Non-Toxic Housekeeping

I’ve been on a mission over the last few months to switch all of my conventional cleaning supplies over to non-toxic cleaning agents. Part of this decision came from the way I feel when using chemical cleaners (I can’t seem to tolerate bleach-based bathroom cleaners at all – dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, and headachy after about fifteen minutes of exposure), part of the decision came from a desire to be more ecologically conscious, and also in part because nobody seems to know how all these chemicals are truly affecting our bodies and minds.


Lemon oil has become my new best friend when it comes to cleaning my home. This exquisite oil has antimicrobial properties, can be found at virtually ANY health food store (including some grocery stores, such as Whole Foods), and can even be used on finished wood surfaces when diluted. I keep my 2 oz bottle in the kitchen windowsill above my sink within easy reach for getting rid of odors in the garbage disposal and mixing up spray bottles for multi-purpose cleaning. I have a plastic spray bottle underneath the sink with water and lemon oil in it. (I start with about 15 drops of lemon oil per 6 oz of water, but I do add more oil for heavier jobs. Be sure to shake the bottle before using, since the oil and water won’t want to mix on their own.) I use this for cleaning countertops and other hard surfaces as well as removing odors from carpet and upholstered furniture.

To clean my shower, I just twist the nozzle to a “stream” setting and blast away mildew and mold from the corners of the shower and along grout lines.  It is incredibly effective, actually a little gross to watch.  Not only does the lemon oil kill the mildew and mold but it seems to help loosen it from surfaces. Lemon oil is safe on finished wood, so I can also spray down my coffee table, end tables, and dining room table and wipe away dirt and dust with a rag.

I’ve also found that it’s great at loosening tough grease build-up in the kitchen. Put 4-5 drops on a wet rag and scrub away that greasy buildup on your range’s hood and vents, top of your range and any other greasy, sticky surface. The best part about this is that there’s no need to rinse away chemical cleaners afterwards- just wipe down with a clean rag! It does take some elbow grease, but I feel much better about this method than chemical cleaners.


I’ve also been using baking soda and vinegar in my sink and toilets. Sprinkle baking soda over the area to be cleaned and spritz with vinegar in a spray bottle or pour straight from the container in small amounts. The fizzing action will help loosen tough stuck-on buildup, and when it’s done fizzing, the gentle abrasive of baking soda helps to scrub away whatever’s left! I finish my toilets with lemon oil for the disinfecting power to make sure that all those nasty germs are gone before I flush everything away. To get rid of the tough hard water build-up, I scrub away with a pumice stone. Yes, the same pumice stone you use on your feet (well, maybe not the SAME one- I do have a dedicated toilet-pumice-stone for hard water deposits). The pumice is harder than the hard water build-up but softer than the toilet bowl, so it doesn’t leave any marks on the toilet surface.

The one store-bought cleaner I haven’t yet replaced is Windex for glass surfaces. I haven’t had the same results with ammonia, and the ammonia is hard on my body. For now, the Windex stays in my cleaning arsenal. I have found that a damp microfiber cloth works pretty well on mirrors without any Windex, so I try to save it for bigger jobs, such as dried doggie drool and nose prints on the back door.

Picture My last non-toxic cleaning product is Miracle II Soap. I use this for surfaces when the lemon oil and water mixture won’t cut it (such as scrubbing down my shower after I’ve used the lemon oil), and I also use this to spot clean carpet and upholstery. A small dish with warm water, a teaspoon of Miracle II Soap and a scrub brush gets rid of dog vomit, spills and helps prevent stains from setting if you can clean it right away. There is no odor from the soap and I’ve been told it’s safe enough to drink straight from the bottle without any ill effects. I haven’t felt any need to test this theory, but considering that my hands don’t turn red or blotchy after exposure to it (in fact, my hands actually feel softer after use), I’m sold. I use a clean, damp cloth to soak up any excess soap on fabric, and when everything is dry, there isn’t any sticky or crunchy feeling to the fabric. The Miracle Soap company makes a variety of products, but I’ve found this one to be sufficient for most cleaning needs.

My next switch will be our laundry and dish detergent. I had gone to a natural dish soap several weeks ago, then switched back to Palmolive for a comparison. There really isn’t any comparison. The Seventh Generation dish soap cleans better (cuts through grease more quickly and doesn’t require as much scrubbing for pots and pans) and is easier on hands. Ironic, isn’t it? I have a few things pinned on Pinterest that I’m looking forward to trying as an alternative to synthetic laundry detergent. Given that  Proctor and Gamble has admitted that their synthetic laundry detergent, Tide, is known to have carcinogens included in it, I feel it’s likely that other synthetic detergents are probably the same. I feel that if you have to say that, “the levels of 1,4 dioxane found in [its] products are well below currently accepted safety standards,” there IS reason for concern. It seems that nobody really knows what a “safe” level of exposure to a known carcinogen really is. What is a “safe” level of exposure to the antibiotics and hormones that are pumped into our livestock and fowl before it hits our supermarkets? How many cigarettes can you smoke before you develop cancer? Where is that line? The bottom line is that we just don’t know. There are too many variables in our lives anymore; we are constantly exposed to carcinogens and potential carcinogens. For my household, making some simple and cost-effective switches just makes sense.

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