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Green Housekeeping and Protecting Your Family from Hidden Household Dangers

by Tiffany in A Green Home

One of the most common questions I get from readers is “Where Do I Start”? They may know they want to make some changes but they really have no idea where to begin and that is perfectly normal. It can be daunting when you decide that you want to make your home healthier and greener, especially if all this is new to you. Most of us have time constraints and money constraints so that has to be considered as well. No matter which way you slice it though the easiest way to get started is to just pick a problem and fix it.

What are your hot button issues? Are you most worried about chemical cleaners, additives in your food, off gassing of plastic products, or getting the toxins out of your indoor air? Just keep a running list of things you want to change, products you want to buy, and ideas for greening and cleaning your household. Take this master list and compare it to your budget and your schedule and get started in any small way you can. Once you start ticking things off that list you will gain some momentum and you’ll realize that you have more influence over the health of your home environment than you think. Here are three ways you can get the toxins out of your home. These are as good a place to start as any.

Clean Up Your Your Laundry Routine

So what exactly is the smell of clean laundry? If you think it smells like a fresh mountain spring you are probably exposing your family to chemicals every time they wear clean duds and you are washing those same chemicals down the drain. That smell is actually a chemical perfume that scientists in white coats have spent hours tinkering with and it was not to make sure it was safe for you either. Lots of money goes into researching scented products because they know that scents sell the product. Skip it! The skin is your largest organ and wearing clothes cleaned in those chemical perfume products is like wearing a nicotine patch 24/7 but with perfume chemicals instead of nicotine.

Try greener, cleaner laundry products like soap nuts, Dr. Bronner’s, or one of my new favorites of late Roux Maison Essential Fragrance Free. LOVE this product! It is made with purified water, non-hazardous biodegradable surfactants, non-hazardous biodegradable salts, and 100% pure essential oils. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Free, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) Free, Formaldehyde Free, Pthalate Free, 1,4 Dioxane Free, Paraben Free, Phosphate Free, Readily Biodegradable, Optical Brightener Free, Neutral pH, Not A Marine Pollutant, No Harmful Chemical Residue, No Animal Testing, Vegan, No Genetically Modified (GMO) Ingredients, Safe for Sensitive Skin, Ingredients Classified as Non-Hazardous, Low Sudsing. All in all, very good stuff.

Dryer sheets are also loaded with chemicals and we can avoid those by hanging clothes to dry on a clothes line or hanging racks. For days when you would prefer a dyer, perhaps in the winter or when it is raining, you can use dryer sachets made with lavender or wool dryer balls. These easy household hacks produce the same results but with less impact on planetary resources and on our health.

Clean the Air

Adding indoor plants is a lovely way to bring fresh air into the home. They do a great job cleaning the air and absorbing contaminants. Spider pants, ivy, and ferns are all good for this purpose. When the weather is fine it is also a good idea to open as many doors and windows as you can to let let things air out.

Indoor air purifiers are also a welcome addition to a clean and green home. We have been using our Bionaire purifiers/ionizers for many months now. I would hate to be without them!

Clean Your Bathroom

Start with the cleaners under your sink. If you currently use harsh chemical cleaners, switch to hot water, castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. Not only will your house smell fresh and clean without synthetic fragrance the germs will be just as dead. You can also rest easy that your family will not be poisoned.

Shampoo can be ditched in favor of a baking soda/apple cider vinegar routine or a shampoo bar. Toothpaste can be bought without fluoride or SLS. I personally like the coconut oil based toothpaste from Tropical Traditions. Lotions, potions, and other body products should be certified organic if possible and made with food based ingredients. Toss conventional over the counter meds in your medicine cabinet in favor of of homeopathic and herbal remedies. Reduce chlorine exposure in the shower and tub by using a chlorine filter.

Once you tackle some or all of these issues move on to the next area of concern… perhaps healthier foods or a safer sleeping environment. This is a process and we keep learning, growing, and changing as we go. The important part is to take that first step and make that first change. To your health!

  • These are great ideas… my question about the laundry soap is: does it WORK! It’s great to be green, but I need clean clothes too. I have a husband with a dirty job, and I just wonder if this product (I’ve tried other green laundry products) will work. 

    • Yep. All three that I mentioned actually work. My hubby works in a factory and gets quite dirty too. ;)

  • Jill Hart

    Soda water and coke are great grease cleaners too. And Hydrogen peroxide works wonders in the get it sterile department.  Wonderful article.  

  • Jill Hart

    Soda water and coke are great grease cleaners too. And Hydrogen peroxide works wonders in the get it sterile department.  Wonderful article.  

  • Bernita burdick

    I really like the simple changes you suggest. I already use a lot of baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and baking soda for brushing the teeth. I wondered about the laundry soap too. I know there are recipes Online for laundry soap.

  • Jessica E

    I love how simply you put these steps! It is such an overwhelming process when you just start out getting rid of toxic products in your life, and stressful from all sides (hello, anyone have family members who think they’re going crazy?). Thanks for putting it calmly! :) 

  • Great post. For cleaning the air can also grow some air purifying indoor plants. Check out this fascinating video I still needs to get on it.

    • I have seen that video before. It’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. ;)

  • Love these green cleaning tips! I do pretty well, but one thing I want to change is keeping more indoor plants alive and convincing the husband to switch toothpastes (I already use a good one).

  • Northern Ontario Mom

    You had some great suggestions in your post.  I wish I had known about wool dryer balls before I bought my dryer balls (Nellie’s Dryer Balls).  They work well, and are PVC-free, but I would have preferred using something made of a more natural material.  As for laundry soap, I make my own from a pin I saw on Pinterest by grating a bar of Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap with Washing Soda, Borax and water (  It works really well and is very cheap.  There are so many options out there, I hope more people turn away from the supermarket laundry soap isle and find safer alternatives.

    Northern Ontario Mom

    • Northern Ontario Mom

      “Aisle”, not “isle.”

  • Jackiejamison

    Another thing I’ve been thinking about is not just finding better products, but using LESS of the products I do use.  I know it’s easy to use too much laundry detergent, and use fewer personal care products too.

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  • I just recently really started trying to add more plants to my home like Mike.  I also think it is a good idea to figure out how to properly dispose of old toxic chemicals but finding how to do that can be challenging.

  • Sue Sawhill Apito

    I am getting back into making my own household cleaners and wanted to make sure I was using the best possible containers. I’ll reuse some existing spray bottles – but I was so impressed with this company that I actually joined as an  Affiliate!  The bottles are BPA free and use up to 25% recycled plastic milk containers (HDPE).

  • Thanks for the toothpaste recommendation! I haven’t tried that one yet.

  • Proudmuslima64

    there is a product used by Muslims for over 1400 years for your teeth. It is called a “miswak”. It is the branch of a tree that you cut and chew on the end to make the fibers open up.  It has anti-bacterial properties and it helps to heal gum disease and bleeding gums. I am diabetic, and I use to have bleeding gums.  After using the miswak for a few days my gums stopped bleeding and are healthy again.  I have been using it for over 4 years now. I don’t use a toothbrush or toothpaste, only the miswak.  Recently I went to the dentist for a check up and cleaning and he asked me when was the last time I had my teeth cleaned because I had no plaque build up or staining from coffee or tea?  I told him 4 years ago!  He was amazed and asked to see my miswak stick. Which by the way, I carry with me at all times.  Makes it so easy to clean your teeth after a meal or just when you want to freshen up.. Check it out on Google or Amazon…Have a great day!!!

  • Natur690

    Hi, wonderful blog!
    I would like to add that air fresheners sold out there should also not be used. These consist of chemicals and should not be spray into the air. They are not harmless while breathed in. They “freshen” the air same way as softeners leave your clothes smell “fresh”.

  • Anonymous

    A little vinegar in the rinse cycle is a great fabric softener for your clothes. I’ve only stopped using it as I’ve been using soap nuts the last few months, with great results. I also avoid the air conditioner in favour of bowls of water near open windows. Shells make it a great water feature. The mattresses and pillows make regular trips to the trampoline to get a good airing and lots of hot sun.
    Wondering if anyone has heard of Ecogenie Balls. A flyer came today describing them as having”100s of ceramic spheres that change the surface tension of the water activating water molecules, and breaking apart dirt and grime from deep inside the weave of the fabric”.

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  • Maria

    My favorite green cleaning solution for air fresheners was to boil a pot of water with cinnamon sticks, citrus peels and cloves on the stove. In no time the whole house is smelling heavenly!