Back when we first started talking about trying to get pregnant, I did some research about what types of changes I should make to our lifestyle before we welcomed a baby. Obviously, I looked into nutrition first. Then exercise. Neither seemed terribly dramatic; maybe cut back on alcohol, try to choose organic, focus on less-intense workouts, etc. Everything seemed fairly commonsense.
But I quickly noticed that there were a lot of recommendations to clean up our cleaning products. That was something that hadn’t immediately occurred to me, but made total sense. As cognizant as I am about keeping healthy foods on hand, I had never taken a good look at what I was using to clean our house. The more I thought about it, I realized that some of the chemicals that I was using to clean (the kinds that forced me to open a window while I was using them) were not chemicals I wanted to be inhaling while pregnant, nor did I want future baby to be exposed to them.
So began operation natural cleaning products in our house.
It’s coming up on a year since I started to make these changes, so I wanted to share what I’ve found and some of my favorite natural cleaning products that I use every day!
I was actually using this one long before the pregnancy talk came up, but it’s still worth sharing. I’ve never liked the idea of using chemicals where I’m preparing food, but I wipe down our counters several times per day. Vinegar is an easy solution! I keep a bottle diluted in water in a spray bottle under the sink for quick clean-ups. Among other uses, I also use white vinegar as the rinse agent in the dishwasher, in place of windex for cleaning windows, and I’ll sometimes add a cup to the rinse cycle of our white laundry to brighten and remove stains. I think the gallon of white vinegar is less than $2, so with just those few uses you can see that not only is it natural, but it’s a huge money saver, too!
Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap (I use almond, but there’s a variety of scents) is a cleaning all-star. It literally does everything. They tout 18 uses, and while I haven’t tried all 18 yet, I’ve been using it almost daily since purchasing the stuff. All-purpose cleaner stored in a spray bottle; homemade soft scrub mixed with baking soda; dog shampoo (even Sydney liked it); mopping solution; heavy-duty dish soap. Check out this list of dilutions for various ways to use castille soap! I’ve only been using castille soap for a few months, and I’m already hooked.
Natural Laundry Detergent
This was the first change I made for pregnancy. I’ve been through a few different brands, but we’re currently using the Seventh Generation powdered detergent. While I sometime miss the scent of my prior-favorite Tide sport, I feel a lot better about having clothes against our skin without the extra chemicals that come with those strong-smelling detergents.
Another money-saver that can be used as a natural cleaning product! Baking soda has a lot of uses, specifically in the kitchen. You probably already know that it’s a great deodorizer (stick a small bowl-full or a small box in the back of your refrigerator), but it also makes an excellent gentle abrasive scrub. I use it mixed with dish soap to scrub my stainless steel pots and pans, mixed with castille soap as a soft scrub for the sink (use in the tub, too!), and with a splash of vinegar in a greasy pan that I can’t quite scrub out. Here’s a list of more uses, in case you’re interested!
This doesn’t really count as a ‘product’, nor is it ‘natural per se, but I’ve always been big on using cloth towels and cloths over paper towels. Yes, we still have paper towels in the house, but for cleaning I only use cloth. This cuts down on a lot of trash/waste, and also saves a LOT of money. As I’m sure you know- good paper towels are pricey! I save old washcloths to wipe down counter tops and clean the bathroom, and keep scraps of old clothes (white undershirts are best!) for dust cloths. Thanks to my mom for that idea!
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner – I can’t quite give up on the fresh smelling toilet bowl cleaner, so this is a good alternative to the bleach types. I get the spearmint scent!
- Dish Soap – I haven’t fully made the switch yet, but every now and then I’ll pick up this dish soap instead of Dawn. I’ve noticed that with most natural products, you have to get past the lack of suds; most natural products don’t create the bubbles that we’re used to, but they still get the job done! (Note- I’ve also started to use the castille soap on extra-tough grease and sometimes let the castille soap soak in the pan overnight.)
- Hand Soap – I jumped on the train with Mrs. Meyers hand soap before it even crossed my mind to find something natural; the scents got me! But I also like knowing that I’m not using something harsh on my hands multiple times per day. While I use that in the kitchen, in the bathrooms and shower I use Green Daisy Soaps. Made in central PA (for local readers) but you can also order online! My favorite is the Caribbean coconut.
While I’ve made good progress with the household cleaners, I’m still working on making changes to our personal products like toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. I’ve tried natural deodorants and toothpastes, but can’t say that I’ve found the right ones yet. I’m also trying to make natural and chemical-free choices when it comes to buying and registering for baby products, so I see this as an ongoing project that I’m working on one product at a time. Baby steps!
What are your favorite natural cleaning products? Do you have any recommendations for natural ‘personal’ products?
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