Making the Switch to Eco-Friendly Cleaners

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I truly admire people who have gone completely green. You know, those that can easily forego the chemical products that we don’t realize are all around us…those that eat completely organic…those that understand where every fiber from their clothing is made. The reality is that change takes time. And even people who live a completely eco lifestyle endured a process to get to a place where they could understand the implications of using harmful products and then figure out alternatives to live more consciously.

While I want to arrive at that place (and hopefully will one day), I know these changes won’t happen for me overnight. Like any change in life, I believe going green is a slow, yet steady journey. It means implementing small changes to make a larger meaningful impact in your life.

My Girls Inspired Me to Switch to Eco-Friendly Cleaners

For me, this started when my older daughter developed an itchy rash due to our soap. After some research, I discovered a new mild soap that, coupled with dietary changes, cleared up the rash within months. It was only then that I understood how product, specifically those containing fragrances and sodium laurel (a chemical used to improve lather), could negatively impact my family. It was also only then that I realized I was bringing something into my home that was causing harm to my children.

Although I’m more aware of what I buy, I know I can do better for my family. Most recently I realized certain changes needed to be made in the way we cleaned our home. With a four-year old and a 14-month-old baby, I find myself constantly cleaning –food on the floor to random messes happen daily. It’s annoying, but it’s also a way of life with small children. At night, my husband and I spilt up the chores where I make dinner and he cleans. It works for me because I hate cleaning and he’s meticulous about it. However, every single night as I dried my girls off from their baths and got them ready for bed, I’d hear this awful sound. The spraying of lemon-scented furniture polish on our countertops.

These seemingly innocent cleaners that we’ve used for years started to get to me. The smell is nauseating, and I now know that they’re laden with chemicals and toxins that I don’t want my girls (nor my husband or myself) to be ingesting every single day. I snapped when I saw my husband spray one of the cleaners right next to my daughter’s lunchbox.

I swore off the cleaners we knew and loved, but he was reluctant to make changes. I explained how using conventional cleaners was causing damage to our children and polluting the air we breathe. While he understood this and knew we could do better, he still didn’t think they could stack up to the cleaners we had used for years.

So, I searched the Internet for eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives. I oddly felt excited as I learned about the natural choices available to me. Such a simple change that meant so much to the health of my family—and all that it required was giving it a try. My husband even remarked at how much he loved using them and how he didn’t even realize how strong the other cleaners were until we made the switch.

For about a month we’ve used eco-friendly cleaners. I see no reason to ever go back to conventional cleaners, and now that we made this easy change it even seems strange that we once used products loaded with chemicals. But, like any change, once it’s important to you (and makes sense), you can comfortably look back at your old habits, realize that you’ve moved forward, and will never be stuck in the same way of living again.

~ Serena Norr of Mama Goes Natural

A Brooklyn-based writer and mom of two, Serena Norr believes living naturally doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Serena also serves the managing editor of Momtrends and the creator of Seriously Soupy, a Web site devoted to soup making. She loves to cook, travel, explore the city with her kids and learn more about green living, which she chronicles in her blog, Mama Goes Natural. Follow her on Twitter as @MamaGoesNatural.


  1. avatar
    shari brooks

    have yet to really go there. The eco-friendly cleaners I’ve used in the past didn’t seem to work as well….. can you recommend ones that you’ve used and liked?

    • avatar

      Hi Shari,
      Christopher Gavigan’s book Healthy Child Healthy World offers a lot of information about eco-friendly cleaners, and, if you haven’t tried our Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner, it’s very effective at getting off the everyday grime, goop, and sticky stuff. My husband swears by it.

  2. avatar
    Erin Miranda

    I found that my own home made clears work just as well! Made with vinegar and essential oils. For anti-bacterial messes I use Seventh Generation products. Changing my cleaning products and laundry detergents was the first step I made too! My husband jokes I’m turning into a witch doctor with all my “potions”, but I feel better about what I am ingesting.

    • avatar

      I love making DIY cleaners, too. What oils do you use? Isn’t it amazing how simple the change is, but how much time it takes. We all get here when we are ready.

  3. avatar

    I have been using the Honest Multi Surface Cleaner for months now. I love it! Their laundry detergent and fabric sheets work great too. I even washed my car with the Honest Dish Soap this past week and it worked great haha. So far the only mess that I couldn’t get off with any of these was the baked on goo in my oven.

    • avatar

      Thanks so much for the glowing endorsement, Rachel! We’re so glad to hear that our cleaning products are working so well for you. Any ideas for new products you’d like to see?

  4. avatar
    Erin @ Vale Design

    I would be interested to know what specific cleaners or homemade recipes you use. Thank you 🙂 Just cleaned out our house of chemicals and just curious about other options.

  5. avatar

    What about an anti-bacterial cleaner, or what do you recommend? You all don’t currently offer one (that I know of). I need something I can use after an egg or chicken touch the counter, etc, or for cleaning the baby’s highchair.

    • avatar

      This is a great question. Antibacterial soaps and cleaners got their start in hospitals, where sterile environments must be maintained. It wasn’t until more recent years when they were marketed to consumers. And while the promise of killing a high percentage of bacteria is appealing—especially for families who want to avoid the notorious cold and flu season—these antibacterial cleaners may do more harm that good. Reportedly, antibacterial chemicals kill of good and weak bacteria and instead encourage the growth of strains that are stronger and resistant to antibiotics. Also, exposure to bacteria and germs help strengthen our immune systems and studies have found that living in too sterile of an environment has been linked to increased infection and allergies in kids. Finally, antibacterial chemicals can off-gas and be harmful if ingested through the air we breathe. The germ fighting power comes from thoroughly cleaning—even if it’s just with soap and water—not the antibacterial chemicals.

      Ultimately, it’s best to clean using non-petroleum based cleaning products, like those from Honest, or the old fashioned way with alcohol, lemon, and white vinegar. Avoid harsh and toxic antibacterial chemicals like triclosan or benzalkonium chloride as found in many antibacterial products, and opt for those that use ethyl alcohol instead. Our Multi-Surface Cleaner is great for safely and effectiviely cleaning countertops (even after touched by egg or chicken) and high chairs because the ingredients work as natural disinfectants. And our Fruit & Veggie wash works too!

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  7. avatar

    I loved this blog Serena. I’m still quite new to the eco /
    green lifestyle, and I’m still having problems making the right decisions (like
    products to use…) Because I’m still living at home, my parents and sisters
    sometimes think I’m overreacting in the choices I make or things I say. But
    I’ve been reading lots of articles and I recently got the book of Christopher
    Gavigan ‘Healthy Child, Healthy World’. And that opened a new world to me. Lots
    of information and I still have lots to learn. Any advice is welcome!

    I still have a long way to go, but I’m really motivated. So once I’m living on
    my own and have my own family in a few years, I will be ready.

    It’s like Serena says: “It means implementing small changes to make a
    larger meaningful impact in your life.” But I was wondering, if there
    would be one thing that you would advice everyone to do first if you want to
    change your way of living, what would it be? ‘Cause there are many things you
    can/have to change…

    Will there be a ‘sequel’ of the book of Christopher Gavigan?

    Thank you for this amazing blog, I love reading about how other people ‘start a
    new and healthy life’.

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