My Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Hack
Cleaning your home is no fun. And it becomes even less enjoyable when what you’re cleaning with is full of toxic chemicals that can potentially harm your health.
When I started diving into living a less toxic life, switching out my cleaning products was not at the top of my list.
Safer, less toxic cleaning products are expensive. And I much rather wanted to spend my money on fun swaps, like my non-toxic makeup routine.
But, when I started digging into the details about the cleaning products on the market, and how simple it is to make your own safe cleaners, the switch became much easier.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about conventional cleaning products, why you should make the non-toxic switch, and a quick and inexpensive way to clean your home naturally!
The Downsides of Conventional Cleaning Products
The main issue with conventional cleaning products is that the majority of them disclose none of their ingredients.
If you flip over an all-purpose cleaner, dishwasher detergent, or toilet cleaner you’ll be lucky to find a short list of active ingredients, and then likely nothing else.
And companies that do disclose a full ingredient list opt for using vague terms like “preservative,” “colorant,” or “fragrance” over the actual chemical they used to make the product.
These chemicals are allowed to be masked by vague terms under the guise of protecting trade secrets. But, as a consumer, this practice makes it impossible to know if you’re cleaning your home with potentially carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting chemicals.
In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed over 400 cleaning products in 2016. Only about one quarter of these products accurately and adequately disclosed their ingredient information.
Among their findings, the EWG noted that almost three quarters of these cleaning products contained ingredients that can cause respiratory health issues. And one quarter of the products analyzed contained ingredients that are linked to cancer.
Yet none of these ingredients are required to be listed on the product label.
Greenwashing in Cleaning Products
Greenwashing is a term used to describe when a company gives the false impression that their products are more environmentally safe or non-toxic than they actually are.
While greenwashing is seen in all industries, cleaning products are some of the easiest to fall prey to. Mainly because ingredients aren’t listed on the packaging, you have nothing but the company’s word to tell you that their product is actually safe and non-toxic.
One study showed that the words “natural” or “non-toxic” appeared on up to 33% of cleaning products, in absence of actual proof that these products are what they say they are.
There are a few ways you can avoid getting caught in the greenwashing trap.
One is to only purchase cleaning products from companies that disclose all of their ingredient information. You can also use the EWG database of cleaning products to select ones that score favorable in their review.
Or, you can make your own, natural cleaning products! This method ensures that you know exactly what’s going into your cleaning products, and it can save you money over even the conventional, toxic products that you were using before.
What I Use to Clean My Home
Vinegar is my go-to for all things home cleaning.
I know, it has a strong, repulsive smell, but hear me out. (And keep reading to learn my best tip for disguising the smell in my homemade cleaner!)
Acetic acid is the active compound in vinegar that gives it its acidity and its cleaning power.
Because of its high acidity, you can use vinegar to clean almost anything. It can dissolve soap scum, stubborn glue, and even tough mold and mildew spots.
Vinegar is great at leaving windows and mirrors spot and streak-free. And it can even get rid of the most stubborn stains like wine - which are typically slightly acidic, making them easily dissolvable in the presence of acidic vinegar.
For most cleaning applications, vinegar diluted in equal parts water is all the natural cleaning power you’ll need.
There are some surfaces though, like granite and marble, where you don’t want to use vinegar. So, even though this is a great natural cleaning alternative, it won’t work in all situations.
My Homemade Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaner
Now that we’ve looked at why you might want to think twice about using conventional cleaners, and why vinegar is a better alternative, it’s time to share my go-to all-purpose cleaner recipe.
I love using homemade cleaner because, especially compared to the leading non-toxic cleaning options, you can’t beat the cost.
To make about 20 ounces of my homemade cleaning solution, it costs less than $0.50. Yep, that’s it. All you’re paying for is a giant bottle of white vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils, and maybe some castile soap if necessary.
So even compared to the conventional cleaners found in stores, my homemade cleaner can’t be beat in price.
The only potential downfall of this homemade cleaner is the vinegar smell. Which, I understand for some people is a complete turn-off.
I don’t mind the smell of vinegar. And personally, I think smelling vinegar for a few minutes after cleaning is so much better than spending a small fortune on non-toxic cleaners. And it’s certainly better than using conventional products where I have no idea what the ingredients are.
Plus, certain combinations of essential oils (psst, cloves and cinnamon) are amazing at masking the vinegar smell. So before you completely discount using a vinegar cleaner, I suggest that you give it a try.
Here is the recipe I use for my homemade non-toxic all-purpose cleaner:
10 ounces white vinegar
10 ounces water
40 drops of essential oils
optional: 1 Tbsp castile soap (if you need a little extra cleaning power)
Combine the equal parts white vinegar and water into a spray bottle
Add 40 drops of any combination of essential oils you want
Optional: add the castile soap and shake to combine
My favorite essential oil combinations so far have been lemon and lavender, and cloves and cinnamon. The lemon and lavender give a super clean smell, while the cloves and cinnamon smell so much like fall it’s not even funny.
You can either use a plastic spray bottle, or get a glass one. Glass bottles are preferred if you’re using essential oils, as they can cause the plastic bottle to break down over time.
I hope this homemade cleaner helps kickstart you on your journey to non-toxic living. Happy cleaning!
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