Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing with you a new undertaking that I’m really excited about… transitioning to nontoxic cleaning methods!
For a long time now I have hated using smelly commercial cleaning products… but I honestly just didn’t know what else to use! When I became pregnant, I gave up using many cleaning products for fear of exposing the baby to toxins… but since I didn’t have an alternative solution, I wound up handing over a lot of cleaning tasks to Keith. Being the wonderful husband that he is 😀 , Keith was a very good sport about this… but I was pretty sure there had to be a better way. After all, if our cleaning products could be harmful to our baby, they probably wouldn’t be so great for a growing child… and they probably aren’t so great for us either.
So I started doing some research on nontoxic cleaning methods. I quickly found that the internet is filled with information on this topic! Reading other peoples’ ideas, recipes, and articles made me feel hopeful that it would be possible to keep our home satisfactorily clean without using any toxic products. So when we moved to our new house a few weeks ago, I figured that it was time to take the plunge! I made the decision that our cleaning products were not coming with us. After all, a new house is a good place for a fresh start!
Now, before I go on, I need to emphasize that I am a total newbie at all of this! My knowledge of cleaning in general is very limited to start with… and a few months ago I knew nothing whatsoever about nontoxic cleaning. I am totally learning as I go along. But I thought that I would share what we have been doing so far, and hopefully as I continue to learn I can share more in future posts!
The gist of what I gathered from my initial research was this…
You can clean most things in your home using one or more of the following 4 ingredients that most people already have!
- Baking Soda
Of course, there are plenty of other natural nontoxic ingredients that can be useful as well. Many recipes call for small amounts of essential oils, either for scent or disinfectant properties. I’ve also seen recipes that call for borax, lemon juice, washing soda, and other products. However, I decided that for now I would keep things as simple as possible and just stick to the basics.
For that reason, gathering my materials was really easy! I stocked my cleaning cabinet with a big jug of Distilled White Vinegar and a container of Baking Soda. I also bought a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap from Rite Aid (in the bath products aisle). [I think regular dish soap is probably fine for most cleaning tasks, but many sources recommend simple Castile soap for a more natural option.]
In addition to these three ingredients, I stocked my cabinet with a few empty spray bottles from Wal-Mart, plastic containers for soapy water, sponges with a scrubby back, and plenty of cleaning rags. And that was pretty much it!
Now I’ll share the four cleaning methods that I have tried so far…
1 Part Vinegar + 1 Part Water
The first “recipe” that I tried involved filling a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water and shaking it up. Pretty simple 🙂 . I’ve been using this as my all-purpose cleaning spray. I’m mostly going with the “try it and see what happens” method… and so far this mixture has worked well on most surfaces! It’s been particularly useful for cleaning appliances, countertops, sinks, inside the refrigerator, and mirrors. However, I have read that vinegar can damage granite/marble, as well as unsealed grout between tiles. So I’ve been wary about using this solution on tile surfaces (even though I have no clue right now whether our grout is sealed or not or what that actually means) and on our bathroom countertop which might possibly be granite (although I’m not sure about that either 😉 ).
Castile Soap + Warm Water
This one is so basic that it doesn’t really need an explanation, but I’ll give you one anyway 🙂 . Basically my motto has been – when in doubt, use soap and water! If I’m worried about whether my water/vinegar solution might damage a surface, I will often just use warm soapy water and a rag or sponge. It usually works just fine!
Plain Old Vinegar
Apparently vinegar has disinfectant properties that kill most germs/bacteria. It is not quite strong enough to be registered as a disinfectant, but from what I can gather, it is still pretty effective. Since I am generally more phobic of chemicals than I am of germs, I’ve decided that, in most instances, vinegar is probably good enough for me. So I filled another spray bottle with straight vinegar and I have been using this on surfaces that need regular disinfecting, especially in the bathroom.
Vinegar + Baking Soda
This is my favorite method so far because it’s like a little science experiment! When you combine vinegar and baking soda, they fizz… which just makes cleaning more fun 🙂 . But actually if you do some reading online, you will see that combining vinegar and baking soda for cleaning purposes is a bit of a controversial topic. Some people swear by it… and other people laugh at them because apparently the chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar just creates salt water? And I imagine they are probably right about this because why would they say it otherwise… but from my limited experience I have to tell you that it works anyway!
This is what worked for us…
- Sprinkle some baking soda on a patch of tough residue (we have used it on the stovetop and also in the tub)
- Spray some vinegar on top of the baking soda
- The mixture will fizz…
- Use the scrubby side of a sponge to remove the residue
The first time we tried this was actually when we were still in the apartment. There had been brown stains at the bottom of our tub since before we moved in and no matter how much bleach we used, they would not come off. Keith tried cleaning the tub with baking soda, vinegar, a scrubby sponge, and a ton of elbow grease… and when he was done the tub was totally white! So anyway, when it comes to baking soda and vinegar, I’m a believer 🙂 .
The four methods that I described above have been so useful to us in cleaning our new house (which wasn’t so clean when we got here!). I’m definitely still working on finding better ways of dealing with certain types of messes and surfaces. But if anyone else is looking to quickly and easily swap out some of their cleaning products for nontoxic alternatives… the four ingredients and the four methods that I described in this post have been a great starting point for us!
Here are just a few of the online resources have been helpful to me so far…
And probably the easiest way to figure out how to clean something is to just google “nontoxic cleaning [whatever you want to clean]”… There really is so much information out there!
Well that’s all for now – Happy cleaning! 🙂