Baby Steps: Going More Natural, One Cleaner at a Time

Just a reminder– If you haven’t done it yet, make sure that you visit last week’s recipe carnival to find some inspiration for completing the last Baby Step!

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So far in this Baby Steps series, we’ve talked a bit about toiletries (toothpaste), food preparation (using dry beans), and cooking nutritious food (making a list of healthy, convenient meals)… now it’s time to try a different area.

You’ll notice that I’m going to float around from topic to topic in this series, because I am trying not to wear you out or overwhelm you in any one area. That would defeat the purpose (which is to give you encouragement as you put into practice small, manageable steps towards healthier and more natural living).

And may I just say that to all of you who have been with me so far and have been implementing or working towards these baby steps, you’re all amazing! Each of these steps may not seem like a big deal in and of itself, but with every little change you make, you are further and further down the road to more natural living, less toxins in your home and on your body, better nutrition… doesn’t it feel good???

This week’s baby step is: To choose one household cleaner that you can replace with a less toxic and more environmentally friendly option.

Why this step is important:

To quote from an earlier post of mine on Natural Household Cleaners:

-They’re full of toxic chemicals (why else would they be harmful to drink, breathe in the fumes of, touch, etc.?)

-They can have harmful effects on our bodies, anything from a mild
rash, hives, breathing difficulties, headaches, to more moderate
effects, such as severe burns, to long term effects, such as being
carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or causing hormone disruption

– They can combine with other chemicals in another cleaning product to make even more dangerous fumes and toxins

– Some chemicals threaten water quality, fish and other wildlife

-Many are petroleum based, which further depletes our natural resources

-Most contain dyes and/or perfumes, both of which can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation

How to get started with it:

Below, I’m going to give you a list of links to posts on what different bloggers use for their natural cleaning, as well as the simple cleaners that some of them make. I will also leave links to a few sites for particular brands of more natural cleaners that I know of and/or like to use, and also to some books that discuss more on the topic and that have good information on cleaning using simple, non-toxic ingredients (ie. baking soda, lemon juice, etc.).

All that I am suggesting for now is to choose one cleaner that you use regularly (it could be a kitchen or bathroom spray, windex, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, etc.) and find a replacement for it, whether it be a simple homemade recipe or a store-bought, “greener” cleaner.

Once you have done this and feel comfortable using your new product, you could then try to expand and find alternatives for other cleaners as well. If you are already using some natural products, try replacing any of the remaining items that you haven’t gotten to yet (stain removers, air fresheners, laundry softener, etc.) or try making your own cheaper homemade version of a store-bought cleaner!

Online Resources:

Housecleaning on a budget, Part 1 and Part 2– From Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, both posts have simple ideas and recipes for making homemade cleaners

Natural alternatives for household productcs–  Also from Lindsay, some of the natural and frugal products she is currently using.

Tammy’s Homemade Scouring Powder- I make this powder and it works great!

Natural Household Cleaners Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3– My own series on choosing non-toxic cleaners, the cleaners that I prefer, where I get them, etc.

Clean and Green- An excellent compilation of natural cleaning supplies, their uses, and recipes or directions for cleaning practically anything (hat tip to Lindsay for finding this site)!

And here are a few brands of natural cleaners– there are many more out there, but this might get you started:

Biokleen– One of the brands that I use the most (I buy mine from Azure, for very reasonable prices)

LifeTree– Another one that I use sometimes

Seventh Generation– A bit pricey, but these seem to be widely available

Country Save– I’ve used and liked their laundry detergent

Shaklee- I haven’t used these myself, but I know many people swear by them!

Reading Resources:

Here are a few good books I know of, if you’d prefer to have a good resource to read and keep in your home.

Personally, I have the first one and the last two (though a couple others are on my list of books I want to buy!), but I’ve heard good reviews of the others.

Does anyone have any other great resources to pass on for this baby step? And as always, I would love to hear about your baby step victories!

(Image from allposters.com)

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  1. Hiya!
    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and LOVE it! been trying various things you suggest – even got in touch with a lady who is sending me some kefir grains (my husband thinks I’m crazy!) Anyway – just wondering if you’d heard of Enjo products – they’re a cleaning cloth system which means you don’t need to use any kind of cleaning fluid. have a look at their website – http://www.enjo.net/nojs.asp?sprache=en&land=us
    I personally don’t use them (yet) – haven’t got round to buying any – but a family I work for does, and they seem to be very effective.

  2. Thanks for mentioning Shaklee. If any of your readers would like to be connected to a Shaklee Distributor who would make some recommendations, feel free to send them to my site. I’ve used these products for over 40 years!

    Also I have a website if anyone wants to enter to win a free $20.00 value H2 kit, the one Oprah loves. Go to http://www.biggreengiveaway.com and Good Luck!


  3. If you are in need of further reading and green cleaning advocacy I’d love for you to check out my blog: Best of Mother Earth. One post in particular compares green clean pricing. You’d be amazed. I was like you 20 years ago taking baby steps! My kids are 20 and 17 now!

  4. Great post! It took a little while, but I think I’ve completely transitioned to green cleaning products. A couple of extra tips I’ve come across along the way are 1) using hydrogen peroxide to replace bleach for cleaning and laundry purposes, 2) if you don’t want to make your own, use Bon Ami as a scouring powder or stainless steel pot cleaner, and 3) supposedly, fragrance-free Oxy Clean is quite environmentally and people friendly. I’ve been amazed at what Oxy Clean will remove when nothing else works. The only problem I run into is that it’s very easy to inhale because of the small particle size. Thus, I always hold my breath when I open the container and scoop some out. Do you know anything that would counterindicate using Oxy Clean, Stephanie?

    Oh, and one more tip: Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps clean just about everything. I use a little squirt in water to mop the floor, wash the car, clean the toilet bowl, etc. I wrote a post on it recently at my blog, found under the category “Green Living.”

    I look forward to checking out all those links you posted. Thanks!

  5. Honestly, I don’t use many cleaning products. I use a natural all purpose cleaner (Nature clean), lots of vinegar, and baking soda. Also I sometimes use a natural disinfectant (also nature clean) the odd occasion when I need to (like when toddler poop gets on something…)

    Oh and I guess we also use a natural dish soap. I use Ecover. I haven’t found other brands to last as long nor be as good. Its a bit more pricey but I get it at a co-op and it lasts longer than the cheaper brands so it works out to be cheaper in the end.

    I don’t think its necessary to have individual cleaners for everything, I think its just a marketing thing to have one for cleaning glass, another for toilets, another for floors, etc.

    I’ve been using only natural cleaning products for about 6 years now.

  6. Stephanie,

    Thanks for the encouragement in this area. I decided when we moved (which was 2 weeks ago) to get rid of almost all my toxic cleaners. I’m saving this post so I can refer back.

    I planned to use something in place of Ajax/Comet for sinks/tubs, but wasn’t sure I’d get good results. Is that what you use the homemade scouring powder for?

  7. I use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant,
    vinegar for all-purpose cleaning,
    vinegar and baking soda for the tough stuff,
    vinegar as a rinse agent in the dishwasher and as a softener in the laundry wash,
    (so I use vinegar a lot!)
    when I run out of my seventh generation laundry detergent, I’m gonna try and make my own. I also need to make up some window cleaner.

    It’s really so much cheaper to make it all at home!

  8. It really is smart to make your own cleaning products whenever possible. Not only are they cheaper, but because they are safe, the kids can help clean!

    A book I like and use often is:

    The Naturally Clean Home: 100 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Non-Toxic Cleansers
    by Karyn Siegel-Maier

    Most of the recipes are very simple and take minutes to make (if that).

  9. I just blogged about that here. It is not quite as detailed as your’s though. I really enjoy your blog. I do use Shaklee products and I really like them, but once I run out I will probably make my own cleaners.

  10. Baking soda is my favorite household cleaning product. It is cheap, non-toxic and oh-so-useful! I use it for so many things: from scouring the oven and stove, pans with burnt on food, and the shower floor to using it to wash our hair instead of shampoo.
    I have also had great success with making my own laundry detergent using three simple ingredients: borax, washing soda, and a vegetable-based bar soap.

  11. I use biokleen dishsoap and love it. I am planning on doing a post soon on some of the very simple things I use in my kitchen that I make that are non toxic. They are really so easy to make and use. And soooo much cheaper. Great intro post to why we should care. 🙂

  12. Great post and resources. Thanks again for the encouragement to just try one thing at a time. As I was looking throught the links I started to get overwhelmed and then I stopped myself. One thing at a time. I am going to try Tammy’s scouring powder.

  13. My first baby step (in the area of household cleaners) was to make an all-purpose cleaning solution with vinegar, baking soda and water. It worked great for cleaning surfaces in the kitchen! But it wasn’t so great on our laminate floor – when I walked into the kitchen in my bare feet it felt like the floor was covered with a dusting of baking soda.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for laminate floors? I would favor something that wouldn’t require a second mopping to rinse the floor.

  14. Great post! I’ve blogged about this before, but I personally use mostly vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. 😀

  15. I just ran across this post and am very inspired. I’m also very interested in the books you recommend as often books are more convenient than online resources for me. But for some reason I’m not seeing the list you mention. Maybe it needed to be removed? If you are able, I would love some good book recommendations.

  16. Which Biokleen did you put in your prelaundry spray bottle? There are at least 3 different laundry liquids listed. Thanks for you site, my nieces mentioned it on Facebook today and I am on it for the first time. I’m glad you are researching this good information and putting it on this site so we don’t have to (spend the time researching.) I will be doing alot of changing thanks to you..

  17. Which Biokleen did you put in your prelaundry spray bottle? There are at least 3 different laundry liquids listed. Thanks for you site, my nieces mentioned it on Facebook today and I am on it for the first time. I’m glad you are researching this good information and putting it on this site so we don’t have to (spend the time researching.) I will be doing alot of changing thanks to you..

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