Why Clean Your Home “Naturally”?

We all have our own way of doing things.  Each of us knows how we like things done, in what order we like to have them done and what we use for tools to get a certain job done.  Of course this doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone else, only for you.  We all decide things such as this every day, either at work or home.  Since most of what we do on a daily basis is done out of habit, we tend not to think much about it… we just do it how we’ve always done it.

Recently, I started cleaning my home differently than how I used to, as well as using different products than I used before.  The products I used to buy have become a thing of the past.  I didn’t throw them away as some people might (and I probably should have), but I used them until they were gone and then have made the decision to not purchase them again.  At this point in my journey to green, I’m experimenting with different “homemade recipes” for household cleaning products such as laundry soap, glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, etc.  I’m looking into alternatives for bleach, dish soap and many other products.  It’s a learning process, but since I became aware of the number of chemicals that I come into contact with through products used to clean my home and myself, my thinking has changed dramatically.  If this post does anything, I hope it will educate you about some products you’re using and it just might make you think twice before buying and/or using those products.

Here are some startling facts that you may not know about “chemicals” that we use in our homes:

  • Plants that manufacture household cleaning and yard products require that their workers wear protective masks, gloves and clothing… but what do you wear when you use those same products?
  • Only 1% of toxins are required to be listed on labels because companies classify their chemicals as trade secrets.
  • Women who stay at home have a 54% higher rate of cancer than those that work outside the home, due to the direct result of higher exposure rates to toxic chemicals in common household products.
  • According to the National Research Council, no toxic information is available for more than 80% of the chemicals in everyday-use products.  (Source of above statistics)
If the stats listed above interested you, please read the website found on the site listed as “source” – I think you’ll find a few more that are quite surprising.  I realize that they also keep offering to sell some products which I didn’t buy, but their information is correct and informative in nature.

If you want to take control of what you’re using to clean with, as well as what you’re exposing yourself and your family to, it all starts with a little research.  If you have white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice in your pantry, you’ve got a good start if you want to make the “natural cleaning switch”.  There are other things you’ll find helpful to have on hand if you decide to take the natural cleaning route.  I can tell you what I’ve started with, but as with anything, you’ll find what you like to use by trial and error.

So far I have stopped buying laundry soap, fabric softener, stain spray, chlorine bleach, comet & ajax cleanser, window cleaner, copper cleaner, bathroom cleaner, disinfectant spray, tub & tile cleaner, soap scum remover, de-greaser, air fresheners and I’m sure a few others that I can’t think of at the moment.  What have I bought in order to replace the items listed?  I’ve purchased Washing Soda, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Fels Naptha and Zote soap, Lemon Juice, Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol.  I would like to purchase some liquid castile soap and essential oils, but living in a remote area, I can’t find these things locally (yet) and detest buying things online.  I will call a store and see if they’ll order what I need and that will solve that problem.  Well, so far I can proudly say that the list of what I have to buy for cleaning now is much shorter, much cheaper and best of all it’s healthier for me, my family and the environment!

If you would like to try your hand at making the switch, I can start you off with a few links.  There are so many great links out there that I hate to just list a few, so please look around (blogs and Pinterest are full of such “recipes, but please see my *hint* below).  I’ve found so many people out there who have made this journey before me and they’ve made my trip much easier!

*Hint:  When looking at recipes for homemade household/personal cleaners, please look at and think about the ingredients they list.  For instance, if they tell you to add “that de-greasing blue dish soap” as an ingredient – it’s not natural – you’re only adding chemicals to your product(s).*

Here are just a few links from my bookmarks to get you started:

All-Purpose Cleaner with printable labels included

Homemade Dish Soap (more than one recipe listed)

Battle of the Homemade Glass Cleaners (interesting post)

Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide – lots of hints for it’s use

DIY Glass/Stainless Steel Cleaner – more “recipes” in sidebar

Lemon Juice/Bleach Alternative – for cleaning purposes

There are way too many out there to list them all, but that will at least get you started.  The reason I didn’t list any links for laundry soap and fabric softener recipes is that I am working on a post about that subject, separate from this post.

I’d love to hear any feedback/comments you have on the subject of cleaning naturally.  Coming up here at MaineGreenGirl, I’ll be posting about my experience with making homemade laundry soap and fabric softener.   I’ll include hints and tips that I read about before I made it, as well as things I learned from it that I’ll do differently next time.  I realize this was a long post, I appreciate you staying with me this far!  

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16 Responses to Why Clean Your Home “Naturally”?

  1. I just found the CDC is alarmed by Tide pods and the number of calls to poison control regarding them. You have provided some interesting links here, thanks. I’m pretty lazy about what I make, so only certain things like dish soap do I make. For general cleaning purposes it’s just handy baking soda and vinegar that I use. What can be easier than that?

    • Yes, I heard about the Tide pods, too – how scary to think that 500 children were sick from them just in one 30 day time period! Of course, I’m sure that statistic is low, since not all are going to be reported, but still.

      I haven’t “made” a lot yet, so far only window cleaner and laundry soap. I do have a story to tell about that and the “fabric softener” recipes out there, but I’ll be posting that so I don’t want to give too much away on that subject, ha ha. I think like you do, if you have baking soda and vinegar, you’ve got almost all you’re going to need. I’ve added a few others, but I think I could get by without them. I’m going by the “trial and error” method, lol! I guess my way of thinking (and yours too, from what you’ve written) is that it isn’t hard to “go natural”, it’s way easier than buying all those products.

      Thanks for visiting!

      • It’s one step at a time thing when switching. At first I used the products I’d already bought, then when I realized how much easier and cheaper it was, and I didn’t want to be adding those chemicals to my home or the environment, I gave what was left to people who were going to use them anyway rather than toss them out. Can’t wait to hear about your fabric softener.

        • I know what you mean. I really don’t want to use the products, but I hate to give them away for the same reason. It’s actually unlawful to throw away containers with product still in them (I just read about this the other day) since they are considered “environmental hazards” – as if that wouldn’t tell us all we need to know, right?

          • I hadn’t heard that but it makes sense to me. Now when is the rest of the world (and companies making these products) going to think through to the beginning of the product’s life to see just where the environmental hazards start

          • Lois, I wish I had bookmarked it and I didn’t… I’ve searched and searched but can’t find the exact thing I’m looking for about “hazardous household waste” – which is what most cleaners are considered because of their ingredients. Many towns have a “hazardous waste clean-up day” where people can take things in and they’ll dispose of them properly. Many people think it’s just for paint and such, but it does include most household cleaners, due to the toxicity of them, as well as they are harmful to waterways, etc.

          • You are right, I came across something about that recently. Then there’s the CFL bulbs, batteries, and all the fluids for cars. When you think about it, our homes and garages/sheds are full of some really nasty stuff, unless of course you’ve already switched to the things we have been talking about.

  2. runtspickins says:

    I am interested in the liquid laundry soap. I just don’t like powder soap for some reason. I’ll be looking for the post! =]

    • Well, I just finished the post about the laundry soap (finally). I’ve never tried homemade powdered soap, so I can’t say how it would work, but I know the stuff I made works great! I guess my niece made a powdered homemade soap, but she said she switched back to the store-bought brands. My mother told me she thought it was because she was used to the smell of what she was used to buying.

      • runtspickins says:

        Maybe I don’t know how to use powdered soap because whenever I used it in the laundry, I found little powder stuff stuck to all of my clothes! Plus, laundry is another one of those things that I’ve tried and tried and finally found one that I like. I will definitely check out your recipe though!! How long have you been using it?

  3. Noon says:

    Love your site and i would like a comment on the use of borax. I know in the U.S its considerd safe, in many other parts of the world it is not.

    Being dutch i’d like to ad some info you would find on it over here: INCI: Sodium borate.
    Borax moet volgens de huidige wetgeving worden beschouwd als een giftige stof. Er zijn de volgende risicozinnen en veiligheidszinnen van toepassing: R60 Kan de vruchtbaarheid schaden
    R61 Kan het ongeboren kind schaden
    S1/2 Achter slot en buiten bereik van kinderen bewaren
    S45 Ingeval van ongeval of indien met zich onwel voelt, onmiddellijk een arts raadplegen (indien mogelijk hem dit etiket tonen)
    S53 Blootstelling vermijden, voor gebruik speciale aanwijzing raadplegen Wij raden gebruik van borax in cosmetica af.
    For english just go to any translate site and set for dutch, you could do any other language in to dutch but english mostly works the best.

    • Hi Noon! Happy to meet you! I’m so glad you like my blog and hope you come back to visit often! Yes, I recently learned that borax is quite toxic, which I didn’t know before. I recently wrote a post about making my own laundry soap and I did use borax in that recipe. In my replies to the comments below that post, I noted that I won’t be using it next time I make the detergent, as I have since learned more about it and its dangers. Thank you for bringing that up though, since I don’t think a lot of people are aware of the serious consequences borax can have.

      For those of you who would like her post translated into English, I have it below.

      Borax, according to the current legislation be considered a toxic substance. There are the following risk phrases and safety phrases apply:
      R60 May impair fertility
      R61 May cause harm to the unborn child
      S1 / 2 Keep locked up and out of reach of children
      S45 In case of accident or if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately (show the label where possible)
      S53 Avoid exposure, obtain special instructions before use We recommend using borax in cosmetics off.

  4. Noon says:

    Thank you so much for your quick respond and for leaving the post up.
    Did you also know that borax is not even neccesary? I pretty much make my laundry soap like you do and wil never go back to the commercial stuff.

    There is a diffrence in one thing, i ad a bit of glycerine and when my big tub is cooled down i work it with a stickblender i use only for soapmaking. This way it pours out easy and stays like that for months. For softner i use my homemade from applescraps vinnegar so that dont cost me a thing and yet my laundry is sooooooo soft and easy to handle with the fresh scent of eeeh, clean laundry! Stains i work with a bar of soap (sunlight) or some peroxide.

    If i have a really yuckie load,( 6 kids ) i ad a scoop (about a bigg tbl of washing soda and a little bit of citric acid( i love the fact you dont by online, i buy mine at a local winemaker to avoid buying online) but cream of tartar with a squirt of lemon i.g lime works just as good.
    An ellement of the acid turns the washingsoda in to oxygen. Letting the soap do a good job cleaning.

    I use my detergent also for my dishes and for my dishwasher with a verry small amount of washingsoda en citric acid. The rinse gets help from good old vinnegar, white that is, i’ll try acv when this runs out.
    My dishes always come out sparkling!

    My recipe contains washingsoda, soap, glycerine and water i dont ad oxygen cause that wears of after being wet.

    Again, LOVE it over here i will be back to visit getting greener one step at the time……


    • Hi Ilona, it’s so nice of you to come back and “visit” with me – I truly enjoy it when I’m conversing with others! 🙂 Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been busy updating my husbands computer, then we got him a new monitor so I got that hooked up to the 10″ netbook he uses, but the screen was too small, hence the new monitor!

      You have shared such useful information – thank you so much! I have a few questions though (remember, I’m new to all this, lol). Where would I buy glycerin? I can’t even find citric acid or castile soap locally, no one seems to carry either item. Actually, the citric acid is something that I don’t even know what it is I’m looking for, but I would assume it must come in a bottle or jar… Hmmm. I just don’t know what area of a store, or which kind of store for that matter that I could try.

      When you talk of your dish soap, is that for hand-washing or for a dishwasher? I only hand-wash and am very interested in being able to make my own, something I am happy with.

      I’m very curious about something else, if you don’t mind me asking… what is “apple scrap vinegar” and how do you make it? I would guess that you must have your own apple trees very close to where you live. I wish I did. I mean, there are apple trees in the area, but I don’t drive anymore so I can’t get to them. Ten or so years ago, I used to go for a drive when the apples were ripe and pick them to make applesauce, canned apples for pies, etc. I miss those days!

      By the way, my next post is a recipe (another bread recipe). I didn’t mean for it to be so long in between new posts, but life kind of got in the way.
      You have 6 kids? Husband and I raised 8. He had 5 and I had 3 when we married.

      Hope to see you back soon! Do you have a blog?

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