I've had many people ask me for details about how I cut out the chemicals and yucky stuff from my home. I thought I'd do a series of posts on how I live my life in a non-toxic way. I'm not perfect...I haven't made all of the changes I want to yet, but I have made big strides in my life so far and hope that I can share some of the information I've gathered with you.
Here are some practical tips for living a non-toxic greener life!
In the kitchen and bathroom:
Throw out the cleaners! Buy a cheap plastic spray bottle and fill it up with half distilled vinegar and half water. Optionally, add a few drops of essential oil (lemon, oregano, orange, etc). The vinegar smell will disappear once it dries. If you'd rather purchase something at the store, I like the Method brand. However...after using Method for years and switching to vinegar, I much prefer vinegar because I think it cleans better and leaves less residue...plus it's cheaper!
Replace paper towels with cloth rags. Buy a big package somewhere like Target and put them in your drawer. Use them for everything from wiping counters to doing dishes to wiping up spills. Rotate them often (ewww, I hate dirty rags!) and wash with your load of towels a few times a week. I have two stacks of rags: One for counters and other things and one for wiping children's hands and faces. Confession: the one place I still use only paper towels...cleaning the bathroom. It's just easier to throw that yuckiness away.
Throw out the plastic! At the very least never microwave in plastic. It leaches chemicals into your food. Transfer food to a glass plate and then microwave. You can invest in a nice set of glass tupperware for about $30 (I found a wonderful set at Costco). My husband now takes these to school in his lunch every day and although he has to microwave his leftovers, I feel much better because he is microwaving them in glass instead of plastic. Even better...throw out the microwave and get a toaster oven! That's a bigger step, but warming food more slowly is less harmful than the microwave.
To clean floors: Mix a cup or so of distilled vinegar into a gallon of water and optionally add a few drops of essential oil (I like Tea Tree for this purpose). Mop as usual and see your floors sparkle! No need to worry about babies crawling around on this...it is completely non-toxic! Or, use a steam mop, like a Shark. I have a Shark and rotate using that with a regular mop (the Shark doesn't clean my tile grout very well).
To clean mirrors: Spray a mixture of distilled vinegar and water (1:1 ratio) on your mirror and wipe as normal. The mirror will appear more cloudy as you wipe, but when it is dry, it will be shining and clean without the overwhelming smell of Windex!
To clean produce: When you cannot buy Organic produce, use a spray to help remove pesticides. There are many produce sprays available to buy in stores, but you can make your own at home by combining distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle (1:1 ratio), optionally adding a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract. Spray on the produce and let sit for a few minutes, then wash well with cold water.
To clean bathtubs, showers, and toilets: Sprinkle baking soda or Borax, spray with water, and scrub. Rinse off and repeat as needed. Can also spray distilled vinegar and water mixture, then wipe.
To clean toilets: Sprinkle baking soda or Borax, squirt some Castille soap, and scrub. Let sit for a few minutes and flush.
Are you seeing a trend here? I use distilled vinegar to do just about everything around the house! When vinegar fails me, baking soda steps right in!
Easy tip: Buy two plastic bottles. Fill both with half distilled vinegar and half water. To one, add a few drops of essential oil. Use this one to spray counters, tables, and wipe mirrors. To the other, add 10-20 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract. Use this one to wash produce (cheater's tip: this one works wonderfully for counters and mirrors as well if you're too lazy to re-fill the other one, ha ha!). Keep both under the kitchen sink for easy access.
Next week: Non-toxic beauty tips