Just in time for spring cleaning. Truth is my secret to a clean and organized home is a never ending “spring cleaning”. It de-stresses and makes me happy. So today, I am sharing my favourite non toxic cleaning products.
Ever since we started paying attention to what food we nourish our body with, slowly over the years I have revamped my cleaning and personal care products arsenal. A light went off after I have read that skin is our largest organ. The fact that it is an organ like liver or heart completely surprised me. I had no idea, am I the only one?! I started thinking if I’m so diligent about eating healthy, then how does body lotion and sun screen I put on my skin affect my health?! Is it similar to spraying sun screen directly onto my liver?! Jokes aside, my concerns grew and the research I have done has supported them.
In 2011, during my pregnancy with Adam, I became extremely sensitive to scents. I couldn’t bear wearing perfume, I blame it on hormones. A year later when I started working in the office, my boss was wearing a strong perfume (the fact that we didn’t exactly love each other didn’t help either) I couldn’t bear. It was literally a torture to go to work (in many other ways too). I also noticed whenever I washed mirrors with Windex, I was desperately gasping for air and tried not to breathe. The same goes for laundry detergents, some of them smell so strong that I can’t stand long next to a person.
Long story short, I’m sharing with you my most beloved non toxic cleaning products I use all the time now. Through trial and error, I found my store favourites, DIY natural cleaning products recipes and came up with simple solutions that work for me. These are practical and realistic natural cleaning products that are dirt cheap. I am a very practical person who doesn’t make everything from scratch or buys expensive chemical free cleaning products and solutions. Everything here is based on common sense and if you have something to add, by all means please leave a comment.
At the end of the post, I share 5 mainstream cleaning products that I can’t give up, just yet.
11 Non Toxic Cleaning Products that Work for Me
I have been using Nellie’s Laundry Soda for 1.5 years now and couldn’t be happier. I buy mine at Costco online (whenever it is on sale at $89 – regular price is $99, not a big deal either) which comes out to $0.08 per load. It is a local Vancouver, BC product; I don’t think US Costco online sells it but Amazon does. Comparable product in the US would be Molly’s Suds.
I like Nellie’s because it is made with non toxic ingredients, has no smell and does the job. I have 2 boys who are dirty, smelly and play sports. And Nellie’s works for me and many others as you can tell by the exceptional reviews. Mine and Alex clothes isn’t that really dirty, it just needs to be freshened up.
As far as homemade laundry detergent goes, I used to make my own but then I stopped because it is made with regular soap, which I was told can damage the washer, as soap can’t dissolve completely and solidifies in cold water.
There is so much more than lint in my Lint bucket.
I do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets. They are full of toxic chemicals, are completely unnecessary and are a money waste. And as for softener, get ready for truth – it makes material less absorbent, gets trapped in the fibers of clothing essentially acting like a wax. If your towels smell with mildew, first ditch the fabric softener, then try to wash them with good old baking soda and rinse with vinegar (DO NOT put both together for the wash step). The problem I do not have anymore – stinky towels.
As I was “dying” from lack of air while washing mirrors, I thought there should be a better way. Not dying but seriously why breathe all these toxic fumes?! I understand you can’t run away from pollution etc. but I want to do as much as I can not breathe in toxicity that is damaging to our health. After a quick Google search, I found this DIY Glass cleaner recipe but it’s not the one I use. In the comments, I found another recipe that reader Cheri shared, and let me tell you that I and my cleaning lady, Carole, consider it the best one ever (and Carole tried many)! The difference between this and others is that it contains alcohol and cornstarch which makes glass squeaky clean without streaks or wiping for minutes like with only vinegar based ones. So, here it is.
The Best Homemade Glass Cleaner Recipe
1/4 cup alcohol ($ store works) or cheap vodka
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix together and put in a spray bottle (I reused from store-bought cleaner). You will need to shake it frequently to keep the cornstarch mixed in.
There is a story around town about Olena and her natural glass cleaner. The recipe calls for alcohol citing vodka as an option. Me and Alex quit drinking hard liquor years ago and somehow ended up with quite a few bottles of vodka, including Grey Goose. People gift us vodka all the time, probably because we are Russians, cliche but true. So what a girl to do but rather than use what she has on hand?! When I told our hockey parents-friends my glass cleaner is made with Grey Goose, their shock and disappointment I see to this day every time I meet them at the rink. Now I’m known as Kyle’s mom, that Ukrainian girl who is crazy about organic food and makes “Windex” with Grey Goose. Oh well.
All Purpose Cleaner
There is nothing water with vinegar mixed in old Windex bottle can’t clean, almost nothing. The ratio is probably is 20:1, eyeballed. Sometimes I add a drop of cheap essential oil but do not notice much difference. It doesn’t leave a vinegary smell anywhere, don’t worr,y and even slight one goes away really fast. How cheap and convenient it is, right?!
Uses: kitchen cabinets, stove top, doors, walls, toilet, bathrooms, car etc. you name it.
Any cheap eco friendly aka natural dish soap works. I usually spend around $3-4 and it does the job, has barely any smell and I’m totally used to less foam. At first, I thought it doesn’t clean well because of lack of foam, but with time I got used to it. Now I find conventional dish soap creates too much foam that takes extra time to rinse off, it annoys me. And again the artificial perfume smell is just too much for my delicate airways.
Out of 3 I tried, my favourite is Seventh Generation.
All Purpose Cloths
I have a bunch of these, what looks like, cotton mini towels that you typically see at the gym. And truth is mine are from a gym. I know it is dishonest but over the years Alex brought so many of them home from the gym… He is a guy, he just grabs one after a workout and forgets, but truth is he likes them. I know it puts us into a category of horrible people but I think we have been there for a while playing our favourite game, so it is what it is. By the time I noticed his habit, it was kinda too late and we just kept them. So we use these cleaning rags (not sure if that is the right word – what is called rags, people?) for cleaning everything: dry ones for dust, on mirrors with my glass cleaner, wet on walls and floors, and even a separate one for cleaning the toilet itself. The beauty is you dirty one and throw it in the wash, and move on to the next one. One end can stay dry, the other wet for multi purpose cleaning at same time.
I do not buy paper towels.
Dish cloths are tough to pick, were tough. I do not like mini towels that have to be washed. I like a cloth that I can squeeze well, is light and doesn’t smell. I found these thin square foamy cloths and been using them for years, then throwing out after a few weeks. Now they disappeared but I came up with a solution. I buy these thin felt ones at the $ store and wash them after a week. They do not smell, are super absorbent and reusable. Love them!
Another tip: if your dish cloths smell after a wash, again look into ditching the softener and switching to a natural detergent. Trust me, the issue will be gone. Same goes for kitchen towels.
These disposable scrubs from $ store are great for cleaning the stove, sink and pots.
Baking soda can do wonders for any tough to remove dirt/oil that has to scrubbed. Think of it like a natural Comet. I put a bit on a green scrub and clean the gas stove top, sink, mugs, silverware. Kitchen seems to get the most use of it. Because it rains so much in Vancouver, in spring I scrub all outside surfaces that have gone green with baking soda and then hose off. Clearly driveway gets pressure washed.
Besides homemade cleaners with vinegar, I use it for washing floors. I don’t know how about you but I always found washing laminate flooring without leaving the streaks tricky. Mine is almost like glass, you can see streaks depending on the light. Adding a bit of vinegar in a bucket with warm water solves this problem. It is amazing.
Another amazing thing is how cheap a gallon of vinegar is, and the best part is that you don’t have to worry about spending money on organic one. Regular GMO corn vinegar is perfect. Real life.
Moving away from Bath and Body Works plugins and candles was the last step I took to free our air from toxins. I think this is one of a few products which smell didn’t bother me but hot oil from the plugins has damaged many electric outlets in my house.
For my birthday, Alex gave me a Sage essential oil diffuser. We have a smaller one in our master bedroom. Essential oils smell amazing and have many healing properties, and there is a whole science behind every scent which I haven’t mastered yet. I also have heard many great things about doTerra oils and am open to any recommendations and suggestions. I honestly didn’t take time to study this area enough.
I do find that diffuser’s smell is not as strong as the plugins or candles. In terms that it doesn’t cover as large area as they do, or maybe Saje oils aren’t concentrated enough, or I simply need more diffusers or a smaller house. But that is OK. I turn it on for a few hours and my main living area smells amazing.
Bathroom Air Freshener
In a little spray bottle, I mix water and a few drops of essential oil and voila. I got this mist years ago, then ran out and made my own. Substantial savings!
Stainless Steel Cleaner
It removes discolouration and stains from my stainless steel Cuisinart pots like no baking soda can do. I can’t find the ingredients but the bottle claims it is non-toxic and biodegradable. The fact that I bought it at same time as the pots back in 2004, makes it almost antique or the fact that I do not scrub my pots often enough quite obvious.
5 Toxic Cleaning Products that Work for Me
Now that I told you all about my chemical free cleaning products, let me tell you about the toxic cleaning products I just can’t give up.
Magic eraser is super powerful, like it takes off a layer on painted walls and doors. I do not use it for that. What I use it for is hard to remove stains from my light quartz countertops – pencils and permanent markers (kids!) marks, turmeric stains and belt buckle scratches on a side. Yes, quartz is like that – beautiful but stains easily. I haven’t found anything else that works better. I use wet cloth to wipe it off well after and it doesn’t get into our food. Do not overdo it though because it can remove some of the top coat.
Oxi Clean Spray
Mostly for hockey puck’s marks on kids’ jerseys and very few food stains. I find Nellie’s washes clothes really well. A bottle of Oxi Clean lasts me years. You want a tip about removing blood stains? On a fresh blood stain (before any washing) put some cold water (warm/hot water helps the stain to set in), rub in a bit of shampoo and let sit for 10 minutes. After rub well, rinse with cold water and wash. Works like a charm!
I have tried many eco-friendly dishwasher tablets, powders and gels and none of them work. I’m scared to buy any more because then I’m stuck with it for a while and I absolutely can’t stand my glasses dirty. I haven’t tried 7th Generation or Nellie’s though. I have been using Finish for years, and Cascade, but recently Alex bought Kirkland and they are pretty good. Again, open to all of your recommendations.
Stainless Steel Wipes
I don’t know of any natural product that can keep my stainless steel appliances clean. I use these wipes, and according to EWG wipes are less harmful than spray – makes sense because you breathe in more as the product is being dispersed in the air. Open to suggestions. Does olive oil work?
For spot removal on whites.
So here you have my list. By adopting new natural cleaning routine I’m saving a ton of money by not buying a product for each purpose, time – I never run out of anything, stress and health. I do not mean to sound like a broken record but in Ukraine we had a mop, water, 2 types of soap, bleach, vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. In North America, aisles upon aisles of cleaning products are overwhelming, unhealthy and are simply money grabbers. After spending money on all the stuff we are constantly being bombarded with, feeling the pressure of “I gotta have it”, no wonder many of us do not have savings.
Take care of your health and wallet. Being healthy isn’t expensive at all!