Many years ago, when I started to have pain and fatigue throughout my body, it occurred to me that I may be overloaded with too many toxic chemicals. I immediately took inventory of my household cleaners. I could not believe the variety of them I had and how strong the fumes were.
I also was very active in dog rescue at the time as a transporter. I was very concerned about keeping my car clean so I heavily relied on chlorine bleach. I didn’t realize just how bad this strong bleach was on my skin even though I used VERY strong gloves. I worked outside and the wind would blow it back onto me. I also didn’t know how bad it was to inhale it. We fostered one dog and I had to use the chlorine bleach for her blankets from time-to-time. I would use the strong gloves but would bleach them by hand rather than the washing machine.
I no longer work in dog rescue transport and no longer use chlorine bleach.
So, I began looking for non-toxic cleaners for our home.
Here are 12 non-toxic cleaners I reach for these days. I’ll also give a brief explanation about some of the ways I use them.
1) Baking Soda
It is mildly abrasive but gentle enough to brush your teeth. It soaks up grease, is a natural de-ordorizer for closets, refrigerators and cleans and de-odorizes carpets when sprinkled on, left there for a time and then vacuumed. It’s important for you to know that not all baking sodas are alike. Check out our article, “Not All Baking Sodas are Alike” to understand the differences. The most popular brand, Arm & Hammer is chemically derived and the brand, Bob’s Red Mill is naturally mined from the ground.
I use Arm & Hammer brand for general household cleaning but for brushing my teeth or anything to do with cleansing my body, I use Bob’s Red Mill brand.”
For carpets, I use Arm & Hammer brand and leave it on for at least 20 minutes but usually overnight. It is great for cleaning greasy pans and dishes. I keep some in a glass container with shake top on the window sill in the kitchen.
I keep Bob’s Red Mill brand in a glass container with shake top on the master bathroom counter for brushing my teeth and add it to water to rinse my mouth in the morning and at night before I go to bed. I printed out the word, “Baking Soda” on paper, cut it out and taped over it with packing tape for each of these shake top containers.
I get Arm & Hammer baking soda in a large, 13.5 pound, re-sealable bag at Costco. The back of the bag lists more uses than I have here. If you don’t have a Costco membership, it is available in this large bag through Amazon.com.
I also buy the smaller box-sized, 16 ounce, for putting whole, opened boxes in the refrigerator or closets for de-odorizing. These 16 ounce boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda can be found in many different grocery stores. Target also carries it.
You can get the Bob’s Red Mill brand baking soda at Whole Foods Market but if you would like the convenience of ordering it online, you can order it directly from Bob’s Red Mill or it is available here at Amazon.com.
2) White Vinegar
This is the clear white vinegar — not apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is sticky when sprayed on surfaces. I use apple cider vinegar with the mother veil — it better for the stomach with the mother veil included — for eating. Unfortunately, can bother my stomach so I’ve eliminated eating it for now. I never eat the clear, white vinegar as it is not good for my stomach. I only use it for cleaning. It smells bad and strong on surfaces at first but it is actually a good deodorizer after it has dried.
It destroys scent trails from ants so they will stop tracking to areas you don’t want them if you clean the surfaces with white vinegar.
I get the large 1.32 gallon, 5% acidity, from Costco. The brand for the vinegar is “Heinz.” I measure it out (usually either 1/2 cup or 1 cup) when I want to sanitize a load of laundry. If you do not have a Costco account or cannot find it in any of the stores near you, Amazon.com carries it.
For other cleaning purposes, I put some in a small spray bottle from Sally’s Beauty Supply. I get different colored tops for the spray bottles and then make sure each bottle is labeled with a piece of masking tape so I don’t get any of the liquids confused because I fill these spray bottles with different liquids.
3) Hydrogen Peroxide
If it does not state that it is “food-grade” then it is best to use only externally. I don’t gargle with this. (See the next item on this list to understand more about “food-grade” peroxide.)
It is a mild disinfectant. It can act as a very gentle bleach. I use it to spray on my Okabashi shoes that I have in the shower. They are thongs that are easy to wash. I only use for cleaning purposes because it is not food grade. It’s easy to find the Hydrogen Peroxide in the pharmacy section of many stores.
All of the 3% hydrogen peroxides for external use that I’ve found are in dark containers that light does not penetrate. DO NOT leave any hydrogen peroxide out in the light for any length of time because it will be useless and none of the cleansing properties will work.
4) Food-grade Hydrogen Peroxide
I buy it in a highly concentrated form (35%) and dilute it down to 3% with distilled water. I gargle with the diluted food-grade peroxide (diluted with water, please read the instructions carefully on the bottle you get) and use it to clean small skin abrasions like cuts or small wounds. I also use it to disinfect my toothbrush on occasions and to wipe down my refrigerator shelves. I’ve also used it to clean off fruits and vegetables that have a skin like grapefruits and tomatoes although most often I clean my fruits and vegetables with Miracle Soap since it’s right on my kitchen sink for washing dishes and is safe and gentle enough for food.
I buy mine from Rockwall Colonics, in Rockwall, Texas. I’ve called around to other specialty stores and have found that they also carry it.
Any hydrogen peroxide MUST be kept out of light and sun-light or it will become useless. So, be sure to wrap it up with paper and put it in a paper bag if it is not in a container that is so dark that light cannot penetrate. I wrap my bottle with paper, put it in a paper bag and then a plastic bag. I write “Poison” on each one of the bags and container and store it in the back corner of a shelf in my refrigerator so that it is NEVER confused with drinking water. I do not use this full strength. I ALWAYS dilute it so it is not consider dangerous at the 3% state. This strong, 35% must be kept out of reach of children or pets as it is very harmful ingested or on the skin or eyes yet looks just like water. It is still considered a non-toxic cleaner at the 3% dilution.
You must NOT use it full strength in your mouth or on your skin. It must be diluted to 3%. The ratio for diluting it is 11 ounces of water to 1 ounce of hydrogen peroxide. It will give you the correct ratio for mixing on the bottle. I keep another bottle that is diluted to 3% in the refrigerator as well. It is wrapped in paper to keep it fresh, too.
5) Non-Chlorine Bleach (hydrogen peroxide, 7%)
I’ve used two different brands and like both of them. I’ve used “Ecover Bleach” (chlorine-free) and “Seventh Generation Bleach Free and Clear (chlorine-free).” Both are hydrogen peroxide based. I wear Okabashi shoes and thongs that are easily washable and bleach (non-chlorine) them down each night to help keep my toes and feet fungus free. It can be used in the laundry and will whiten whites and says it will not fade colors like chlorine bleach will although I have not tried this with anything but whites in the laundry so I cannot attest to this keeping colored items from fading.
The “Seventh Generation Bleach – Free and Clear” has to be bought in quantity on Amazon.com and it is not cost effective at this time. It is better to buy it at Wholefoods or for you to go ahead and buy the “Ecover” brand on Amazon.com if you do not have access to a Wholefoods or specialty health store in your area that carries it.
I use this to disinfect surfaces. It’s a little more than twice as strong as the hydrogen peroxide you buy at the drugstore. I’ve called the companies and it is 7% strength hydrogen peroxide.
It’s also important to keep this out of the light and to use gloves when handling it. Keep it out of reach from children and pets, too. It looks like water but it is a strong hydrogen peroxide. It is non-toxic for cleaning purposes.
6) 20 Mule Team Borax
The packaging has changed so it was a little hard to find at first, but Target carries it. This kills fungus. I use it on concrete where I see any mold because concrete is porous and this will kill fungus on porous surfaces and it will also act as a retardant for fungus growth. It will help keep fungus from growing back as quickly on a surface. We are considering using on the floor of a shower stall that sometimes has some mold build up. We want to clean it up and keep it from coming back.
There are more uses listed on the box. I think I could probably use this for more things that I do at the moment and will go through this list on the box to give me more ideas. It is available in the cleaning aisles at Target and possibly your neighborhood grocery store. I am going to make the link to Amazon.com available in case you would rather order it through them.
I used to use it in the laundry but I noticed my skin was being irritated by it. Perhaps an extra rinse would work for you. I’ve stopped using for laundry a the moment.
7) 200 Proof, Wood Grain Alcohol (Vodka)
I feel like a “lush” going into liquor stores to buy this and when I explain I use it to clean with, I get remarks like, “What a waste of good Vodka!”
This kills many things. I use it most to clean up the cat hair balls and throw up. It kills parasites. It also pulls out the stain as I am cleaning it up although you might want to do a “test” spot on your carpet to make sure it doesn’t pull up the color from your carpet. I don’t have to use a lot so it can last a long time. The brand “Everclear” is 190 proof and this is close enough. It can be found in just about every liquor store I visit. If I can find a cheaper brand that is 190 proof or above, I’ll get it instead. I’ve got two cats so I don’t get the small bottle.
Be careful. At this proof it is VERY flammable. Keep it away from any heat. Be sure to WEAR GLOVES when you use it as it will absorb through your skin. It can actually make you drunk with too much absorption.
8) Bon Ami
This is a medium abrasive powder that I use instead of Comet for sinks, basins, counter tops, tubs, toilet bowls and shower stalls. It is great for getting off any stains from my kitchen counter tops and is “go-to” cleaner for keeping my kitchen sink shining. Wholefoods carries it. Sometimes I find it available in grocery stores — but not all of the time. Most often they carry Comet which has chemicals that irritate my lungs.
I have three containers of Bon Ami throughout the house — one in the cabinet under the kitchen sink and one in the cabinets under each of our two bathroom sinks. I use it in the bathrooms for counters, tub, shower stalls and for cleaning out the toilet bowls.
It may be easier to find a store nearby to buy it from but it is also carried on Amazon.com.
9) Grape Seed Extract ( by Nutribiotic)
You add 10 drops to 1 cup of water to use it to disinfect. Wholefoods carries it in their vitamin shop section because you can also use it as a supplement to de-tox. It is part of the Wholeapproach.com anti-fungal program so you can order it directly from them at this page if it is easier for you.
It is a great household cleaner but it leaves a sticky residue. You will always have to do a rinse after using it. It has no scent and has VERY many household uses.
They used to list many uses on their packaging but a law was passed that does not allow them to do this any longer. Also, they are no longer able to discuss the uses on the phone because of this law. We can, however, still find the information for the many uses of this great, economical product, on the Web. The best resource I’ve found is at Optimal Health Network. Many of these uses and amounts for the mixtures are exactly what used to be on the labels for the product. This information is very valuable now that the company is longer able to publish it or talk about it.
I use it to disinfect my feet. It helps my rough heels become smooth again. It can actually blister your skin if used full strength so it’s important to dilute it in tender areas (like toes) but I use it on my heels full strength.
One new thing I have found is that it does not store well in water. I used to keep it in a spray bottle diluted with water but it started to mold after several days. I no longer store it like this.
10) Miracle Soap II
I have devoted an entire post to just this product. It is a great all purpose cleaner. It is best used in foam dispensers. Check out the full post on this great product. I even use a moisturizing version of the soap for showering. It leaves no soap scum so keeping shower stalls and tubs clean is a lot easier! It leaves no soap scum on you so it keep you healthier.
11) Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent (Free & Clear)
My skin was getting irritated from my clothes and our bed sheets. The perfume smells were making my throat and nose sore. Now we ALWAYS get laundry detergents that are FREE and CLEAR. I’ve found that Costco has a free and clear brand that also works but it has a few more chemicals in it than Seventh Generation. We prefer the Seventh Generation brand. Target carries this brand product now, too.
It is concentrated so it comes in a smaller dispenser. You don’t have to use as much of it as you would for non-concentrated laundry detergent.
Another VERY important product for laundry are your dryer sheets. The chemicals in them are very strong and they leave a strong smell. We found a much more natural alternative. Seventh Generation Natural Fabric Softener Sheets. We most often get them at Wholefoods but if they are out we order them from Amazon.com.
12) Seventh Generation Natural Dishwasher Detergent Powder (Free & Clear)
I was getting irritated breathing our strong dishwasher powders, so many of them have strong fragrances added to them these days, and needed to find an alternative. Seventh Generation Free & Clear is the only dishwasher powder we use. It is also available at Target as well as Wholefoods. Still, for your convenience, here is a link to this product on Amazon.com.
Washing the dishes in the dishwasher was fine but then we also had to consider the dishwasher rinse we were using — it also had to be non-toxic. Fortunately, Seventh Generation also has a Rinse Aid that is non-toxic that we found at our local Wholefoods but if you cannot find it at Wholefoods or your neighborhood Target, Amazon.com carries it in a two pack with free shipping.
It was a bit hard at first to consider throwing out all of the toxic cleaners we had when there was some still left in the bottles, but when I made the decision to switch, it was an “all or nothing” proposition. I had made the decision to go non-toxic and didn’t look back. The pain in my body was a motivator and each time I used a safer, non-toxic cleaner, the less I suffered. It became a barometer of what worked best. It may be harder to change if you do not have pain. If this is the case, consider that you are “investing” for your future health and keeping any painful living at bay!
Do you have non-toxic cleaners that you use that you would like to share in the comments below?