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In the last couple of years, I have tried to really reduce my family’s exposure to toxins. Unfortunately this isn’t so easy today, as there are chemicals in everything. It’s in the air, water, food (we’ve mostly fixed this!), and of course, cleaning products. Cleaning products are a major source of toxins in our homes, and unfortunately, they get to us easily. They absorb into our skin from our clothing, into our food from our dishes, we breathe in the fumes, and into our hands just from actually cleaning with them.

A More Natural Solution

So, I needed a more natural solution. It’s especially important now that Bekah loves to “help” with everything I do (surprisingly she’s becoming more of an actual help and less of a hindrance these days…with most chores). I really don’t feel good about allowing her to help if I’m using any form of chemical because I just don’t want her exposed to that. It’s especially important now that we know about her chemical sensitivities!

Traditional cleaning products are dangerous. Here is a list of products I use sparingly, if ever, in my home:

  • Bleach
  • Toilet cleaner (I never allow any children around when I use this)
  • CLR
  • Ammonia
  • Any commercial product (Magic Erasers, window cleaners, etc.)

Here is a brief list of the types of cleaning products I typically use:

  • Baking Soda — It freshens refrigerators, scrubs counters, takes stink from laundry, scrubs away mildew, etc. This is my all-purpose cleaner.
  • Vinegar — Functions as fabric softener, cleans glass, mirrors, and combines with baking soda to make just about anything shine.
  • Soap Nuts — Much more on this in another post, but I use these for laundry and in my dishwasher.
  • Essential oils — I add this to laundry or dishwasher detergent on occasion, because they are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, not chemical, and they smell nice.
  • Hydrogen peroxide — If I must use a “chemical,” peroxide will get just about any organic stain (think: blood, tomatoes, grape juice, etc.) out of anything.
  • Castile Soap — This is a soap based purely on vegetable oils and nothing else, no chemicals. It’s perfectly safe to use for ANY cleaning. Around the house, your body, your hair, your teeth. Completely non-toxic and very versatile.

I really don’t use much more than that. I don’t buy any of the fancy natural cleaning brands. Most things really can be cleaned with just vinegar and baking soda, safely. I don’t have to worry if my daughter dips her hands in the baking soda and then in her mouth. Totally safe!

Products You Can Buy

Some people do prefer to buy some natural cleaning products, though, so I thought I’d list a few I’ve found acceptable (and which were recommended by other bloggers):

I know some people are going to say “But what about Clorox’s green line?” or some other major national brand. I don’t tend to trust those. I think those companies are trying to cash in on the green movement and that their products contain supposedly-”greener” versions of chemicals. The small, fringe companies tend to use truly natural ingredients. Mrs. Meyer’s uses essential oils for fragrance, NOT any artificial fragrance or dyes. If you can find it at a health food store, it’s probably okay, but read the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce them or they sound at all chemical in nature, or contain any FD&C dyes or artificial fragrance, WALK AWAY!

Others are going to say, “But don’t those natural products not work as well?” The answer is FALSE! In my experience, the natural products did a BETTER job than the chemicals did. Surfaces were less sticky, things cleaned easier. I once had a mold problem in my shower (well, it’s back…because I never use the shower so I don’t look at it, and Ben has ignored it) and tried EVERYTHING to get it out: CLR, bleach, every harsh chemical in the book. Nothing. Then one day I flooded it with warm water and baking soda, and a half hour later put some baking soda on a sponge and began to scrub the shower. The mold was GONE! That easily. Baking soda “cured” my problem. Bleach couldn’t touch it, but baking soda eliminated it. Hmm….

Here’s some more links and information on cleaning naturally:

What do you use to clean? Do you want to clean more naturally?


This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (5), Daniel (4), Jacob (2), and Nathan (born March 2013). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children. You can also find her as a contributor at Keeper of the Home.

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3 Comments

  1. The reason (most likely) baking soda worked on mold – mold grows on acidic surfaces, like fruits. If you make the surface more basic, it would kill the mold, thus getting rid of the problem!

    I don't know if you use this, but one great stain remover that I've found (besides hydrogen peroxide and blood…I love that one – used it all the time in high school what with my crazy hormones causing all sorts of bodily mishaps on my clothes…ahem…) is liquid dish detergent. I've used it to get ground-in dark chocolate out of a white ribbed shirt, and week old dried blood out of a turquoise shirt. Put article to be cleaned into a sink with cold water, wet garment, apply soap directly to the stain, rub it in, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

    I have found that nothing works to get my hair out of the shower drain. We have a hair catcher and I still manage to clog it up somehow. We do use Liquid Plumber on that…I tried and tried with baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water, but it never worked. We'd be showering in water up over the tops of our feet at its best, so I did cave and use that.

    Reply

  2. *To mop, I use hot water and vinegar.
    *I keep meaning to switch laundry soap, but just get overwhelmed at the options. I know our cloth dipes would benefit from a more natural wash routine…we currently use ALL F&C (and, I know, it's not really free or clear of everything), Dawn and Calgon. Oh, and Borax and vinegar. Whew.
    *For kitchen and bathroom cleaning, it's GreenWorks. I like it. I tried the Seventh Generation and didn't like how it cleaned–we have this stink issue in our downstairs bathroom, I can't figure out what the heck it is. It has smelled bad since we moved in, and the Seventh Generation did NOTHING and made me feel like it was still dirty. The GreenWorks has a scent so I feel better…I know that doesn't mean it's *cleaning* any better, but it masks the bad smell in our bathroom, lol.
    *I clean the stovetop with baking soda, mostly. And a scrubby sponge or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I have tried the stove cleaner they sell in stores, and Bar Keeper's Friend, and nothing works as well as baking soda and a little elbow grease!
    *In our carpet cleaner, we have water and vinegar. If the cats puke/dog pees we use a pet cleaner product. Not green at all, but neither is letting the kid play on pooped-on carpet, lol.
    *I only use bleach/bleach-esque products on the toilets. I've tried EVERYTHING else and nothing keeps them from getting nasty in just a week's time.

    Reply

  3. The other day I nearly burned down my kitchen top because I fell asleep "cooking" some oil in a frying pan. Now I've got this thick black filmy smoky residue on my above-stove microwave. Do you think baking soda will work? Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.

    Reply

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