If 2020 has done anything, it has made everyone more health-conscious, but 2020 is also a year where we are more aware than ever of the detrimental effects of harsh chemicals on ourselves and the environment. Is it possible to have it both ways? Can you maintain a healthy and clean home without resorting to chemicals?
You can keep your house sparkling clean without using chemicals through the use of DIY cleaners or carefully selected cleaning products. Most non-chemical cleaners work just as well as their chemical counterparts while also being much safer for you and your family.
What natural cleaners should you use? Out of the numerous cleaning products that claim to be safer and hundreds of DIY recipes on the internet for natural cleaners, which ones will really give me a healthy home? Natural cleaners do work, as long as you pick the right ones. Keep reading to learn about products, tools, and tricks that will effectively clean your home without chemicals.
- Cleaning Tools That Can Reduce Your Chemical Use
- DIY Cleaning Concoctions
- Best Natural Cleaning Products
- Tricks when Looking for Safe Cleaning Products
Are There Cleaning Tools That Can Reduce Your Chemical Use?
Before we consider the products we clean with, let’s look at the tools we use to clean. Sometimes changing up the tools you clean with can greatly reduce your use of harsh chemicals. Here are some cleaning appliances that can help you achieve a more natural cleaning process.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
A normal rag without the use of a dusting spray does little more than moving the dust around. You try to quickly wipe down your dusty surfaces only to fill your home with loose dust that eventually settles back on the surface you just cleaned. You reach for the chemical spray because it is the only way to trap dust.
Except using a chemical spray is not the only way to trap dust! The problem here is your rag. Switch out your old cleaning rag for a microfiber cloth, and you will be amazed at the difference.
The tiny fibers in a microfiber cloth attract much more than an ordinary rag. Dirt, grease, and other grime are all far more effectively trapped when using a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are so much more effective that the need for all those sprays will virtually disappear. Even if you do still use a spray, you will be using far less.
How many of us would switch to simple and safe homemade cleaning solutions if only they were as convenient as the store-bought products? Investing in some quality spray bottles can go a long way in helping you to overcome the convenience barrier and switch to natural cleaning.
If you store your DIY cleaners in spray bottles, they become just as easy to use as store products, and you do not have to make a new batch every time you want to clean. Spray bottles also give you the ability to choose your cleaning décor, which provides that little extra bit of satisfaction.
Switch to a Reusable Dish Washing Tool
This may not get rid of chemicals exactly, but it is both more environmentally friendly and a whole lot healthier. That plastic disposable sponge you keep on the kitchen sink is a breeding ground for bacteria. Switch it out for a dishwashing tool that can be regularly washed for a non-disposable and more sanitary option.
There are several different options here. You could use linen cloths, a sponge, a natural brush, bamboo clothes, or just about any other dish rag. The things to look for when choosing something to replace your sponge are something made of natural material, and that can be washed for sanitation. Quick-drying materials will also harbor fewer bacteria.
Even if you know they are harmful to your family, it can be hard to give up the perceived power of chemicals when you want to disinfect your home. However, you can trade chemicals for heat to kill those small creatures with a steam cleaner.
Steam cleaners use extreme heat to kill germs and bacteria. Steam is also way better at penetrating porous surfaces such as couches. Steam can be used to clean a lot of your home, and it is completely non-toxic since it is just water.
A good steam cleaner can be more pricy than the other natural cleaning recommendation in our article, but it provides a permanent disinfecting tool that will never need additional purchases.
What Do-It-Yourself Cleaning Concoctions Are the Real Deal?
There are a lot of DIY cleaning mixtures that various internet gurus swear by. The first thing to look for when looking at DIY cleaning recipes is whether they use substances that are known to act as effective cleaning agents.
Here are some common materials that have proven to be effective at cleaning.
This strong-smelling household item is a wonderful cleaner. Vinegar has acetic acid. Acetic acid can dissolve grease, dirt, grime. Acetic acid is so strong that it can even kill bacteria.
Of course, there are multiple types of vinegar. White distilled vinegar is the best kind for cleaning because it does not have any additional coloring that might stain the surfaces you are trying to clean.
However, white distilled vinegar also has a very strong smell. If the vinegar smell is a major problem for you, then you can also use apple cider vinegar. Just make sure to dilute it with water so that the darker color does not cause stains.
Here are some common cleaning products that you can make with vinegar as well as tricks to clean various areas:
A spray bottle of vinegar diluted with water makes an excellent glass cleaner for your windows and mirrors.
The exact proportions vary. Some places suggest half water and half vinegar, others one part water to two parts vinegar. Still, others suggest that there should be more water and less vinegar. Find what works for you based on smell and how strong the acid content needs to be to clean your surfaces.
Vinegar can also be used to clean floors. Add a splash of vinegar (again, the exact amount is up to your personal preference) to a bucket of warm water. You can use this to mop the floor as you would normally.
Please note that while vinegar is a great floor cleaner for tile or linoleum, it should not be used on hardwood floors. Vinegar is strong, and it can dissolve the coating on your hardwood floors.
Acid is killer stuff, and germs are no exception. A solution of vinegar and water (proportions are up to you) makes an effective but gentle cleanser. Use it to wipe down countertops, cabinets, doors, and other heavy use areas.
Like with the floors, there are some things for which a vinegar cleaner is not appropriate. If you have stone countertops, avoid using vinegar as this can decrease the stone’s shine.
Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains are ugly, but they can also be one of the hardest things to remove. A combination of vinegar and salt makes a scrub to remove these stains from sinks and showerheads.
For especially stubborn stains on your faucets or showerheads, spray them thoroughly with vinegar, and then wrap them in a bag. Leave these overnight, and then wipe them down in the morning for a sparkling result.
Clean the Toilet
Vinegar can also be used to clean your toilet. Simply add a few splashes and scrub. Then let it sit for a while before scrubbing again and flushing. You may also want to put vinegar in a spray bottle for this so that you can get the vinegar under the rim of the toilet bowl as well.
Microwaves and Dishwashers
Vinegar can let you clean your microwave and dishwasher with very little elbow grease.
For the microwave, fill a microwave-safe cup with vinegar and heat it in the microwave till it boils. The condensation will cover the microwave. Let it sit for a few minutes before opening the door, so you do not get burned by the steam. Then simply wipe off the condensation.
For the dishwasher, simply put a cup of vinegar on the top rack. Then run the dishwasher with nothing else in it. Other sites suggest pouring the vinegar directly into the rinsing department. Either way, vinegar will cut through the built-up soap scum in your dishwasher.
What About the Smell?
Vinegar is strong stuff, which is why it works so well as a cleaner, but it also has an incredibly strong smell. While the smell should not last on any of the products you clean with vinegar, if you are particularly worried, you can add a few drops of essential oils to your vinegar cleaning products for a better smelling DIY cleaner.
Another much-touted household cleaning agent is baking soda. Baking soda, or its more fancy name sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile substance which not only helps in baking but is also quite effective as a cleaning agent in both removing grime and unpleasant odors.
Here are some ways you can use baking soda to naturally clean your home:
One option is to mix baking soda and a few drops of essential oil. Sprinkle this on the carpet. You can use a mason jar with holes in the lid as a shaker. Let the baking soda sit on the carpet for 15 to 30 minutes, then vacuum it up.
Not only will using baking soda on your carpets loosen dirt and grime so that you can easily vacuum it up, but it will also eliminate odors leaving the entire room with a fresh scent.
Couch and Mattress Refreshing
The same procedure can be used on mattresses, couches, and other upholstered furniture. Sprinkle the baking soda mixed with essential oil on the mattress or piece of furniture. You will want to leave this longer than on the carpet. Let it sit for at least an hour, and then vacuum.
Not only is this a natural way to clean without any harsh chemicals, but it is also a great and easy way to clean something that is normally a struggle to clean. Even if you are not worried about chemicals, this is a handy trick to keep your furniture clean and fresh.
Cleaning the Fridge
Fridges are a tricky thing to clean. They can become coated with grime, but we definitely do not want to use harsh chemicals in the place where we keep our food. You can feel completely at ease cleaning your fridge with baking soda. After all, it is something that we often put in our food.
To clean the fridge, mix baking soda with water. The exact proportions of the water to baking soda mixture can vary. Then simply dip a rag or sponge in the combination and wipe your fridge’s shelves and drawers down for a safe clean.
Deodorize the Drain
Sprinkle baking soda in a smelly drain and then wash down with warm vinegar. This will clear your drain without resorting to harsh chemicals.
Please note that this strategy is for freshening drains. It is not meant as a solution for serious clogs.
Clean Showers, Tubs, and Sinks
Baking soda also makes a gentle abrasive cleaner. Sprinkle it on showers, tubs, and sinks, then dampen with water. A spray bottle works well for this purpose. Then take a sponge and scrub the baking soda. Rinse thoroughly and enjoy your clean bathroom!
Oven and Stove
We often put our oven and stove through a lot. These areas can become some of the messiest in our home with stuck-on grime that no amount of elbow grease seems to affect. You do not have to turn to harsh chemicals to clean your oven and stove, though! All you need is baking soda and some patience.
Mix your baking soda with water to create a paste, which you will then spread on your oven and stove. Let this sit overnight. In the morning, wipe the paste off. Make sure to remove absolutely all of the baking soda.
Lemons work as a cleaning agent for the same reason vinegar does as acid. In fact, you can substitute lemon juice for many of our vinegar cleaning recommendations.
Rub your sink with lemon juice and salt to remove stains. Clean your microwave by heating a bowl of water and lemon wedges. Cleaning with lemons can be more of a hassle than vinegar, but the smell is much more pleasant.
You can use household items for a lot of things, but there is one product that you probably cannot make on your own, and that is essential for cleaning: soap. Whenever your DIY cleaners are not quite getting the job done, adding some soap can give it that needed extra edge.
Of course, you still want your cleaners to be non-toxic and chemical-free, which is why castile soap is the best soap to have around the house whenever you need some extra cleaning power.
Castile soap is made from vegetable oil rather than animal fat. It is effective but safe enough to use on your skin! You can use castile soap either as is or diluted for a number of your different soap cleaning needs.
Castile soap can be used for laundry, dishwashing, floor cleaning, and other multipurpose cleaning jobs. Know, though, that castile soap should not be mixed with vinegar! It reacts with the acid and forms a white film. The same thing will happen with lemon juice as well.
Castile soap and warm water are a great combination to give you a natural cleaner to use on tough grease and grime. If you are looking for a high-quality brand of castile soap, Dr. Bronner’s is a well-respected brand that makes a variety of different scents.
What Are The Best Natural Cleaning Products?
Maybe making your own cleaners sounds like more trouble than it is worth, or maybe you want to leave mixing concoctions to the experts. Whatever the reason, some of us prefer to buy rather than make our cleaning agents, but that doesn’t mean that we want to use chemicals in our home!
Unfortunately, not every product that claims to be natural or non-toxic is truly safe for your family. There are some great natural cleaning products out there, but not everything is what it claims to be. Here are some truly natural products and brands that are effective and safe!
Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
If you do not want to use baking soda, then Bon Ami Powder Cleanser is a gentle scrubbing powder that can be used all around the house. You can get two containers for around $10, and the ingredient list is clear and short. It is safe enough to use on cookware as well in the bathroom and all over the kitchen.
Branch Basics is a company devoted to making non-toxic cleaning products. Their main product is the Branch Basics Concentrate. When diluted with water, this concentrate can clean just about anything in your home. From laundry to everyday surfaces, Branch Basics Concentrate has got you covered.
Furthermore, Branch Basics openly lists the ingredients to their concentrate on their website, so you know exactly what you are using. You can get a starter kit with reusable bottles as well as the concentrate for $70. Branch Basics is better for your health and the environment!
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
We already mentioned this brand, but when it comes to your soap needs, Dr. Bronner’s is the place to go. Their liquid castile soap comes in 8 different scents, is completely safe to use, and has a wide variety of uses. You can wash your face, the dishes, and the floor with this stuff!
If you want a safe clean that smells wonderful, Mrs. Meyer’s is the brand for you. These cleaning products have a variety of garden scents and are made without harmful ingredients. You can look up not only what goes into Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products but also what those ingredients do on this ingredient glossary provided on their website.
Mrs. Meyer’s is an especially good brand for your kitchen cleaning needs. You can get a kitchen basic set with dish soap, hand soap, and multi-surface cleaner for only $12. They also have bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, and more. Mrs. Meyer’s is a trusted brand that can cover most of your cleaning needs safely and make your house smell amazing.
Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar
If you like the safety of vinegar but do not want to mix it yourself, Aunt Fannie’s has got you covered! At only $7 to $9 a bottle, Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar is a worthy investment. It is as safe as something you made at home but often works better than something we make ourselves.
If the smell of vinegar was making you hesitate, then Aunt Fannie’s has solved that problem as well! Aunt Fannie’s cleaning vinegar is available in four different scents for a safe and freshly clean.
Molly Sud’s Laundry Detergent
For cleaning laundry, Molly Sud’s has got a range of safe laundry detergent products to keep your clothes fresh, white, and stain-free without resorting to bleach. A pack of unscented basic laundry powder costs around $20.
Molly Sud’s has way more than just powder detergent for all of your laundry needs. They also have a stain remover, liquid detergents, whitening detergents, and more. If you want to be able to clean everything in your home, down to the dirty socks, without harsh chemicals, Molly Sud’s can help!
As the world has become more aware of the dangers of cleaning with harsh chemicals for both ourselves and the environment, there are now safer cleaning options than those listed above.
Some other brands that can help keep your home clean without chemicals include:
Tricks when Looking for Safe Cleaning Products
There are a lot of other cleaner brands out there that claim to be safe, non-toxic, and/or natural, so how do you know who is telling the truth? Here are some tips you can use to ensure that you do not bring dangerous chemicals into your home.
Try Hydrogen Peroxide Instead of Chlorine
A common ingredient used in a lot of cleaning products is chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach does kill germs extremely well, but that is because it is highly toxic. Chlorine bleach is not even safe to splash on your skin!
In addition, mixing ammonia, a common cleaning ingredient, chlorine bleach reacts, releasing a poisonous gas, which is why you should mix cleaning products! In seeking to get rid of toxic chemicals in your cleaning routine, chlorine bleach should be one of the first things to go.
As an alternative, try hydrogen peroxide-based bleach instead. Remember that stuff that your mom used to put on cuts and scrapes that stung really bad? That was probably hydrogen peroxide. It is tough enough to kill germs and mold but also safe enough for use on humans. As a bleaching ingredient, it is way safer than chlorine.
Be Careful with Labels
There are very few guidelines a company has to meet to slap the label natural or non-toxic on their products. Just because something says it is natural does not mean it is safe. The word organic has stricter standards a product must meet.
In general, just remember that just because something is natural does not make it safe. There are a lot of natural things that are poisonous to humans. Instead of trusting a label’s claims, it is best to check the ingredients yourself.
Check the Ingredients
In general, the fastest way to tell if a cleaning product is safe for you and your family is simply to check the ingredients. There are two things you should be looking for when checking a cleaning product’s ingredients.
Are the Ingredients Easy to Find?
Brands that are truly using safe and eco-friendly want to brag about it! Their ingredients are easy to find, often openly displayed on their products or website. If a product claims to be natural and safe, but it is hiding its ingredients, then it is time to get a bit suspicious.
Are the Ingredients Dangerous?
The fact of the matter is that attempting to clean without any chemicals is unrealistic. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a chemical, but we put it in food. Hydrogen peroxide is also a chemical, but we use it on our children to clean scrapes. Being safe is not about avoiding all chemicals but avoiding dangerous ones that can kill.
Here is a list of chemicals that can harm you. You should avoid cleaning products that have:
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
- Perchloroethylene (PERC)
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
This list is not all-encompassing, but it can give you an idea of what chemicals should immediately raise red flags.
You can clean your house without harsh chemicals! Now that you have some information, you can either make or buy products that clean effectively but naturally. A little cleaning knowledge can go a long way towards keeping your home healthy and clean!