Declutter and detox your home

Somehow the coming of spring conjures urges of cleaning and organizing. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about the food you put inside your body; it is also about the items in your environment. Some of the most toxic things in our home are household cleaners. They are filled with chemicals that are harmful to our bodies—phthalates, perchloroethylene, triclosan, and 2-Butoxyethanol are just a few found in fragrance cleaners, spot cleaners, dishwashing soap, and surface cleaning solutions.

According to the Environmental Working Group (, mainstream cleaning products contain fumes and ingredients that can lead to asthma, cancer, and other ailments. Ask yourself, If I can’t pronounce it, should I be putting it in my environment? Even those “green” household cleaners available in our local stores aren’t always what they seem. They sometimes contain harmful chemicals within their ingredients list but are labeled to make you feel as though they are safer. There are products out there that are safer for you, your loved ones, and your home. But are any of them 100 percent all-natural, organic, gluten-free, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free…?

The short answer: No. The long answer? It depends.


Indoor air has far more pollutants than most outside air. Our furniture, water, and cooking all put compounds in the air that we’re better off not breathing. Letting fresh air into your home as soon as weather permits will clear the air and help you breathe better.

Clear the clutter

Choose an area with clutter that annoys you and tackle with it an eye to getting of rid things you don’t need, use, or want. A trip to donate your unwanted stuff to your local thrift shop can be another satisfying ritual of spring cleaning. Then enjoy your de-cluttered home and the extra time you’ll enjoy not having to manage the mess.

Gather non-toxic cleaners

Many cleaning projects—floors, surfaces, and windows—can be handled with a simple solution of vinegar and water. For extra cleaning power plus a pleasant scent, add essential oils like lemon or orange. Castile soap and baking soda help with most scrubbing projects. There’s also no shortage of recipes for homemade cleaners made from nontoxic ingredients you probably already have on hand.

See the recipes included on this page. If you lack time and prefer to purchase pre-made cleaners, choose nontoxic versions. Plant-based cleaners meant for windows, wood, or surfaces let you enjoy a sparkling clean house without the harmful chemicals. These are ideal for cleaning wood, porcelain, and stainless steel.

Use reusable cloths and tools

You don’t need rolls of paper towels to accomplish your cleaning tasks. Most can be handled with rags made from clothes that are no longer wearable. Use a mop with a washable pad rather than relying on throwaways. Save old toothbrushes for removing crud from cracks and crevices. For removing the grime that accumulates on windows, try using newspaper, which you can compost when you’re done.

Non-toxic cleaning recipes
  • All-Purpose Cleaner: Combine one part white vinegar with four parts water in a spray bottle.
  • Glass and Window Cleaner: Use two teaspoons vinegar in a quart of water.
  • Scrubbing Paste: Mix baking soda with a little water and soap to make a scrub for tubs, sinks, and pots.