You may have heard about a detoxifying diet to regain balance in the body, but how about a detox routine for your cleaning supplies? It’s hard to believe that some everyday household cleaners contain toxic materials such as formaldehyde and butane. The chemicals found in conventional cleaners range from mildly irritating to eyes and skin all the way to carcinogenic or damaging to bone marrow, the nervous system, and the liver and kidneys. In addition to being dangerous to our health, these materials are also harmful to the environment as they make their way into waterways, causing potential harm to plants and animals.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a cleaning supply Hall of Shame, which includes products containing chemicals that have been banned in many European countries. The top offenders include air fresheners, toilet and oven cleaners and laundry detergent. Whenever possible, choose “greener” varieties of these products, or consider making your own.  

Detoxifying your cleaning routine can be done inexpensively and easily, one product at a time. Below is a tool kit to get you started.

The Starter Tool Kit

  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Castile soap
  • Essential oils with antimicrobial properties, including tea tree, thyme and oregano

Herbal All Purpose Cleaner

  • 1 gallon hot water
  • ½ cup liquid Castile soap

  • 10 drops thyme essential oil

Combine all ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Shake before using.

For more DIY cleaning supplies, go to Mother Earth Living.

— By Jen Plumb, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.