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Cleaning With Safer Alternatives

As a mom, the duty of cleaning the house feels like it never stops, especially with little ones around. It can be overwhelming and just exhausting if you are drowning in your stuff.

Check out my post about how we decluttered and it really transformed our cleaning routine and gave us our time back!

Read more here: Why Decluttering Is Essential for Your Family

It is that time a year again where we get all excited to deep clean our house for spring. Every spring I get the urge to declutter and simplify our home even more. Since I am pregnant and am due in June, my nesting is already kicking in!

I know here in Michigan it has been a pretty cold winter and I am so ready to open up our windows and let in the fresh air!

Maintaining a clean home is essential for the health of your family. But are you doing your spring cleaning with products that are safe? According to the American Lung Association, there are multiple household chemicals that actually do harm to our health in the products that most families have trusted for years.

Cleaning chemicals such as air fresheners, bleach, detergents, and dishwashing liquid, dryer sheets, and floor polish all potentially have chemicals that are harmful to you and your families current and long term health.

When we purchase a product we are more concerned about the results that we receive from the product but forget to think about what is actually in it.

Currently, we are in a health epidemic where there are more reported diseases and allergies than ever before. Especially with young children.

Not to mention the hormonal imbalances and fertility issues that so many are facing and don’t have answers to why it is happening.

So before you begin your cleaning, ask yourself do you know what is in the product you are using?

Have you researched it to see if it is safe to use?

Yes, it may sound a little crazy at first, but why should we assume that these big-name companies have our best interest as their primary intention? I know I don’t believe that anymore.

non-toxic cleaning products

I started being more selective on the products I brought into my house about a year ago because I had discovered some information on brands that my family had trusted for years.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of chemicals that make up fragrances are toxic to us! Now think of everything that you use that lists “fragrance” on their ingredient list.

It is in just about everything you use! I know it was for use because I love our home and our clothes smelling amazing.

The companies do not legally have to disclose what is considered “fragrances” since it is a trademark of the company. So we, the consumers, are left blind to what we are putting in our homes and on our body and reaping the consequences.

To be honest, I never put much thought into all of this until I had my daughter. I always went along trusting what the brands advertised. But my Mama instinct wanted me to look a little further into what we were using.

I suggest you take a closer look to see what is really in your products.

Time To Go Natural

I discovered EWG, Environmental Working Group, a non-profit group that works towards making the environment a healthier place so we too can enjoy healthier lives. EWG lists out the ingredients that are in the products we buy and rates the toxicity level and how it is harmful to our health.

Having EWG as a tool to refer to when in search of new products has been helpful with eliminating the majority of the nasty chemicals from our lives.

Now at first, this can be a bit time consuming because you have to do the research to find what products you feel comfortable having in your home.

But the peace of mind that you are providing your family with safe products is worth it!

Our family is on a tighter budget so we are looking for budget-friendly products that are safe for our health to help us maintain a clean home.

Check out my current favorites below.

Laundry Care

The first thing I took a look at was our laundry detergent since we all have very sensitive skin and have had issues with rashes. Your laundry detergent is such a big deal because your clothes and bedding are against your skin constantly.

Which means your skin, your body’s largest organ is absorbing those chemicals all day and all night long!

We typically used Tide or Gain because I was in love with the smell and was taught that it is the best cleaner out there.

Now I am not saying it doesn’t do its job, but there is more than just a monetary cost to using this product.

According to EWG, Tide and Gain are rated an F for their toxicity levels meaning that the substances in the product have the potential to cause developmental & reproductive issues, and asthma & respiratory issues, and even cancer. Even Tide’s Free & Gentle solution was rated an F.

Safer alternatives for laundry care that I have found effective are Biokleen, Attitude and Seventh Generation Packs. All of these products are considered an A in safety according to the EWG.


BioKleen Citrus Fresh $26.99


Attitude Nature & Hypoallergenic Pink Grapefruit $15.67


Seventh Generation Laundry Packs $25.99


Attitude Sensitive Skin Natural Stain Remover $6

This stain remover is perfect if you have little ones around! There is no doubt that laundry gets to be a little more fun when you have kids, especially when they are first learning how to self-feed.

You need a stain remover that keeps the clothes looking like new but still gentle on the skin.

Get your bottle of Attitude Sensitive Skin Natural Stain Remover here

Since they are natural cleaners, they tend to be much more concentrated which means a little product will go a long way.

Instead of using bleach I have transitioned to using 1 cup of baking soda in my whites and towels. If the clothes are very dirty I will allow them to soak for a few hours prior. Baking soda is also considered a category A in safety as well. And my house does not smell like bleach for the day!

Fabric softener can be substituted for white distilled vinegar and will have the same softening effect on your clothes. (Also rated an A!) Vinegar helps keep clothes looking bright and bold instead of becoming faded over time. Not to mention the vinegar is good to clean out your washer and keeping it fresh smelling!

Now for dryer sheets, I have substituted Wool Dryer balls that I put about 3-4 drops of Lemon or Lime Essential Oil for a refreshing smell.

It is recommended to allow the oil to dry for about an hour on the balls before throwing it into the dryer. So when you go to throw your clothes in the wash, prep your dryer balls so they are ready to go!

Wool dryer balls are effective for removing static and cutting down on dry time.

Get a 6 pack of organic wool dryer balls here for $12.79.

The hardest part about switching up our laundry care was losing all of the fragrant smells that are clothes once had. I really loved smelling our clothes after using mainstream products, especially those yummy smelling fabric softeners!

But companies know most people buy based on their senses and that is why those products are designed to smell like that.

After getting accustomed to the light smell of the essential oils I can appreciate how clean our clothes are at no cost to our health or skin.

Bathroom Cleaner

I don’t know about you guys, but I need to know my bathroom is clean. It is one area of the house that really grosses me out if we don’t clean it weekly.

There are so much bacteria found in our bathrooms that it took me a while to switch over to natural cleaners for the fear of them not cleaning as thoroughly.

But knowing how dangerous the fumes of harsh cleaners are really motivated me to find better alternatives.

Currently, we are using Mrs. Meyers Tub & Tile Cleaner for removing all soap scum and I have been very impressed with the results!

Plus this cleaner leaves a refreshing and clean lemon scent behind from the essential oils in it. And it is rated a category B!


Get Mrs. Meyers Tub & Tile Cleaner here for $5.49

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Selecting a natural toilet bowl cleaner was difficult because for the longest time I trusted Clorox Toilet Bowl cleaner that contained bleach so I knew all of those nasty germs were gone. However, Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner is safe and effective for cleaning our bathroom to my standards.

Check out Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner here for $15.83

Glass & Window

For our Glass and Mirrors, we use Method Glass & Multi-Surface Cleaner, considered a category B product.

I love this product because I can finally clean our mirrors and windows without getting a headache while cleaning! Some reviews say that it leaves streaks behind, but I honestly haven’t had that problem with this product.

I have linked it here with Amazon but honestly, it is a lot cheaper for this product at your local Target.

Windex always upset my stomach and gave me a headache when I would use it, which makes sense because it is rated a category D product under the EWG

Dish Soap

Do you ever wash your dishes and feel that it tastes like soap? Yup, I have. It’s gross. And at first, I didn’t think much other than “Gee I didn’t rinse that well”

But what is actually happening is that the dish soap is leaving soap residue on your dishes causing you to taste it. Which means along with those delicious nutrients you are eating those nasty soap chemicals.

I mainly observed this in our daughter’s bottles and our plastic water bottles which was very concerning since she was so young. When this happened I googled the soap that I currently was using and turns out I wasn’t alone.

So the hunt for a better dish soap started and research continued. I went back and forth purchasing Method and Seventh Generation dish soap for our hand washed dishes. Unfortunately, I have recently noticed that I taste the soap residue from the Method dish soap as well so I do not plan on rebuying that product again.

I have had my eye on Puracy Natural Dish Soap for a while as this brand is a very respectable brand with raving reviews and will be switching to this product. It is also considered a category A product.

Check out Puracy Natural Dish Soap’s awesome reviews here.

Now for our dishwashing machine soap, we switched to Seventh Generation Powder about 4 months ago. I decided I no longer wanted the plastic packs that melted away in our dishwasher.

I wanted to go back to the basics and just pour the powder in our soap compartment.

This powder cleans our dishes leaving no grime behind!

I do have to say that we thoroughly rinse our dishes before putting them in so I can not advise how well it cleans on dishes that still have a lot of food on them. Therefore, I will not make that promise like all of those commercials do!

Get it here.

Trying to figure all of this out while continuing on with everyday responsibilities can seem a bit much at first. Especially if you have never heard of any of these brands before or the EWG Database.

Puracy offers a whole natural cleaning set to get you started which I highly recommend if you are short on time and just want to get those other nasty chemicals out of your house. It simplifies the process of trying to keep up what product you buy with what brand.

Get Your Puracy Natural Home Cleaning Set for $39.99 here.

Unfortunately, I opted to go the difficult route at first because I was unsure how far I was going to take the natural route in our home. But now with baby number two coming, I am looking to simplify Mama’s life as much as possible, especially our cleaning routine!

I hope to one day be able to switch to mostly DIY Cleaners and will update you guys when I finally set aside time to make them!

If you have any experience with DIY Recipes please let me know in the comments below!

For now, these products are much safer than what we used to be using and help us maintain a nice clean home.

One way to eliminate toxins and odors from your house is to get some houseplants around. Looking for new plant ideas to spruce up your house this spring?

Check out my post on Toddler & Cat-Friendly Houseplants. I evenAir Purifying Houseplants provide you with a free printable of the scientific names to make shopping a breeze!

Read more here. 21 Cat & Toddler Friendly Indoor Plants

 

Categories
Everything Home

Why Decluttering Is Essential for Your Family

Do you ever feel like you just cleaned the ENTIRE house to find it destroyed an hour later?

Yup, I know that feeling. Especially with having little ones around that does not fully understand the concept of “clean up” it can become extremely frustrating. Not only do we have a toddler, but we also have a 3-year-old Wheaton Terrier that loves all her toys around the house! Seriously, when you go to put the toys in her bucket, she will decide she wants them ALL out now!

So what is the trick to keeping a tidy home?

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Easy answer: Hire a cleaning service!

Realistic answer: GET RID OF SOME STUFF

I am willing to bet that you probably have more STUFF than you actually NEED.

In fact, I KNOW that you do! Because as I am writing this I am thinking, you know so do we! Unless you have simplified your stuff to only the ESSENTIALS we all have stuff that can be eliminated.

Essentials are the objects that we absolutely cannot live without. Bed, toiletries, food, some kitchen appliances, some clothes etc. Now before you start getting all anxious that I am saying to get rid of all of your stuff let’s just think about it.

The more stuff that fills your home, the more you have to take care of. You are responsible for organizing, maintaining it, and paying for the space that the object takes up in your home.

Don’t you have enough responsibilities as it is? Why add more to your workload Mama?

How many objects do you have lying around somewhere just because you haven’t gotten to them? Not sure where to put them? Not sure why you bought them in the first place? Maybe an impulse buy? Maybe you received it as a gift and feel guilty getting rid of it?

You hate to throw it away because that is money you wasted. But you are wasting space, energy, and peace of mind by allowing your life to be controlled by STUFF!

Let me tell you a quick story…

My husband and I have moved every single year for the past 4 years. I know it sounds crazy, and looking back at it, I can’t believe we moved that much. As you can tell our lives were pretty hectic and we didn’t really have a solid plan.

During that time, we had our daughter and accumulated a lot of stuff. Like a lot. When we did our last move it took a 17′ U-haul truck on top of several carloads and we still had crap in our storage unit. That is insane! Two 24-year-olds and an 18-month-old had that much stuff!

Thankfully, around this time I had found The Minimalists podcast and was introduced to the buzzword Minimalism. It opened my eyes to the fact that all of the stuff that I was going into debt to buy could be doing more harm than I ever thought about.

Number One Trick To A Tidy Home

I was intrigued by the idea that eliminating the excess stuff could potentially allow for a much freer life.

So, as we unpacked our belongings I asked myself if I found value and joy in each item. At times, it was difficult for me to be honest with myself and I established a pile of “not ready to part with items”. We ended up donating about half of our belongings.

And it felt amazing! It almost became addicting where I didn’t want to stop getting rid of stuff.

Now to me, minimalism means decluttering down to only what truly matters. Because in order to not find yourself swamped with stuff 2 months later, you have to make a drastic change and eliminate the excess.

I continue to walk around the house questioning everything we own to see what I can part with. Because it is a process that is never done. We are continually adding new things into our home whether it is by our choice or family and friends. About every month we make a trip to the Salvation Army to donate what no longer serves us.

I will not say that we are strict minimalists because that would be a lie. I still go to target and have impulse buys once in a while. However, it may be an item here or there, not ten in one shopping trip.

Minimalism has opened my eyes to what my true values are in life. God, family, and the freedom of my time. It has taught me that being intentional is so rare nowadays but it is crucial to living a meaningful life.

I do not believe that living a decluttered life means that you deprive yourself of stuff. It means that you only allow room in your life for all of your favorites. Instead of having a closet full of clothes that don’t really fit you that well but they were on sale so you bought them, you have a closet full of all the clothes that you absolutely love and make you feel amazing!

So what happens if you decide it’s time to get rid of some stuff?

The less stuff you have to clean the more TIME you will have. Time to focus on the important things in life like playing with your children or spending quality time with your husband.

The less stuff you have the more SPACE you will have. Space to find the peace and calm that is in your home.

The less stuff you buy the more MONEY you will have. Save that money for a vacation that you and your family deserve! Or retirement, that so many of us forget to prepare for.

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Your Challenge 

I challenge you to pick a room and let go of some stuff. Make a pile to donate, to sell, and to throw away. Even if you only get a bag for each category, that is three bags of stuff you are letting go of now.

Lightening your load of responsibilities will allow for the important moments to shine through and everyday tasks will be more enjoyable.

Remember, a happier mama can change the tone of the entire family!

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Everything Home

21 Cat & Toddler Friendly Indoor Plants

Are you thinking of adding some new plants to the house but are hesitant because of toddlers or cats?

I had been wanting to add house plants around our apartment but I was scared that

1) I would kill them

2) our cat would eat them

3) Melina would not leave them alone! (we have a very curious 2-year-old!)

I really, REALLY wanted indoor plants to clean our air (we live in a new apartment that was recently painted) and to make our surroundings more peaceful and tranquil.

I recently read on the EPA that the air inside our homes and workplaces are significantly dirtier than the air outside. Some studies say that it can be about ten times as bad as the outside air and the majority of us spend 90% of our time indoors. You might want to pick up a plant for your office while you’re at it!

I took the leap and added some plants to our apartment! Finally! After debating for like 4 months!

Shopping for house plants while having a cat can be a pain! I felt like every plant that I really liked was toxic to my little furry friend.

Also, make sure you have the list of indoor plants that you are specifically looking for child watering indoor plantbecause I found that most of the employees at the nursery’s that I browsed did not know which plants were cat-friendly. After spending over an hour at English Gardens we had found some that we were excited to take home.

At least I was excited about taking them home and re-potting them in my cute pots that took me forever to pick out. My husband had the “I’m ready to leave eyes” as my 18-month-old daughter was having another tantrum.

All that mattered is that we got some plants and Mama was very happy!

Here’s our list of the 4 houseplants that have survived cat munchies and toddler pickings the past 6 months!

Bamboo Palm

We luckily found this one on clearance at English Gardens! It was a larger plant which is what we wanted for our family room.

Bamboo Palms survive in shade and requires moderate watering, allowing the soil to dry in between watering. Bamboo Palms are known for their air purifying qualities. Filtering out toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene.

Money Tree

What a cute little tree! When I first saw it I couldn’t wait to find out if it was non-toxic for animals, which it is! This tree is the perfect addition to our bedroom.

Not only is it supposed to bring good fortune(who wouldn’t want that?) but it is also one of the easiest indoor plants to maintain. For mamas that have enough to worry about this is a good plant to have and not be concerned that you are going to kill it.

It can survive in indirect light as well and most likely cannot be killed from overwatering which is common!

Spider Plant

This is a beautiful plant but honestly, I hate the name! I debated whether or not getting it because the name just threw me off (yes I am silly like that).

But I really enjoy the beautiful two-toned leaves that sprout from the plant.

This is another plant that is easy to care for enjoying indirect light and moderate watering.

Spider plants are known to filter out toxins like Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene, and Carbon Monoxide!

I can tolerate the name of the plant to improve our air quality!

Bromeliad

I have never seen Bromeliads before shopping for nontoxic plants. These plants offer unique style into the home and adding a pop of color. We went with a Scarlet Star Plant that has a deep pink color in its flower and we love it on our dining table!

Bromeliads require indirect light with moderate watering as well. They enjoy humid conditions so it is helpful to mist the leaves every couple of days. These plants only bloom once and last for about 5 months but provide offsets that can be propagated.

 

Obviously, there are more plants out there that are cat-friendly and strong enough to handle a toddler touching it. I hope to continue to add more indoor plants to our living space because it really has made a difference in our environment. Being a pretty anxious person, I find peace in seeing beautiful plants around that make me feel our environment is soothing and serene.

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Other purifying indoor plants that are safe for toddlers, cats, and dogs:

  • Boston Fern
  • Blue Echeveria
  • African Violet
  • Baby Rubber Plant (Safe alternative to the original Rubber Plant that is toxic)
  • Baby’s Tears Fern
  • Swedish Ivy
  • Prayer Pant
  • Wax Plant
  • Areca Palm
  • Parlour Palm
  • Burro’s Tail
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Cast-Iron Plant
  • Phalaenopsis Orchids
  • Barberton Daisy (It can flower any time of year lasting 4-6 weeks)
  • Friendship Plant
  • Basil

Air Purifying Houseplants

Plant Tips:

  • Do not over water them! I learned the hard way and had little bugs flying around because I over watered the plants allowing there to be too much moisture which resulted in fungus growing. I just didn’t want them to die…oops!
  • If you do have little bugs or mold growing in your plant; sprinkler cinnamon on the leaves and soil. This will help kill off the gnats and prevent future fungus.
  • Rotate plants so that they evenly grow. I noticed my money tree leaning towards the window after not rotating it for about a month. Now I make it a habit to turn it slightly when I water.
  • If you live in a climate with cold winter months, make sure you are misting your tropical plants and running a humidifier often to provide moisture back into the air. RUnning the furnace nonstop drys out the air, making it difficult for those house plants to thrive.
  • Remember to fertilize your indoor plants about every six weeks for optimal growth. If you do have pets, try to bury your fertilizer in the soil a few inches so they cannot easily eat it or put the plants somewhere non-accessible for a few days. I have a natural fertilizer that we use that smells a bit fishy and the animals go crazy for it.
  • If you want plants that are toxic to animals or very sensitive to little hands, remember that you can always place them on high shelves or hang them from the ceiling.