As the saying goes, “change doesn’t happen overnight,” and I’ve certainly found this to be true when it comes to cleaning up our household. It’s an ongoing process, and while we are far from perfect I’m proud of the swaps we’ve made through the years to make our home healthier, more sustainable, and less toxic.
Here are a few of the changes we’ve made. (I’d also love to hear from you on ways you’ve cleaned up your home, too! There’s always more to learn and share on this topic.)
Oh, and one more thing: I mention the Environmental Working Group (EWG) often in this post. They’re a great resource for determining the safety of products ranging from home cleaners to personal care. I appreciate that they’ve done the legwork to help us make safer choices — and to get past the greenwashing many brands use to make us thing products are safer than they actually are.
Okay, let’s get to those changes:
- Food Storage: In order to cut down on things like Ziploc bags and Saran wrap, we’ve invested in some reusable alternatives that have worked great — and leave us feeling good about the reduced waste. To cover food, Bees Wrap is wonderful. It comes in beautiful patterns and multiple sizes, and can easily be washed with soap and water and reused for up to a year. To replace Ziploc bags, we love Stasher Bags, which are made of silicone (making them safer as well as more sustainable) and can easily be washed in the dishwasher. We’ve also loved these reusable zipper snack bags for Maggie, which I clean by just throwing them into the washing machine!
- Paper Products: This one seems so simple, but it took learning new habits at our house. I’m happy to say that at this point we all do a great job of using far fewer paper towels and paper napkins. We’ve replaced all paper napkins in our napkin holder with cloth ones, and so using those has now become the norm. When we clean, we’re now reaching for dishtowels far more often than paper towels.
- Laundry Detergent: I think it’s common to worry that you won’t get the clean clothes you’re used to when you switch to cleaner detergent and stain-fighting options, but I’ve found that many safer brands can also perform just as well as the conventional products you’re used to. I love Better Life’s concentrated lavender grapefruit laundry detergent (which Environmental Working Group gave an A rating) for washing clothes. Two bonuses: 1) it smells amazing 2) because it’s concentrated, it comes in a small bottle but lasts for 64 washes!
- Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softener: These products, as it turns out, are definitely worth replacing. I know, I know — they make your clothes smell SO good, not to mention dry quicker and with less static and fewer wrinkles. But the Environmental Working Group gave 83% of the fabric softeners they tested either a D or F rating — yikes! We’ve loved using wool dryer balls instead, and you can even add a bit of essential oil to bring the scent of your choice to your clothes, too.
- Dish Soap & Dishwasher Detergent: We’re using this stuff all the time to clean the dishes we eat off of and pots and pans we prep our meals in, so it’s important that it’s made of good stuff. I also use dish soap to clean my makeup brushes, so it needs to be safe. Better Life’s dish soap and dishwasher gel are my picks in this category (they get EWG As, too!).
- Household Cleaner: I’ve tried a few different options on this front, but recently landed on Force of Nature. Why? A few reasons! First, this cleaner is completely non-toxic but can combat the COVID-19 virus. YES, PLEASE. I also love that it’s incredibly multi-purpose. You can use it to clean countertops, glass, stains, fight odor, and more. I also appreciate that it doesn’t have a strong scent, so after using it a room feels and smells clean, but not in a bleach-y way it does when using traditional cleaners. Oh, you also mix up new batches every two weeks (don’t worry — it’s a VERY easy process), and it feels a bit like a science experiment. Maggie loves to help!
- Food Storage Containers: We’ve almost completely switched from plastic to glass in this category — which is important because chemicals from plastics can leech into our food. NOT what we’re going for! I also need to update some of Maggie’s dinnerware, and shared some options for safer toddler dinnerware options in this post.
- Air Freshener: Put down the Febreeze! Really…it’s not good stuff. And you can easily mix up your own air freshening concoctions using essential oil, water, and rubbing alcohol. Recipe: one Tablespoon rubbing alcohol, 30(ish) drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice (we like peppermint and lavender), and 1/2 cup of distilled water. Combine in a glass spray container and get to freshening! (We keep one in each bathroom.)
- Skincare & Makeup: Y’all know I rely on Beautycounter for this — for both Maggie and me! As a reminder of why: There’s virtually no regulation when it comes to the personal care industry (so that’s skincare, makeup, hair care, kids’ and baby products, body products, and more), and yet we’re putting these products on our largest organ every day. Choosing safe options is so important, and Beautycounter is one way to do that (since they are both creating safe, high-performing products AND advocating for stronger regulation across the board so all products will have to meet higher standards).
- Dental Health Products: I think it’s important to clean up your toothpaste and move away from the more conventional brands you may have used your whole life. I have loved using doTERRA’s toothpaste and mouthwash. They are so refreshing and leave my mouth feeling and smelling amazing! Along the same lines, Cocofloss has become my dental floss of choice. (I never thought I’d have a favorite dental floss, but here we are. It really does work SO well!)
We are by no means done with our journey to creating a cleaner, safer, more sustainable home. I would also love to update our bedding to be non-toxic, and perhaps even some furniture at some point (because yes — it can contain toxic chemicals as well!). I also want us to start taking our shoes off inside, because that keeps things like pesticides, lead, dust, and certain bacteria from making its way into our home via the soles of our shoes. (This one seems easy — just like cloth napkins versus paper ones — but is going to take the development of new habits and a shoe storage system. We’ll get there!)
All these changes take time, habit adjustments, and, in some cases, a financial investment (hello, new furniture!), so don’t beat yourself up if you take baby steps to make your home safer. Those small steps add up to big changes, helping you keep your family and the environment healthier.
What changes have you made so far in your home? What’s next on your list to tackle?