So, you want to start a more healthy lifestyle? Take it one step at a time so you aren’t overwhelmed! If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me, you have a tendency to dive in headfirst and want everything perfect immediately.
Obviously, that’s an impossible task, BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. Even the smallest of changes makes a difference! In this post, we’ll discuss some of the easiest ways to gently begin the transition to a toxin free home.
Switch out household cleaners
My tip for the EASIEST way to start? Switch out your household cleaners! That’s right, get rid of all those nasty chemicals and use….vinegar! Buy a good spray bottle or two, fill with half vinegar, half water, and you’re set.
If you want to be fancy or you just reeally don’t like the smell of vinegar, just add some drops of essential oil such as lemon (do try to source organic oils though). You will get used to the vinegar smell soon however, and I find it dissipates pretty quickly.
(Side note: when used correctly, vinegar is effective against certain pathogens such as e-coli and salmonella, but is not effective enough against viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.)
For countertops and bathroom fixtures, simply spray the mixture onto surfaces, wait for a minute or so, then wipe down with a damp cleaning cloth.
Even the insides of your toilets can be cleaned with vinegar! If you have some particularly dirty toilet bowls, try sprinkling a little baking soda around the bowl and then spraying your vinegar/water mixture onto it. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then scrub down with a toilet brush and voila! Sparkling clean toilet bowls; no need for nasty chemicals.
Now for windows…I’m still struggling with those. I haven’t yet found the perfect mixture that leaves a streak free shine each and every time! Actually I think it may be my cleaning cloths that are the problem. I was once gifted a cleaning cloth called “zapcloth” that are simply dampened with water that worked astonishingly well for both windows and stainless steel. I’ve had it for many years though, and it’s now not quite as effective anymore and does leave some streaks. Maybe I’ll look into getting some more of those, or some good quality microfibre cloths. (Update: I found a similar window washing cloth at one of our local coffee shops, of all places. Still my favorite way to wash windows!)
Learn how to clean windows with vinegar here and here.
Check out this David Suzuki post for more vinegar cleaning uses in your home.
Another great cleaning product to have in your arsenal is castile soap. It’s my latest favorite. I love Green Beaver’s all purpose castile soap in “Zesty Orange”. Some other favorite brands are Dr. Bronners and Rocky Mountain Soap Company’s Everything Soap. Bonus: both the Green Beaver and Rocky Mountain Soap Company are Canadian!
Ps. I don’t mean throw all the cleaners you currently have straight into the garbage. That just can’t be the right thing to do. If anyone has suggestions for what to do with these chemicals that we don’t want to use anymore, I’m all ears. Maybe donate them to someone who does still use that stuff? That way they are hearing about the new healthier method of cleaning too…and you never know, maybe it will plant a little bug in their ear 😉 Or otherwise, just use the rest of what you have and then as soon as it’s used up, switch to the good stuff (ie. vinegar).
No more disposables
Another biggie but such a super simple tip: decide not to purchase disposable cleaning products again! By that I mean swiffers, dusters, etc. They’re so convenient (I know!) but it’s just not worth it for the environment. Not to mention, that stuff isn’t cheap! Get a wool or feather duster instead, and maybe a lightweight vacuum.
Next time you run out of laundry detergent, try something like Nellie’s washing soda (I don’t totally love it myself, but a lot of people I know do), Attitude laundry detergents, or many of the other detergents available now that are healthier options and devoid of toxic chemicals. Check EWG (environmental working group) lists of healthy-for-you laundry detergents.
If you watch for sales on these detergents, you won’t be paying terribly much more and your future self will thank you for getting rid of all of those chemicals next to your (and your family’s) skin day in and day out. Well.ca is my online go-to for buying a lot of these healthier items, but you can find them in many health stores, or even regular grocery and drug stores these days.
If you’re in a physical store and need to buy detergent but aren’t sure which ones are safe and which are not, try googling the kind you have in your hand. Maybe check out the EWG website. A lot of companies have wised up to the fact that packaging that appears healthier or “natural” is appealing to people…so there’s a lot of trickery out there. Items that look healthy or have green leaves or “natural” claims may be just as bad for you as the big brands you know and don’t love any more.
Also, avoid using fabric softeners, bleaches, etc. They are rarely necessary and their regular use will not benefit your health. Plus you’ll save money! You can use dryer balls to replace fabric softeners, and the bonus there is that they’ll help your laundry dry quicker, which will save you even more money- on your energy bill!
Cleaning doesn’t have to be toxic! I hope you’re convinced and will start with my tips today!