When my oldest was one, he licked the toilet bowl. Okay, maybe not the bowl itself. But he got a good glob of those blue gel toilet cleaner things and ate it. Not only was I grossed out, but I was also terrified. He was our first child, and I had no idea what I was dealing with. I had to call poison control because I didn’t know if he needed his stomach pumped if the stuff would burn his esophagus, or what.
I had my cleaners high up and away so he couldn’t reach them, but this was unexpected. Who would’ve thought that a one-year-old would eat goo out of the toilet?? Now I know better. But it got me thinking about all the toxic products I had around the house.
I’m sure you have them. Your cleaning products are hidden away in that childproofed cabinet because if your child gets ahold of them, they risk injury or death if they drink it or in some cases get it on them (hello Draino). When we started to make the switch to less toxins in our home, I took a real good look at all the cleaning products I had.
Here is what my list looked like
- Blue Window Cleaner (probably Windex or a knock-off)
- Foaming tub spray
- All-purpose cleaner
- Bathroom cleaner (with bleach)
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Floor cleaner
- Dusting spray
- Carpet powder
- Dish Soap
- Dishwasher liquid
- Gel toilet cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Dryer sheets
That’s a lot of stuff! Not only is this list pretty expensive it’s also filled with many different toxins, so much so that you can’t get it in your eyes, on your skin, or ingest it without potential harm. But no one wants their home to be a cesspool of germs, so what’s the alternative?
Housecleaning is my least favorite thing to do. I don’t know many people who love it, but those who do can come to clean my place any time. I want my home to be clean, but I also don’t like nasty chemicals that burn the skin, cause respiratory issues, increase the risk of cancer, and more.
So, I started making small swaps. Did you know you can clean your windows and mirrors with water? Did you know that vinegar has mild antibacterial and antiviral properties? Did you know that some essential oils kill more germs than bleach? Did you know that baking soda is amazing for scrubbing?
Natural cleaning doesn’t need to look like 100 different new products that cost 10x as much as the old and don’t work as well as the original. In fact, it can look like a handful of products that you use in multiple ways.
Here’s my rundown of what you can do for cleaning on the cheap, healthy, and natural.
Make your own all-purpose cleaner
I use the same spray for the floors, stove top, counters, sink, dining room table, and the outside of the toilet/toilet seat. It’s affordable and EASY to make. I bought a reusable glass spray bottle and I mix all of my cleaning spray directly in it. Basically, I fill the bottle almost full with white or apple cider vinegar, add 5-10 drops of essential oils (some of my faves are DoTerra OnGuard, lemon, orange, or clove), and add 1 tsp of clear, toxin-free dish soap. Close the bottle, shake up and spray.
A quick note, some people find that vinegar is not good on natural stone and wood surfaces, nor is it good on cleaning dirt and grime. This is the reason I add a touch of soap to my all-purpose cleaner. While I haven’t had an issue using this spray, it’s something to be aware of if you have these types of surfaces. Additionally, if I have a really dirty surface, I let the spray set for a couple of minutes before I wipe down the surfaces.
Note for floors: I have linoleum in my apartment, so this means we can use the cleaner recipe for floor cleaner as well. When we had a home with laminate flooring, I simply mopped with water and dried it right away with a clean cloth. I never had any issues with this method and I know a lot of people use it on their natural surfaces.
Make your own laundry soap and ditch dryer sheets
We’ve used about a dozen different recipes for laundry detergent, and while some were better than others, it is time-consuming and is best if you can make a large amount at a time. For easier and more affordable DIY options, I find that ½ cup of baking soda, along with a squirt (about 1 TBSP) of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap does the job for most laundry loads. You can even use vinegar as a fabric softener. This doesn’t work well if you have a very soiled load, and you may need to pre-treat those dirty clothes.
Why no dryer sheets? I know you love the smell. I LOVED the smell of Bounce. But the truth is they contain a mysterious list of harmful chemicals that can increase migraines, cause respiratory issues, cause cancer, and more. I use wool dryer balls now, but I went years without dryer sheets, and here’s a secret for you, you don’t really need them. While they reduce static, if you dry your clothes until they are ALMOST dry —instead of bone dry and static-filled—you won’t need anything.
Clean the tub
I still haven’t found a great solution for cleaning the tub that makes it easy. This one is more about prevention. Wipe down the tub and shower after use, and you won’t need to scrub as much grime off of it when you clean. You can also create a shower after-spray using ½ vinegar, ½ water and a couple of drops of essential oils.
If you need to scrub, a good tub brush, soap, water, and baking soda will go a long way to help. But you still need to scrub a bit. I’ve seen recipes for a Homemade Soft Scrub, but haven’t put it to use just yet.
Clean the toilet
I use baking soda and vinegar and a scrub brush for this project. I put ¼ cup of baking soda into the toilet, then pour in vinegar to get it fizzy. Yay chemical reactions. I leverage the bubbles to help me scrub and this works really well to clean the toilet. After I get the outside of the toilet and the seat clean with my all-purpose spray, I am good to go.
Window and mirror cleaner
Want that streak-free shine? It’s not as hard as they make it out to be. Spray the surface with water or vinegar if you prefer, then wipe with a clean cloth. Sometimes, I’ll wipe the mirrors with a wet cloth and then use the dry cloth immediately after. It may take a few swipes, but it’s free and has no toxic chemicals.
Vinegar and castile soap don’t mix. Trust me, I tried it. The vinegar turns the castile soap into a white gooey mess.
Your house will smell like vinegar while you clean. But it’s only temporary and the smell will dissipate in short order. Remember when you make the switch, that your nose is used to toxic chemicals that were designed to make you love them.
Do you clean with natural products? Tell me your favorite ways to get things clean!