Monday, July 11, 2011

The Way We Clean: Natural and Non-toxic.

“Cleaning” in our home means that I have three little helpers wanting to spray and wipe right alongside me. This is not always conducive to actual cleaning, but it’s what happens here with little children around! With that in mind, I want to use products that will not harm them in case in their over zealousness to help, they decide to lick their fingers, or even lick the windows…. Yes it happens. I used to use all the regular cleaning products, you know, the green stuff, the purple stuff and the strong smelling “make everything white” stuff. After a serious bought with chemical sensitivities and learning what those 8 syllable words on the ingredient panel mean, I decided to make a few changes.

Those changes happened gradually over a number of years. At first I tried leading brand name cleaners that claimed to be ‘green’ or environmentally friendly. Some of them just worked so-so, others smelled as bad as the previous cleaners I was using and I decided that they couldn’t be much better. Many ‘green’ style cleaners just didn’t cut the grime, not all cleaners are created equal I quickly found out! And other cleaners just aren’t necessary, like window cleaner. I no longer buy special window cleaner, I either use my multi-purpose cleaner or vinegar & water to wash windows. Another thing that I have found is that not all green cleaners are actually ‘safe’ for children or the environment.

From there I discovered the brand biokleen about 10 years ago. I found that biokleen brand products worked well and were fairly priced compared to others. They were available though our buying club so I could easily get them and tried to order then when on sale to stretch my budget even farther. My favorite products were biokleen oxygen bleach plus for the laundry, produce wash and the all-purpose cleaner. I still use biokleen products in my home.

My favorite multi-purpose cleaner now is Thieves Household Cleaner* which is a super concentrated product that can be diluted to the necessary strength for the job at hand. I use it on windows, floors, in the dish washer to keep it clean and fresh smelling, clothes washer, bathroom, literally everywhere! My favorite thing about Thieves is that I am not afraid of letting my children use it, even my toddler who likes to taste everything!

I use Thieves cleaner in the bathroom for surfaces and floors. To scrub the tub I mist the tub with cleaner then sprinkle with a little baking soda for a light abrasive scrubbing action. My kids love to clean the bathtub! Of all chores that a kid could pick, I’m happy to let them do this one!

The only problem area I have found that ‘green’ cleaners struggle with is the commode. Keeping the bowl sparkling white without toxic chemicals is difficult for us. My compromise thus far is to do a regular cleaning with green products and occasionally I have to use a heavy duty chemical cleaner to deep clean. I hope to find something that will do the job without adding toxicity to the waste water. If you have found something, please do share in the comments section!

In my quest to do without chemicals I struggled with a replacement for good old bleach. Some things just need that extra disinfecting action that bleach provides and it works in the laundry so well. I found food grade hydrogen peroxide to fill the empty space the bleach bottle once filled. Food Grade (35%) H2O2 is a natural whitener and I use it in the laundry, bathroom and kitchen. You must be careful with it, it is a strong oxidizer, and so you must dilute it and keep out of reach of children & pets. You should not get it on your skin undiluted; it will cause a serious burn. I never use undiluted H2O2 in the house and thus my children aren’t in danger from it. Once it is diluted, they can use it safely. I use it to wash produce & soak our lettuce in. We also use it in place of chemicals in our pool, clean water without chlorine! One gallon of Food Grade H2O2 does cost more than bleach, but you do not need to use as much since it is very strong and one gallon will last a long time. I use apx a ¼ cup in the laundry when I need to whiten or disinfect. I use 1 cup in my pool for maintenance and 2 cups to ‘shock’ it. (I have a 10 foot pool that’s apx 3 ft deep.) You can find a list of uses for FG H2O2 here.

As time goes by, I find myself making more and more of my cleaning products which by nature are better for my family, home & environment. We want a good product, that is safe (non-toxic), sustainable, and inexpensive. This only makes good sense to me. In the past I have made my own lye soap and laundry soap too. I've found that making my own lye soap is too time consuming for me at this stage in life, so it is on the back burner for a while. I do look forward to dabbling in soap-making again, I find that it is enjoyable and a creative outlet for me.

Please share your household cleaning tips in the comments section!

*Disclaimer: I am a Young Living Independent Distributor and this Secret of Thieves page is mine. I can profit by these comments. ;) However, I will not recommend a product or service that I myself do not use and trust!


  1. I use Norwex...LOVE IT! I can clean my whole house with one cloth and some water...They are super microfiber cloths that are made with collodial silver. They pick up live bacteria and it's killed in the cloth...Anyway, I have been super happy, haven't spent money on cleaners in months,and I don't have to worry about toxins and strong fumes. Oh, and my kids can help me clean too! :)

  2. This is an interesting post. Right now I use a "green" cleaner that is available at myriad places. It's probably not the best or safest thing out there, but it's a start for my family.I know several people who use vinegar and water on just about everything.

  3. We used vinegar and water before Norwex, Naomi. It is a great cleaner...especially for windows! I just put equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and you used it all over. The smell goes away fairly quickly...sometimes I would just light a candle after.

  4. Someone told me, or maybe I read it somewhere, to put a few drops of lavender oil or some other pleasant smelling essential oil into the mixture to help with the scent. Unfortunately lavender oil bothers my asthma. But the idea is probably worth trying.

  5. Angie, thanks for the info, I will check into that product. I love colloidal silver and it's germ killing properties.
    Naomi, regular old lavender bothers me too. I was surprised to find out YL's lavender didn't give me headaches and it actually has helped me with seasonal allergies! Amazing stuff.

  6. I'll have to look into that food grade Hydrogen Peroxide thing! I just tried tea tree oil in my laundry the other day.