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!
Great web site! What do you use for dusting wood furniture?
Just barely wet microfiber cloth or even dry one.
Did you try alcohol to remove the marker stains from your counter?
Yes. Doesn’t work.
Love your website! Have you tried Dr. Bronners Sal Suds and their Castile Liquid Soaps?? Made with organic and certified fair trade ingredients.
Hi Laura! Thank you so much!
I buy their castile liquid soap all the time. I dilute it with water for a body wash and face soap in a pumping foam bottle. Saves a lot of money. How do you use yours? Have never seen the sal suds. Will check them out.
And you can customize your cream and make it more lotion like by adding more oil, or change the oil, to something with with different skin benefits, apricot seed oil, hemp, or good old olive oil (be sure you’re getting the real thing!)
For my body lotion/hand cream, I use 1 part mango, and avocado butters, 1/2 part shay butter and coconut oil, and 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. All or as many as I can find are organic, but at least if they are not, I know that it is all that is in there! At room temperature, these whip up with my electric hand mixer. The cream combines and become soft and silky and the volume increases as it whips up. At the end, you can scent it with essential oils but I prefer mine natural. It’s a nice, natural very soft aroma that quickly soaks in and is gone. I make it about three times a year, storing it in 8oz ball squatty (I made that word up I think!) canning jars that I bought for this, and store the extras in my fridge, though I don’t think it is necessary. In very hot weather it will get soft, but we usually turn on the air due to allergies anyway. A stick blender does not work for reason! But the stand mixer does.
That’s a rather lengthy ‘recipe’ for something that takes just a few minutes to make! I use my kitchen scale to weigh the butters. Also, the ingredients feel expensive initially but I really only purchase them once a year. That’s enough for my whole years worth. A bargain in the long run.
Actually it’s simple. I have all the tools, just need to find these ingredients.
Thank you! I might try. I don’t use lotions often because Vancouver is super humid but will keep this recipe in mind.
Also, looking into the laundry detergent, thankyouverymuch! I thought I was doing well with commercial clear, no scent, allergenic for sensitive skin and using only a tiny amount. I did track the brand down to a local hardware store!
Wow, good for Nellie’s, their distribution is quite good I guess. Enjoy, you will love it!!!
What do you regularly use for your toilets? We have issues with water stains due to yellow water and it’s nearly impossible to remove. Ugh! Thanks for another fun, great post!
Just water and vinegar but our water is very low in minerals and is very soft. I’m sure Magic Eraser will work. Also look in the comments, my friend swears by Scrub Hard Surface Cleaner by Pink Solution for tough stains – natural and look for distribution near you. I will be trying it.:)
Thank you Olena for this SUPER informative post! It got me kind of excited about cleaning (I love making my own stuff/cutting on harmful chemicals and saving money of course!)
I washed my first load of laundry with Nellie’s Laundry Soda a couple of days ago, amazing! Thank you for the tip on mildew-smelling towels, somehow I never had this problem in Ukraine (I moved to Vancouver 1,5 years ago). And I thought that the issue was humidity or poor quality of towels (which shouldn’t be that bad really). I guess it was the laundry detergent we were using. After the soda – no smell so far, but if it returns, I’ll try rinsing with some vinegar.
Thank you for your amazing recipes and home inspiration! I love you blog <3
What immigrant doesn’t love to save money?!:) You are very welcome. I used to blame mildew on Vancouver’s humidity too but then after a lot of Googling I realized it is not the reason. My SIL has the same issue in Atlanta. You were quick on finding Nellie’s, seems like they have great distribution. Glad you are enjoying the blog.:)
I love all your suggestions! I use 7th generation dish soap. I buy a few bottles when it’s on sale. I have a diffusor too and my son just gave me a relaxation essential oil blend kit from Saje to use in it. My sis sells Young Living products so that’s where I got my diffusor with some oils also. I love EO’s. No synthetic fragrances for me. Also I buy the biggest jug of Pink Solution and make the 2 concentrations of liquid they suggest. That’s what I use for everything. I pour them into spray bottles and add a variety of EO’s for antimicrobial benefits. I also buy that huge jug of vinegar for toilets and I add it to my rinse to lessen static on my clothes. I’ve been using Arm and Hammer unscented laundry soap. Recently I bought a huge jug of 7th Generation because it was on sale and it’s working really well. I also use the Oxiclean to get out stains. I love the Mother’s choice from PInk Solution for all scrubbing. It has very fine pumice in it. Gets rid of all scuff marks including shower glass gunk. It’s pure soap with just the little bit of grit. Makes my stainless steel sink sparkle (I’ve also used lemon and salt for that too). I think that’s all I can offer. The dishwasher is a pain though. Currently I’m trying some pods I think they’re 7 Generation too. I like them so far. They were on sale too when I bought them 🙂
Live and learn. I have never heard of Pink Solution and just Googled it. Sounds good and seems like London Drugs and Save On carries it. Do they have Mother’s Choice? It might replace my magic eraser. You think? I also have this huge black spot from fireplace on the side of our house I need to get rid off.
And where are all the sales you are talking about? Superstore? I get my 7th generation at Superstore. Not sure I have seen it on sale there…My memory is getting worse, I used to be so sharp!
Great tip about vinegar for rinse – some washes come out very static because of kids’ fleece PJs and pants.
Have you tried using Pink Solution for laundry? Website says you can. Thank you so much for all your great tips!!!
I use the vinegar to combat the static when I wash my work scrubs at home. It does help, so, I use it now when I use most things. I get the same big jug you showed. I actually went right to North Van to meet the guy that makes the Pink Solution and Mother’s Choice. Years ago I used to make all natural soap and when I stopped doing that I found him. It’s so close to what I used to make so I bought a few tubs of each from him. I see they sell both at Costco occasionally. I haven’t used them in laundry but I should try that too. I have seen the 7th generation products on sale at London Drugs and that’s when I grab a few always. I don’t think I’ve seen them on sale elsewhere. Love learning new things from everyone too!
Ooooh!!! Thank-you! That window cleaner works BETTER than the top brand of the harmful stuff that has me wearing a mask, gloves, and long sleeves to use! As soon as I saw your recipe I mixed it up and tried! I am so sensitive to chemicals and react with asthma.
One time a shower cleaner sent me over the edge and my husband quickly rushed me to the walk-in off site hospital clinic. No matter how much oxygen and shots of Epinephrine until they couldn’t give me any more and they weren’t helping. I could not breath and it felt like I was dying. That doctor called an ambulance to take me one mile down the road to the main hospital where I was in intensive care for two days. Total hospital stay was four days, all from shower cleaner! That was about 15 years ago and since then I so careful about cleaning products. But my glass and mirrors suffered with purchased natural (expensive) and homemade recipes! But your recipe is great! And so I can do my glass without mask, gloves and long sleeves.
And yes! Vinegar water is the best for all-purpose! Can’t beat the price either. I will use ammonia for heavy dirt, which I try hard to not to let gather, but on occasion I will pick something up at a garage sale and need to ‘go heavy’ on it, lol! If it is a pot or metal, wiping it with ammonia, sealing it in a black plastic bag and putting it in the sun for a day or even two, in the yard does wonders for grease! Works wonders for old cast iron pans if you find those and they’re sticky with grease. You’ll have to re season them.
I too make my body and hand creams and also shower soap! But mostly, thank-you, thank-thank-you! For the glass and mirror recipe! It’s the best and I have tried them all!
Awesome, I told you!
Oh my, that was horrible. I do believe that all those chemicals are responsible for many health problems.
How do you make your hand creams and soap? I haven’t ventured out that far yet, not sure I have enough patience for that haha.