Did you know that you share your home with up to a thousand chemicals?1 We spend a lot of time in our homes, and so do our families. Many of us take time to detox our minds and bodies and opt for supplements made from real food sources to get everything we need and nothing we don’t. But despite all the effort to keep our bodies toxin-free, we may not stop and consider how we can clean and refresh our home in natural ways—using naturally-derived cleaning products.
So, why not do everything you can to make your home the healthy, nourishing space you deserve? Here are some tips for how to clean and refresh each area of your home.
Entryway Cleaning Tips
You probably know that if you wear shoes in the house, you’re likely to track in dirt and bacteria, but do you know what else? A study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that we also track herbicides and pesticides into our homes, and they tend to come off our shoes onto carpets.2
How do you avoid tracking dirt, bacteria and chemicals into your home?
- Always take your shoes off at the door.
- Invest in a rug or mat for both the outside and inside of your entryway to help catch residue.
- Limit indoor/outdoor pet access, especially after you’ve treated your lawn.
- Research natural ways to rid your lawn of pests to avoid chemicals.
Also, don’t store pesticide containers indoors. The EPA reported that 80% of most people’s pesticide exposure happens indoors and that as many as 12 pesticides have been found in the air in homes from a combination of getting tracked inside and being stored indoors.3
Quick Tip: Sprinkle baking soda on your entryway rug and let it sit for a few hours to absorb odors.
Detoxing and Cleaning Your Living Room
If you have ever searched for a way to keep stains off your sofa or carpets, you are probably familiar with stain-guard coatings. The coatings used to protect furniture and carpet is similar to stain-guard spray for clothing. The chemicals in these products are known mostly as fluoropolymers, which the EPA says can break down into perfluorochemicals (PFCs).4 They’re nearly indestructible synthetic compounds, also known as super plastics, and they’ve been found in people, as well as in the environment.5
Also, be conscious of the potential for carpet, furniture and textiles to harbor hidden toxins. Choose wood floors, natural linoleum or ceramic tile flooring if you can, and natural wool and cotton rugs instead of synthetics. And if you can do so, avoid furniture and carpet pads that contain foam that has been treated with known toxins. Chemists have recently introduced an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic flame retardant for use in treating foam and textiles, but chemicals in older flame retardants may be released from products into your home.6,7
Other ways to get a clean, refreshed living room include using a HEPA-filtered air purifier to clean your air, and mopping and vacuuming at least once each week. Choose a vacuum cleaner that uses HEPA-filters as well. HEPA filters help minimize dust and dander in the air.
Tips for a Clean, Refreshed Living Room
- Don’t put stain-guard on your furniture, carpets or textiles.
- Opt for wood, natural linoleum or tile floors instead of carpeting if you can.
- Choose natural wool and cotton rugs over synthetics.
- Pick furniture and carpets that have not been treated with known toxins.
- Vacuum and mop weekly.
- Choose HEPA filters for your vacuum and air purifier.
Quick Tip: Try using lemon oil to polish your furniture.
Clean Kitchen Tips to Reduce Toxins
Kitchens are an area of special interest when it comes to ridding your home of toxins and taking care of daily cleaning duties. Many of us store cleaning supplies in the kitchen, but it’s also where we prepare and store food, and it’s where get our drinking water. So, if you’re looking to reduce toxins and keep your home clean, give your kitchen a little extra attention.
The surfaces that contact your food are a priority. Remember those super plastics we mentioned earlier that are in stain-repellants? Non-stick coatings for cookware are also in that category. Many non-stick coatings contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) which researchers are studying as potential contributors to health concerns.8 It takes years for these chemicals to leave the human body and confirmed health effects of PFCs are largely unknown, so it’s best to choose cookware without non-stock coatings.8
Also, select your plastics carefully. Some of them contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which has been linked to numerous health issues.9 Use glass or BPA-free plastics and skip the plastic wrap.
Quick Tip: Clean your wood cutting boards with full-strength apple cider vinegar.
Natural Kitchen and House Cleaning
Choosing cleaning supplies without chemicals is a big step toward keeping toxins out of your home and cleaning with natural ingredients. You can also make your own natural cleaners. Cleaning with vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and other natural ingredients is a good choice. It’s better for you and better for the environment than chemical cleaners.
Essential Oils for House Cleaning
- Use essential oils to add fragrance to homemade cleaning sprays (like the apple cider vinegar spray below). Lavender essential oil works well with vinegar-based cleaners.
- Add a few drops of essential oil to an unscented, vegetable-based liquid soap, plus washing soda (optional) for a natural dish soap. Rosemary essential oil is wonderful for this. Thyme essential oil works well too, and has cleaning properties that may be especially helpful in the kitchen.
- Use a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil when cleaning your sink with baking soda (instructions below). Or use pine essential oil in your baking soda floor cleaner.
- Mix 10-15 drops of tea tree oil or sandalwood essential oil into a spray bottle with a cup of distilled water for a natural room spray.
- Combine citrus extracts like lemon essential oil or orange essential oil with a solution of ¼ cup of washing soda dissolved in half a gallon of water to clean oven hoods, exhaust fans and small appliances that attract build-up.
View our Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Beginner's Guide to Using Essential Oils for more ways to use essential oils to refresh your home and beauty routine.
Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar
- Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water to make an all-purpose cleaner for kitchen surfaces.
- Use full strength apple cider vinegar to clean wood cutting boards.
- Apply full strength to polish silverware and for spotless stainless-steel appliance.
- Pour ½ cup of apple cider vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher before running to get sparkling dishes.
- Use a 1:1 solution to degrease kitchen surfaces, clean your refrigerator, or to soak product jars you want to re-use.
Apple cider vinegar has many additional uses for health and home. Learn about them in 30 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar.
Cleaning with Baking Soda
- Sprinkle baking soda on pots and pans to help clean baked-on residue.
- Use ½ cup in a bucket of warm water and use it to brighten a dull tile floor, or use a little baking soda to spot clean floors.
- Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar into your kitchen drain for a natural way to unclog your sink.
- Make baking soda into a paste with a little water and apply the paste to stains on your granite countertop and let it sit overnight, then wipe clean. Or use the paste as a scrub to remove coffee and tea stains from mugs and pots.
- Keep an open container of baking soda in your fridge, and sprinkle a little in your trash can before putting in the bag to ward off smells.
Cleaning with Distilled White Vinegar
- Use ½ cup of vinegar in half a gallon of warm water to mop floors (you don’t need to rinse!).
- Add 1½ cup to the bottom of your dishwasher to help clean dishes and your washer.
- Pour a cup down your sink drain once a week to freshen it up. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes before running cold water.
- Use vinegar to clean surfaces that commonly get a film—like for cleaning the inside of the microwave, a glass oven door, or windows.
- You can also add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of water and microwave it on high for a few minutes until a steam forms on the inside of the glass, then wipe food stains away.
Tips to Reduce Toxins in the Kitchen
- Skip non-stick pans, since non-stick coatings may contain harmful chemicals.8
- Use glass or non-BPA plastics, avoid exposing food to plastic wrap, and keep plastics out of the microwave.
- Use natural cleaning supplies or make your own instead of buying chemical-laden cleaning solutions.
Tips to Clean Your Bathroom and Reduce Toxins
First, before we get to cleaning the bathroom, let's consider the products brought into our bathrooms for personal care and beauty routines. To keep toxins out of your bathroom, and out of your body, examine the ingredients in your personal care products. Many products intended for personal care contain a surprising number of chemicals. One of those chemicals is triclosan, which is classified as a pesticide and has been linked to endocrine effects, developmental concerns and more.10 Educate yourself on the chemicals that should not be in your personal care products. There are a lot of them. Choose all-natural, non-toxic personal care and beauty products instead.
Many of the same principles of detoxing and cleaning your kitchen and other areas of your home also apply to the bathroom, including using natural cleaners or making your own cleaning supplies. Baking soda is excellent for cleaning the toilet and removing hard water stains. You can also soak hair brushes in 1 teaspoon of baking soda and warm water. Vinegar helps remove soap scum and cleans mirrors. And you can use either vinegar or baking soda to tackle bathroom mold.
Natural Mold Cleaners
- Add undiluted, distilled white vinegar to a spray bottle, spray it on mold and let it sit for an hour before wiping.
- Dissolve half a tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of water and add to a spray bottle, spray and scrub with a brush. Rinse and then re-spray, but let it dry this time without rinsing to help deter new growth.
- If you have a particularly stubborn spot of mold, try using hydrogen peroxide. Spray it on and leave it for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing.
Also, replace your plastic shower curtain or liner with a healthier option. That strong scent from many plastic shower liners is from PVC, which is made of vinyl chloride. According to the EPA, vinyl chloride is a known concern for human health.11 Choose a shower curtain made of nylon, organic cotton or hemp instead. And opt for natural bathroom rug materials, like wool or cotton, instead of synthetics.
Tips for a Clean, Non-Toxic Bathroom
- Examine the chemicals in your personal care products and choose natural products instead.
- Replace your cleaning supplies with natural options, and use essential oils to freshen up.
- Choose a shower curtain that is not made of plastic or PVC. Nylon, organic cotton and hemp are good choices.
- Select a bathroom rug made of wool or cotton instead of synthetics.
A Clean, Refreshing and Relaxing Bedroom
Encourage healthy rest and recovery by taking steps to clean and detox your bedroom. You can start by keeping the air clean, and this applies to your whole home as well. When weather permits, open your windows as much as possible to let in fresh air. And use plants to help naturally detoxify the air you breathe.
According to a NASA study, air purifying plants can significantly help filter out common toxins found in the home, like formaldehyde, which is sometimes present in chemicals used to make or treat carpets, furniture, and foam within furniture and mattresses.12 Areca palms, bamboo palms, Boston ferns, rubber plants and English ivy are all excellent choices for houseplants that help purify air.
Also, opt for candles made from soy or beeswax instead of paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum. According to the EPA, candles are a top concern for indoor air pollution.12 And carry the approach to non-toxic cleaning over to your bedroom—including the detergent you use to wash your clothing and bedding. Choose a natural laundry detergent or make your own with washing soda and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the detergent bin in your machine for a little extra freshness.
And finally, an important aspect of detoxing your bedroom is keeping your electronic devices elsewhere. Charge your phones and tablets in another room, and consider banishing them from the bedroom altogether. Why? Blue light exposure from your devices before bedtime can disrupt your melatonin production and sleeping patterns; and the short, energetic waves from blue light may affect the health of your eyes.14 Learn more in Important Facts about Blue Light and Eye Health.
Cleaning Tips for the Bedroom
- Open windows whenever you can and let in fresh air.
- Add some plants that help clean the air.
- Use non-toxic laundry detergent or make your own with washing soda and essential oils
- Use soy or beeswax candles instead of paraffin.
- Digital detox your bedroom by keeping devices elsewhere.
Naturally Cleaning and Detoxing Your Home
Our homes are the last place we expect to encounter toxins, but they can hide in some unexpected places. We hope these tips will help banish toxins from your home, and if you have your own home detox or natural cleaning tips, share them with our readers below.
While you have cleaning on the mind, it’s a good time clean out your pantry too, and restock it with healthier options. Read Pack Your Pantry: How to Make a Real Food Pantry for ideas, and get more relaxation in your life with Say Om: 6 Tips to Help You Relax and Reduce Stress.
1 Stronger law can better target toxic chemicals that surround us at home. Environmental Defense Fund. https://www.edf.org/health/where-are-toxic-chemicals-your-home (Accessed 4/19/2018)
2 Keep Off the Grass and Take Off Your Shoes! Common Sense Can Stop Pesticides from Being Tracked Into The House. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990427045111.htm (Accessed 4/19/2018)
3 Pesticides' Impact on Indoor Air Quality. United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/pesticides-impact-indoor-air-quality (Accessed 4/19/2018)
4 Degradability of an Acrylate-Linked, Fluorotelomer Polymer in Soil. Journal of Environmental Science & Technology. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es9002668 (Accessed 4/19/2018)
5 Industry calls them super plastics. What if they’re also super dangerous? Environmental Working Group & EWG Action Fund. https://www.ewg.org/kid-safe-chemicals-act-blog/2009/07/industry-calls-them-super-plastics-what-if-theyre-also-super-dangerous/ (Accessed 4/20/2018)
6 Non-toxic flame retardant enters market, study suggests. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170928085147.htm (Accessed 4/20/2018)
7 What's in my foam? Duke University http://foam.pratt.duke.edu/ (Accessed 4/20/2018)
8 Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/perflourinated_chemicals_508.pdf (Accessed 4/20/2018)
9 Risk Management for Bisphenol A (BPA). United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-management-bisphenol-bpa (Accessed 4/20/2018)
10 Triclosan Facts. United States Environmental Protection Agency Archive. https://archive.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/web/html/triclosan_fs.html (Accessed 4/20/2018)
11 Vinyl chloride. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/vinyl-chloride.pdf
12 Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. NASA. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf (Accessed 4/20/2018)
13 Americans Use Electronic Media 11+ Hours A Day: Nielsen, via Statista. https://www.statista.com/chart/1971/electronic-media-use (Accessed 11/06/2017)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This article was originally shared in April of 2018.