Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Cleaning Without Chemicals: 5 Simple Steps

I'll be the first to admit that my house needs some major spring cleaning! Ever since the birth of our second child in November 2011, starting a business in May of 2012, and an ongoing remodeling project this entire year, my house needs help. I know we are all happier when everything is clean and organized, even though I'm not one to fuss over dust bunnies when my family and income-generating work are a priority.

For many moms I know, they simply do not know where to start when it comes to healthier cleaning that doesn't expose your family to highly toxic chemicals. Everything from asthma to cancer, ADHD, and of course - poisoning, are all linked to chemical cleaning products. Do you want to create a healthier home for your family? Here is how you can do it this spring!

  1. Let them go! There is no way around it. Toxic chemicals do not belong inside your home, or anywhere for that matter. Every time you clean with that bottle of colored blue, green, or yellow liquid, carcinogenic toxins are released into the air and travel to the lungs of your kids and pets. They remain on surfaces as well for weeks, touched and licked by your infant, toddler. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it is harmless. Unfortunately the market of cleaning products has little to no safety standards. The best thing you can do for your family's health is to toss it all in the trash. Their health is worth much more than the $50 you'll toss, agree? Be aware of any 'greenwashing' by brands that still contain harmful toxins but market themselves as 'green'.

  2. Air it out! The myriad of materials in our homes are constantly releasing gasses into the air, some toxic, some not. There is formaldehyde in household products, toxins in paint, carpets, flooring, etc. The best thing you can do is to open windows every day once the weather gets warmer. The air outside is always cleaner that inside your home, even if you live in the city. Opening the windows is the best way to clean your indoor air.

  3. Simplify your cleaning arsenal (and save money): You really don't need brand name cleaning concoctions in bottles, you just don't. The best thing you can do is stick to edible cleaning supplies! Think vinegar, baking soda, lemons and lemon peel, and essential oils. You can browse Pinterest for inspiration and DIY cleaning recipes. I used to spend about $30 a month on toxic cleaning supplies, now I spend about $30 every six months! A little goes a long, long way.

  4. Small splurges on trusted brands: If you really want the convenience of pre-packaged products, I would recommend Better Life. We are huge fans and regularly use their products. The ingredients are superb and they clean like no other, they just work. You may also check out the EWG cleaning product guide for the low down on all the safest cleaning products. You can check the toxicity of what you have before tossing something in the trash.

  5. Purge: Sometimes what our house needs the most is the release of everything we've accumulated that doesn't serve a purpose. I'm not good at this, but I'm working on it! It takes a change of mind set. For some inspiration I read about the minimalists who own only 100 things. I read about people in far off lands that barely own anything. Children in third world countries that may have one or two toys. I realize we really don't need much and it inspires to simplify and focus on what's important. Dump, donate, sell, bless someone else. It all works. I've donated huge amounts of stuff through the Epilepsy Foundation, Big Brother Big Sister (both pick up at your door), and sold/donated many things on Craigslist. Our place is small and I know we don't need a bigger one, we just need to get rid of more things. I wish I could just have a day to myself without the kids to tackle this head on!

Keep in mind that children need exposure to natural bacteria and germs around them. Are we setting up their immune system for failure by creating spotless homes treated with chemicals? Let's focus on clean, but not sanitized. Your house isn't a hospital and you don't want a breeding ground for super bugs. 

What are your best healthy cleaning tips?

*Use common sense! Even when using natural cleaning products with low toxicity, keep them out of reach of children!

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  1. I don't remember if i ever spend $30 a month even on toxic cleaning supplies, i must be too lazy to clean that way =)
    I always have baking soda, and vinegar on hand. I have a microfiber cloth that doesn't require anything to clean windows and mirrors, besides just water. I use little soap to wash floors. So yeah who needs expansive cleaning supplies.

    1. Exactly! You really don't need much! I am not much of a cleaner, I kind of wing it since as you know - cleaning with kids is like shoveling snow while it is still snowing! :)


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