Is it possible to simplify your life, save money, help the planet and have a safer home for your family? I firmly believe so and that’s why I’ve put together this simple guide. It contains my best tips on how to have a less toxic home by actually doing less.
TIP 1: Use fewer products. Often we don’t need a special product for cleaning mirrors, windows or fridges, even though advertising might make it seem like it’s necessary. You’ll save money and space in your cabinets.
TIP 2: Use natural, non-petroleum based cleaning and personal care products. When you don’t use harsh chemicals, you don’t have to be constantly worried where to store them. Kids and pets are safe.
TIP 3: Get a few good tools. Have a quality mop, microfibre cloths, brushes, sponges etc. Clean regularly, when it’s easy. If you do it once in a blue moon, when the dirt has hardened, you’ll be tempted to bring out the more toxic guns.
For me, kitchen is the centre of home, sanctuary that brings people closer and deserves to be non-toxic because what you produce there, goes straight inside your body. I’m sure you’ve had an experience or two when you’ve got a dirty plate, a glass that smelled like strong detergent or was coated in some odd substance that wouldn’t add much value to your selected wine. Imagine what goes onto your plate in a dishwasher and how it can scratch the plates and glasses. What will it do to you on the inside when it can actually damage dishes?
Non-stick cookware – make sure it does not contain harmful PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid). For example Greenpan offers a wide range of safe ceramic non-stick cookware. Tefal Jamie Oliver range is also without PFOA, cadmium or lead.
Reduce the amount of canned food, many cans are lined in a resin that contains BPA (endocrine disruptor).
I always have Vileda Wettex sponge cloths at hand because they’re made of cellulose and cotton and are compostable.
Whether you like washing dishes by hand like me, or you’re a dishwasher fan, there are many natural options out there. My favourite washing-up liquid is by Attitude and it smells like lily of the valley.
Clean your fridge with a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts warm water. Wipe all the surface and your fridge will be fresh again. Vinegar helps get rid of smells and has many uses around the house. Mix with baking soda and you can use it unclog your drain.
I have always enjoyed a bar soap because I don’t like the feeling of liquid soap when sometimes you can’t wash it off easily. When I switched to more natural toothpastes, I realized I enjoy tasting new flavours, not just the minty one with so much of various foaming agents.
Shower curtain – choose fabric instead of PVC/plastic
Mirrors – clean/polish easily with a bit of water and microfibre cloth.
When I switched to natural laundry liquid, our clothes would keep their colour much longer which I really liked because I’m a sucker for black clothes. No need for softener either, clothes stay soft naturally. Fragrance in laundry detergent/softeners can be full of toxins like pthalates because it is designed to cling to clothes.
My favourite laundry detergent at the moment is Citrus Zest by Attitude. I love the smell and how well it performs.
Note on Ecover: I used to like this brand very much, but they started putting polymers like polypropylene terephthalate into their laundry liquids, which I find completely unnecessary and unecological.
For regular stains like ink, blood, fruit, fat, grass I use a gall soap (bar or liquid). There are many brands that have it in their product lines – Sonett, Sodasan, Dr.Beckmann etc.
Dryer sheets can contain many different VOCs (volatile organic compounds), including known carcinogens, acetaldehyde and benzene. You can actually make your own easily, here’s how.
Most antibacterial soaps and hand-sanitizers contain questionable ingredients like triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate, methylisothiazolinone, various fragrances and dyes.
I like Sonett products for disinfecting surfaces (like toilet seats etc.) and hands (while travelling or during flu season).
If you’re looking for an alcohol free sanitizer that is suitable even for infants, try Aquaint. It only contains water and hypochlorous acid, which is actually produced by the body. It’s completely safe and natural.
LIVING ROOM & BEDROOM
Choose mattresses and cushions/pillows that are not made of polyurethane foam, as it’s likely to contain toxic flame retardants. Choose organic/natural bedding, look for Öko-Tex sign which ensures the textiles have been tested for harmful substances.
Vacuum regularly (especially after doing laundry it’s quite dusty), mop less frequently. I prefer flat mops like Vileda Ultramax and for all floors I use plain water or this cleaner by Attitude. If you don’t like vacuuming, the chances are that you have a lousy and loud vacuum cleaner. When I was buying a vacuum cleaner, I made sure it was silent and since then I have enjoyed vacuuming. It’s the fastest way to clean for me. I recommend something from the Electrolux Ultrasilencer line, like this one. You can check the decibel levels and find another brand. I’ve been very happy with my Ultrasilencer Green.
Wipe surfaces regularly with a damp cloth or a microfibre cloth. As things disintegrate over time, they might turn to dust, so depending on the material, the dust may contain quite a few toxic ingredients. Declutter your surfaces, so wiping will be easier for you.
Improve air quality by airing at least once a day. You’ll reduce the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds – fumes and gases emitted by furniture, building materials, paints, carpets etc.)
Skip synthetic air fresheners, they’re full of toxic ingredients. Make your own using baking soda and several drops of your favourite essential oil. Put the mixture in a nice glass jar, cover with a nice fabric and secure with a ribbon.
Take off your shoes
Leave dirt, feces and chemicals you’ve collected outside at the door instead of spreading them around your home.
If a product contains several warnings about its dangers, you know it’s probably not the safest to have in your cabinet. Sometimes stronger products are necessary, especially to address bigger issues like mold. The point is to reduce the amount of such products.
Brands worth trying:
Lilly’s Eco Clean
If you also want to detox your beauty bag, read this blog post.