- Hannah Roberts
Have you ever picked up a bottle of your favourite cleaner and had a ping of curiosity as to what it is, exactly? You read the ingredients only to be faced with a mountain of words you can’t pronounce. Sometimes it seems like ingredient lists can be as long as your arm - for everything from food to household cleaners and beauty products.
You would think that since we use these products on a regular basis, companies would make quality and safe ingredients their top priority, right? Wrong. Unfortunately for most commercial products, this isn’t high on the priority list. Many common household cleaners contain irritants to the skin, eyes, and lungs. There is also growing research around the link between asthma and prolonged exposure to common cleaning products. There are even products on the market that contain traces of cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde…yikes.
Thankfully, there are many options (and perks!) in the world of green cleaning and we’ll be talking about this often on the blog. To start, we’ll introduce you to a few of our favourite tips and how you can start to think about ways in which you’d like to introduce more natural products to your home.
Get back to basics: A prime perk of switching to a natural cleaning routine is that many key ingredients can already be found in your kitchen or pantry – like vinegar and baking soda. A vinegar spray is as easy and cheap as it gets. Add equal parts water to equal parts vinegar to a spray bottle and you’ve got a simple and effective household cleaner. Don’t’ want your house smelling like a pickle? Add essential oils or infuse the vinegar with orange peels, lemon peels, or pine needles.
Wash it out: Have you ever wondered how the clothes you stuck at the back of the closet 6 months ago are still smelling like a fresh rose garden? You probably have your detergent or fabric softener to credit for that. A large portion of laundry detergents on the market contain a number of different chemical compounds that are harmful for the body and the environment. From the artificial fragrance to the surfactants used to clean the fabric, many of the ingredients are not ones that we want touching our skin daily.
A homemade laundry detergent can be a cheap, easy, and healthy alternative to the common liquid detergents sold at the store. One basic recipe from Mommypotamus contains:
6 cups of washing soda (different than baking soda) (can also use 3 cups washing soda / 3 cups baking soda)
3 bars of 4.5-5oz soap, finely grated with a cheese grater (Tallow soap flakes are recommended as but Kirk’s or Dr. Bronner’s castile soap work as well)
100-150 drops of essential oil
Combine ingredients in a food processer and blend until a nice powder is formed. This recipe is suitable for top loader and HE washers, with about 3 tablespoons needed for a top loader and half that amount for a HE washer.
If you’re short on time or not into DIY, the Apothecary offers an excellent liquid laundry soap in bulk! It comes from 'Down East Cleaning Products' out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Swing by with your old laundry soap jug (or pick-up up a container from our donation table) and one of our staff can help with whatever you need and answer any questions you may have.
[Apothecary tip: If you can’t find a cleaner that’s scented with natural oils, buy an unscented version – that way if you must add scent, you can add your own essential oils.]
Breathe in the good stuff:
Another common product that has the potential to cause respiratory and health issues over time is air-freshener – running the gamut of plug-ins, aerosol sprays, you name it. For cleaning manufactures, many ingredients are not required to be displayed on the label. Since fragrance is considered a “trade secret”, we really have no idea what goes into scent profiles. Air fresheners have been found to contain many VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) like formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene, just to name a few. Lucky for us, there are lots of ways to keep our home smelling fresh without polluting our indoor air.
Use essential oils: essential oils are probably the most widely used, natural air-freshener. There are many ways to utilize the power of essential oils; by adding some to an electric or clay diffuser, wax candle warmer with water, or a clothes pin attached to a vent. The options are endless when it comes to essential oils; come check out our selection of pure and essential oil blends for every preference.*
Make a room spray: here’s an easy & quick recipe from The Organically Clean Home for a lemon-y fresh room spray:
- 1 cup distilled water; ½ cup vodka; 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil.
- Add ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray as needed. (Variation, substitute lemon with a combination of lavender and peppermint!
Pick something up at the Apothecary: If you’re looking for a ready-make product, we have an in-house room spray that is formulated with your health in mind. Made with a base of distilled water, witch hazel and sea salt, it boasts a fresh scent of eucalyptus and peppermint. Time to ditch artificial fragrance for good!
When we clean our homes, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and creates a warm and welcoming space for everyone who passes though the front door. While intentions are always good, the products we use may impact our overall health without us even knowing it. Taking the time to educate ourselves on harmful ingredients lurking in our products and healthier alternatives is something that your household, and future self, will thank you for.
Keep following along, as we share product recommendations, DIY recipes, and swaps for keeping your home clean, safe and cozy.
[Disclaimer: the information provided is for general educational purposes only. The content in this article, website or any linked material is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before introducing any changes into your wellness routine.]
 Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). (rep.). Cleaning Supplies and Your Health. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health/.
 Rapinchuk, B. (2014). The Organically Clean Home. Adams Media.
 Mommypotamus. How To Make Natural Laundry Detergent (Borax-Free). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://mommypotamus.com/laundry-detergent/.
. Toxic chemicals in air fresheners lead to Indoor Air Pollution. MADE SAFE. (2021, March 29). Retrieved October 13, 2022, from https://www.madesafe.org/toxic-chemicals-in-air-fresheners/#:~:text=That's%20because%20in%20studies%20measuring,xylene%2C%20phthalates%2C%20and%20more.
 Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). (rep.). Cleaning Supplies and Your Health. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health/.  Toxic chemicals in air fresheners lead to Indoor Air Pollution. MADE SAFE. (2021, March 29). Retrieved October 13, 2022, from https://www.madesafe.org/toxic-chemicals-in-air-