There’s nothing like a good spring cleaning to refresh your home after a long winter and many months of without fresh air. Many feel the only way to get a really good clean is with strong, toxic chemicals that kill everything. While destroying every living organism may make you feel safer, it is important to remember that there is a downside to all of the chemicals that we use.

  • Chemicals found in cleaners are not safe and they add pollutants to your home.
  • According to the EPA, levels of pollutants in indoor air can be 2-100 times higher than outdoors. Much of this comes from chemicals in cleaners.
  • Asthma is on the rise, and children regularly exposed to “acceptable levels” of cleaning solvents are four times likely to develop asthma than those who are not.
  • These chemicals are also dangerous for pets, whether they breathe them in or accidently consume them.
  • Approximately 500,000 tons of liquid cleaners go down US drains each year and pollute our waters.
  • Companies are not required to list ingredients for cleaning products.
  • Less than 20% of products are tested for safety.

There are a lot of chemical ingredients to watch out for, but many found in common household cleaners include ammonia, triclosan, perchlorethylene, chlorine, nitrobenzene, formaldehyde, bleach, and phosphates.

But clean doesn’t have to mean harsh. Before heading out to buy supplies, check your cupboards for some of these everyday items that are safe, natural, effective and, best of all, cheap.

Baking soda: Chances are you keep baking soda around the house. It’s great for all-purpose cleaning because it disinfects, deodorizes and removes stains.

Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is a grease-cutter, a stain remover, a natural disinfectant and works to soften water, too.

Lemons/Lemon juice: Try juicing a lemon to remove grease, disinfect, remove stains and to replace bleach. Throw the lemon rind into the garbage disposal for a natural freshener.

Salt: Salt can replace cleanser because it works as an abrasive. Try it on stubborn sink stains.

Borax: Found in the laundry detergent aisle, this mineral is a bleach alternative. It strengthens the effectiveness of soap, deodorizes, disinfects, and kills mold and bacteria. Note that although Borax is natural, it is still toxic to pets and children, and it is rough on skin. Wear gloves when handling the substance.

Liquid Soap (Castile or Murphy’s Oil Soap): Made from vegetable and hemp oils, it has no animal fats, is organic and all natural. Due to its super concentrated properties, one bottle of soap goes a long way, which cuts down on the use of plastic bottles. Castile soap is a type of soap made exclusively from vegetable oil rather than animal fats or synthetics. Great as a clothing detergent too.
Essential oils: Lavender, lemon, rosemary, peppermint, grapefruit and tea tree oils are great for adding a bit of fragrance to your homemade cleaning solutions. They also have disinfectant properties. Thieves oil is also a strong natural disinfectant, and there are a line of cleaners that use this essential oil blend as the main ingredient.

Hydrogen peroxide: It’s not just for scrapes and cuts. Use it to disinfect countertops or to clean bathrooms. You can add an equal part of water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a pleasing scent. Keep this one out of children’s reach.

Here are a few recipes for cleaning solutions.

All-purpose cleaner #1: Mix 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water to fill a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil, or a tablespoon of lemon juice. Use to clean countertops, bathrooms and sealed floors or other sealed surfaces.

All-purpose cleaner #2: Mix 1/8 cup of baking soda in a quart of warm water. Add a few drops of lemon or lavender oil if desired.

Soft Scrub: ½ cup baking soda, add enough liquid soap to make it frosting-like consistency, add 5 drops of antibacterial essential oil, mix together. Use with a cloth, rinse when finished.

Glass cleaner: Vinegar — either straight or mixed with an equal amount of water — is a good substitute for standard glass cleaner. Rubbing alcohol works, too. Adding a few drops of lemon oil works great too.

Natural “Goo Gone”: To remove gooey things off of windows, sticker or tape residue, or other substances like that, add a couple drops of pure lemon oil to the area, let soak in, then scrape or wash off. Works great.

Wood cleaner: A teaspoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of olive oil and about a cup of warm water will work well here.

Furniture polish: ½ tsp jojoba oil, ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice.

Oven cleaner: Use a couple tablespoons of baking soda topped with an equal amount of liquid soap. This mixture works well on the inside of an oven. Wipe clean with a wet rag dipped in some vinegar to prevent streaks on metal or stainless steel. Salt with a few drops of water also will treat stubborn oven stains.

Clean a microwave: Cut up a lemon and put into a bowl of water. Heat in microwave for 3-5 minutes. Wipe **Tip: use lemon juice when you make a cleaner, heat lemon to clean microwave, then dispose in garbage disposal to freshen that as well! 3 in 1!

Toilet bowl cleaner: Pour 1 cup Borax into toilet before you go to bed. The next morning, clean with a toilet brush.

To get rid of odors, make your own natural air freshener spray with essential oils. Simply mix 10 drops of your favorite oil (lemon or lavender are my favorites) with water or grain alcohol in a spray bottle, and use as desired. Also works great pillows and bed sheets, or a car freshener.

In the laundry room, baking soda is a great boost to detergent because it deep-cleans clothes and removes stains. Cornstarch absorbs oil and grease, so it’s a good thing to try before resorting to harsh stain removers. Borax will improve detergent’s cleaning power and can be used in place of bleach. Laundry nuts are also a wonderful detergent alternative, and wool dryer balls can replace toxic dryer sheets.

Whatever you decide, just know that there are alternatives to dangerous and expensive chemicals. You can easily and safely improve the health of your family, pets and the environment. And most importantly, have fun with it! These are easy to make, fun to use and they smell great!

About the Author

Dr. Brenda Trudell is a chiropractor and owner of New Beginnings Chiropractic in Mount Horeb, WI. The clinic focuses on natural health, especially for women, pregnancy and children through chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, fitness, nutrition, essential oils, and more. As a female chiropractor, she understands the special circumstances surrounding women's health. Men and women are not created equal, and it is important to acknowledge that in the healthcare world. She strives to find the most current healthcare information to help all of her patients.

Dr. Trudell is available to present to groups on many different topics. Please contact the office for details or with any questions. Dr. Trudell is certified in the Webster Technique. For more information, visit or email at