Use your dish liquid full strength on the stain, let set for half an hour, rinse in the sink, then launder. Dish liquid is far too foamy for washing machines, so never add it to your load or you may have a huge mess on your hands!

Clean Floors: Bliss to My Feet

I love it when my carpets are freshly vacuumed, and my hard floors are freshly mopped (as they are right now!). Bliss to my feet!

Clean floors are an important part of home health, especially if there are babies in the home who spend a good portion of their time on the floor. Those sweet little hands that crawl on the floor. . . they go right into the mouth, don’t they?

Shoe Removal

In addition to keeping floors much cleaner through the week, shoe removal contributes to a healthy home. Most parents are aware of the hazard of lead from paint, and its toxic effect to children. Since I’ve only lived in homes built after 1978 since becoming a parent, I did not pay much attention to these warnings. Then I learned that children can still be exposed to lead through roadside dirt that has been tracked into the home (roadside dirt generally has a high concentration of lead from exhaust residue which came before lead was banned from gasoline).

Of course, I don’t do a lot of walking along major roadsides. But it did get me thinking about what else might be coming in on my shoes. From the grocery store, and occasional public restroom, to the library and local farm for eggs and milk, my shoes go many places and must have an entire mini ecosystem of bacteria and filth living on them.

And so I began removing my shoes when I enter my home, and requiring my children to do the same. It did help that we moved to a home with new carpet around that time, and the No-Shoes-on-Carpet rule became so ingrained into my children that they are now self-appointed Shoe Police, ordering all to drop their dirty duds.

Large metal bins, placed both near the front and back doors, help contain the pile of little shoes and boots that now reside near the doors.

Cleaning Floors

  • Carpets: vacuum with a strong vacuum. For spots, first blot or scrub with plain water and a terry cloth rag (old wash cloth). If it doesn’t release, use a soap-based non-aerosol carpet/upholstery shampoo. I have had good results on both carpet and upholstery with Howard Naturals Upholstery Cleaner. Equal parts vinegar and water can neutralize urine odors.
  • Hard Floors: Sweep all loose debris from floors, then mop and wipe dry.

    • For vinyl, tile, and varnished wood floors, use 2 gallons warm water and 1 cup of vinegar.
    • For Linoleum floors, use 1/4 cup vegetable oil based liquid soap in 2 gallons warm water.

    I put the solution in a bucket, and wash the floor with a rag while on my hands and knees. I use an old bath towel to dry behind as I go. More difficult than a mop? Absolutely, but a mop is really just a filthy sponge that gets used and reused on floors without cleanings in between. If you have a mop where the cleaning rag can be removed and laundered between use, awesome! Since mine was the old sponge type, I chucked it in favor of a truly clean floor. I always have a laundry load of rags to launder together in hot water and oxygen bleach at the end of cleaning day.

Bathroom Product Change-Out

This month, make it your goal to change over at least one of your bathroom chemicals to a non-toxic cleanser. This can be as easy as putting a “green” spray in your cart at the grocery store, or as resourceful as making your own.

When shopping for a pre-made cleaner, look for one with safe ingredients – and you’ll need to look up that product at the ewg database to kno. Although cleaning products labeled nontoxic, bio-based, chlorine-free, organic, phosphate-free, natural fragrance, and/or biodegradable sound great, they still may have nasty chemicals lurking in them.

Which product to begin with? I suggest changing the one you spray most often (and therefore are inhaling most). For me, this is my all-purpose spray. I used to be the Lysol Queen . . . no longer; now I clean with vinegar water or with fresh smelling All Purpose Cleaner from BioKleen. Read my series on How To Get a Really Clean Bathroom.

Alternately, you could assess which is your most toxic chemical by looking for Danger, or Caution warnings on the bottle. Of course, over time you’ll want to replace all your chemicals with non-toxic products, but if you replace just one spray cleaner or bottle marked Danger, you’re off to a great start!

What to do with the discarded cleanser? Contact the hotline of your waste management company; most have drop-off locations available for household toxic waste. Don’t be tempted to huck it in the trash or dump it in the toilet; both could cause toxic leaching into your drinking water for years to come.

How to get a Really Clean Bathroom (without asphyxiating yourself in the process)

Everyone knows how to clean a bathroom, right? Just grab your aerosol can of mega-disinfectant, spray everything in sight, wipe with a paper towel, swish the toilet with a brush, and shine the mirror with a fragranced blue liquid, and you’re done.

Perfectly clean. Or is it?

In addition to the sizable amount of grime left behind by this method, numerous toxic chemicals are left on the surfaces of your fixtures for hours or days. Not to mention all the dangerous vapors you had to inhale as you sprayed those products.

What if we cleaned our dishes this same way; some disinfectant spray and a paper towel for all the silverware and glasses after a party? Yuk, I’m not sticking that in my mouth. Although I never plan to put my mouth on my toilet, the same concept holds true: a soapy water wash is a cleaner clean.

It’s time for a new paradigm in bathroom clean.

A non-toxic clean:

  • Isn’t complicated, you’ll use items already in your kitchen
  • Can be much more affordable than using standard chemical products
  • Means you will remove the grime and odors, not cover them with disinfectants and fragrances

Read my post on Washing the Bathroom to get a blow-by-blow (albeit mundane) how-to on getting a really clean bathroom.

Step 1: Preclean Toilet

As the dirtiest part of the bathroom, the toilet should take first consideration on a precleaning. Your goal is to wipe up any gunk, hair, and yuk that you can SEE, before you come back and WASH the toilet in a few minutes. As you wipe, keep folding the paper towel to use an unsoiled area of the towel, discarding the towel when fully soiled.

  • Using the vinegar spray and paper towel, start with the top of the tank and the top of the lid (this is mostly dusting).
  • Move to spraying and wiping the area behind and around the lid bolts.
  • Then spray and wipe all around the outside of bowl including where it is bolted to the floor and the immediate floor around it.
  • Open the lid and spray and wipe the seat, under the seat, and top of bowl.
  • Lastly, spray into the toilet bowl all the surfaces not under the water, and wipe away any gunk you can see.
  • Throw the soiled paper towel(s) into the trash and flush the toilet.
  • Prepare for washing the toilet by sprinkling the toilet lip and inside of bowl with baking soda.

Go to Step 2: Preclean Vanity.