Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The post does contain affiliate links from which I earn a modest amount of revenue that helps underwrite the cost of upkeeping the site.
Kids eating food is not clean.
It’s not supposed to be.
And when babies are learning how to eat, it’s especially messy.
…and that’s ok.
…because our goal as parents and caregivers is not to PREVENT the mess, but rather to PROVIDE our babies the ample opportunity to learn HOW to eat…
But wanting to MINIMIZE the mess is ALSO perfectly ok!
Today I’m sharing three applications of my favorite non-toxic cleaner that is guaranteed to minimize ALL your kids’ mess: at the table, doing dishes and even pesky food stains on clothes.
Cleaning Up Cleaning Supplies
As a mom of 7 small children I spend a LOT of time cleaning.
And I’ve been *meaning* to clean up my act with regards to the chemicals in my cleaning supplies for some time now.
In my line of work I feel like I spend so much time concentrating on better-for-you food and beverage choices for kids, that I totally lose time and energy to seek the same for the cleaning products in my house.
But 2 of the gals I work with are super fans of a brand called Branch Basics and they turned me on to these non-toxic cleaning supplies.
And when I say they’re Branch Basics “super fans”: one girl lives on a boat and says she uses the cleaner probably 100 different ways to keep her place ship shape 😉... and my other colleague is so particular about any product she endorses that if she recommends it I’ll just buy it.
Which is how the Branch Basics starter kit ended up at my house.
If you haven’t heard of Branch Basics it’s a genius concept: a non-toxic concentrate you use to “make” every cleaner for your house.
You mix their non-toxic soap concentrate in varying concentrations with your filtered water, shake it up and voila! ...you have an all-purpose cleaner, a bathroom cleaner, foaming hand wash, streak-free for windows and the oxygen boost that works for laundry, dish soap, dishwashers...you name it.
The starter kit is a great way to test out all of the power of the Branch Basics concentrate. And it pencils out to be cheaper than buying individual cleaners with disposable bottles that are packed with harsh chemicals.
You can get 15% off their starter kit with code KATIE15 by clicking here.
$15 OFF BRANCH BASICS STARTER KIT CODE KATIE15
I’ve been trying out various applications of the Branch Basics products all over my house...and I was super skeptical that a “human-safe” “non-toxic” “biodegradable” product “not tested on animals” would actually get anything clean.
And it does WONDERS for baby and kid feeding mess to boot!
Let’s Start with the Table
Everyone knows the cardinal rule of dealing with the BLW mess: don’t let wet baby food dry.
As I mentioned above, our feeding goal is not to PREVENT the mess...but I sure as heck am not going to do anything to make it worse.
And if you’ve ever “forgotten” to clean up a feeding area smeared in what was once oatmeal but is now hardened oats that are indelibly lacquered to your table, you know what I’m talking about.
It’s important not to try to clean your baby as she or he is eating. Constantly wiping a baby or scraping their face with a spoon to catch dribbles is not only a negative sensory experience that can turn a baby off of food (...how would YOU feel if you were trying to learn how to eat oatmeal and this lady kept coming at you with her wet wipe?!) - but it’s actually IDEAL for babies to experience the sensation of food or liquid dripping or dribbling as part of the learning-to-eat process.
But once the meal is over…
...it’s GAME ON.
I scoop my baby up, go right to the sink, wash her hands and face with warm water cupped in my hand. Wipe that water off with a clean dish towel, set her somewhere safe and get right to work!
I’ve been using the Branch Basics all purpose cleaner on the table and high chairs right after meal time and it works like a charm.
And I should be accurate: my 6-year-old LOVES to help clean so she has been tasked with spraying down the table.
For particularly messy meals (chili, spaghetti, anything with turmeric or curry powder…) I’ll spray with the Branch Basics All-Purpose cleaner and let it marinate on the mess for about 10-15 minutes. I’ve found this helps break things up and makes the clean up quicker.
Does a Number on Dishes
Don’t judge but I have 2 dishwashers. (I rarely pull the “Well...I have 7 kids” card - but in this instance, it is totally why I have 2 dishwashers).
I accidentally thought the “foaming wash” was for dishes at first, so I started using it for washing pots and pans and it works fabulous.
Foaming wash is probably intended for hands, but I make it a little stronger concentration and it’s perfect as a non-toxic dish soap replacement.
But what about the dishwasher?
For a long time I was pretty happy with dishwasher detergent pods. They got the job done...I mean they were pricey but the dishes came out clean.
Then BOTH of my dishwashers started acting wiggy and weren’t really cleaning & only eating half the pods and I couldn’t figure it out.
I read up on the different ways you can use Branch Basics Oxygen Boost + the concentrate in the dishwasher (this blog post by the brand is AMAZING for dishwashing info) and so I trialed two separate approaches:
First I did a scoop of the Oxygen Boost in the soap dispenser and topped it off with 2 teaspoons of the concentrate.
My second intervention was a scoop of Oxygen Boost in the soap dispenser but then sprinkling the top rack of dirty dishes with 2 teaspoons of concentrate mixed with 1 cup of water to make a soapy water.
This felt weird and to be honest the results were not as great as the concentrate in the dispenser.
But the concentrate in the dispenser: worked like a charm and solved my pod problem. My husband’s only complaint was that the dishes don’t “smell” clean (FTR they don’t “smell” dirty either) - and a friendly reminder that it’s the caustic chemicals in the traditional cleaners that convey that “clean” smell we have been conditioned to expect.
I for one am happy to forego that “fresh clean” smell in place of non-toxic, clean dishes. It’s like someone cleaned my dishes and then Windexed them for no streaks...you know, without the Windex chemicals.
For the Love of Laundry
At best my laundry situation can be described as...intense.
At worst it’s an avalanche.
We do about 12 loads a week.
Also was into pods here, but willing to try out the Branch Basics as a detergent.
I have a washing machine that does basically 2X the typical load, so I usually use 2 pods in every washing load.
For Branch Basics, you use ¾ cap of their Laundry Detergent + 1 scoop of Oxygen boost (same powder I was using up in the dishwasher…) and that’s for a standard load.
Doubling that, double load gets 1.5 caps of Laundry Detergent & 2 scoops of Oxygen Boost & it’s working great for the laundry.
Stain Lifter Central
I’ve always been a big stain sprayer...using traditional “get-the-stain-out” type sprays that work find, but I now realize are pretty laden with chemicals I’m trying to phase out.
You can use the Branch Basics all-purpose cleaner, spray it on a stain, let it soak for 15 minutes and then add to laundry as you normally would.
Another approach for getting stains out is spray with the all-purpose cleaner, then sprinkle oxygen boost on top, wet with more all-purpose and let sit or even soak in water overnight before washing.
I’ve done both of these approaches & have been able to get s’mores stains, spaghetti sauce stains and then the random dirt mixed in with it out of all of my kids’ clothes.
I did accidentally use the bathroom cleaner instead of all-purpose on stains and because of the more concentrated solution I noticed it did do a better job than the all-purpose.
But regardless, this can work on stains too.
Starting with Less Mess
I will grant that my kids probably get more messy at meals than most.
I’m resigned to letting them experience and explore the full sensory realm of becoming independent eaters...but it does end up getting pretty messy.
In our house for all baby-led weaning I always use a splash mat under the baby’s high chair. It’s a great way to capture dropped food on a clean surface that you can recycle back up to the baby’s plate or bowl.
The splash mats I like are from Bapron Baby and you can get 10% off with code KATIE10.
I also love their full coverage bibs for babies and bigger kids. These bibs tie in the back under the baby’s shoulder blades, giving more comfort so the bib isn’t up around her neck - plus they’re harder for babies to remove on their own.
BAPRON BABY BIBS + SPLASH MATS CODE KATIE10
The “toddler” size bapron is for 6m-3 years, although I’ve found by age 2 most babies need to size up into the “preschool” size that fits up until 5 or 6 years of age no problem.
Check out the new line of Bapron Baby World of Eric Carle print bibs here. If you’re a fan of Carle’s books like the Very Hungry Caterpillar or the Grouchy Ladybug, you’re definitely going to want to grab these before they’re gone!
Just Starting Out with Baby-Led Weaning?
If your baby is just starting solids, come check out my free online workshop “BABY-LED WEANING FOR BEGINNERS”.
This is an hour workshop packed with everything you need to give YOUR baby a safe start to solid foods using baby-led weaning.
Everyone on the workshop gets a copy of my 100 FIRST FOODS list...so you can be knocking out a ton of new foods with your baby as soon as it’s time to begin BLW.
Click here to sign up for this week’s workshop times and learn how your baby can eat 100 foods before turning 1 without YOU having to spoon-feed purees or buy pouches.
Hope to see you there!