Tired of inhaling harmful chemicals while you clean? Worried about your family’s health and ready to make the switch but don’t know where to start?
Just like transitioning to a real-food lifestyle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of information regarding cleaning products and their potential harm.
The good news is, switching from conventional cleaners containing potentially toxic chemicals to ones that use natural, eco-friendly alternatives is easier than you think.
Here’s how to take the first steps toward transitioning to a more natural, non-toxic home.
Step 1: Think about your WHY.
Defining the number one reason behind your decision to move toward a more natural home serves as a great point of reference for all your choices moving forward.
Think of as many reasons as you can as to WHY you want to reach that goal. What would it mean for you and your family’s life? Dig deep inside your heart for the real reason(s) why.
Is it because you have small children and are concerned about the potential effects of toxic chemicals on their developing bodies? Is it because your spouse suffers from chronic allergies and you want to eliminate cleaning products that may be contributing to their struggles? Is it because you want to save money by making your own cleaning products?
Choose which “why” stands out to you the most—the one that really lights a fire of inspiration in your soul. Whenever you need a little more fuel, come back to your “why” and regain your motivation!
Step 2: Don’t fall for tricky marketing terms. Be an informed consumer.
Spend some time learning about the sneaky side of the cleaning industry and how to easily spot toxic cleaners versus fully transparent, non-toxic ones.
Just like shopping for food at the grocery store, you have to look past the buzzwords that companies use to lure you into purchasing their products. Check for harmful ingredients or, if none are listed, scan the packaging for words that may indicate the product uses ingredients that may do more harm than good (e.g., warning, caution, corrosive, caustic).
We, as consumers, can reverse the trend by educating ourselves to avoid potentially toxic ingredients and make more natural, safer products the norm.
Step 3: Swap out ONE product at a time.
When it comes to making the switch to safer, more natural cleaning products, you don’t have to swap out everything at once—in fact, we don’t suggest it! Rather than feeling completely overwhelmed by wanting to eliminate ALL the products in your home, focus on making ONE change at a time.
Maybe you want to replace one cleaning product a week or replace each product as it runs out.
Focus on each small improvement and one-by-one, week-by-week, they will add up to make a BIG difference in your family’s overall health.
If you’re not sure which cleaning product to eliminate first, narrow down the list by considering:
- Which products are used in your household frequently—possibly an all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner?
- The cleaners that are most concerning in terms of toxic ingredients—the “biggest offenders.”
- Products you’re already running low on. This gives you time to start researching DIY recipes or how you can replace the item with a more natural alternative.
- What’s the less intimating switch? For example, if you LOVE your kitchen cleaner but could care less about the toilet bowl cleaner you use, then it’s a lot easier to swap the toilet cleaner first.
Now that you’ve chosen a product to replace, you can find a suitable alternative.
Step 4: Build a list of transparent companies you trust.
When a company chooses to conceal what they include in their product, rather than openly reveal the actual ingredients used, there’s cause for concern.
A company should be completely transparent about their sourcing and ingredients, especially ones that claim to be “green,” “natural,” “organic,” “biodegradable,” and “plant-based.”
If they have nothing to hide, they should WANT to share what’s in their product. In fact, they should be so proud that they’re shouting it to the universe.
If you don’t have an interest in, or the time, to concoct your own DIY products, that’s perfectly okay. Come up with a list of trustworthy companies that are completely transparent about what’s inside their cleaning products and the potential health impact of any ingredients used.
When adding to your list of green cleaning products, look for brands that meet these criteria:
- Discloses ingredients and is fully transparent about their products (even though they’re not required to)
- Does not contain artificial or synthetic fragrances or colors
- Contains plant-based ingredients (not petroleum-based)
- Is biodegradable (preferably USDA Certified Biobased Product)
- Has an A or B rating on the EWG’s cleaning product database
We recommend checking out the EWG’s database or downloading the THINK DIRTY app (our personal favorite), where you can research individual products.
Creating this list does take some time, but it will save you from stressing about products in the future because you have a list that’s already been given the stamp of approval. Make it an on-going list; when you try a new product from a company you trust, add it!
Step 5: Consider making your own cleaners.
Homemade products made with pure ingredients are about as natural as you can get. You can customize them to suit your needs by using different natural ingredients and scents, such as essential oils. Plus, you can save a lot of $$ because most “green, non-toxic” products are quite pricey.
And, many ingredients in homemade cleaning products, like baking soda and vinegar, are items you likely already have in your pantry.
If you’re unsure where to begin, learn how to make one or two basic cleaning products. Start with the ones you use most often in your home: a multipurpose cleaner, scouring paste, a glass and mirror cleaner OR a product that you’ve had a difficult time finding from a reputable, transparent company. If you have the time and desire, you can continue adding to your DIY arsenal from there.
Something to consider: Generally speaking, making your own products will save you more money, plus you’ll know EXACTLY what ingredients are used. But, purchasing less-toxic store-bought products can save you time. So, when making the switch, ask yourself which is MORE of a priority for you right now.
Step 6: Review, refine and repeat.
Not every green cleaning product you try will be a total hit. For example, you may buy a multipurpose cleaner and it just isn’t what you’re looking for OR you may concoct your own but aren’t a fan of the essential oil used. That’s okay!
Use this transition as a learning process and make choices in the future based on what did and didn’t work well in the past.
Keep a little notebook somewhere or create a document online where you can jot down each of the products you try and whether or not you would use them again. As time goes on, you’ll build a master list and seamlessly switch over more and more products.
Step 7: Celebrate!
Congratulations on being your own advocate for you and your family’s health. It’s wonderFULL that you’ve decided to ditch toxic cleaners that cause more harm than good and make the transition to ones you trust and know are safe.
Once you start using eco-friendly, green cleaning products and see how well they work, you’ll never go back to toxic, conventional ones. Remember, with every switch you make, you are one step closer to living a less-toxic lifestyle—and that’s something worth celebrating!