Confronting our cleaning supplies.

After that incredibly informative look into the reality of most conventional cleaning supplies, it's time to take a look at what we've got going on under the sink. Honestly, I never really thought too much about it. That’s the result of my husband, Kris, and I both being relatively passive purchasers. In most decisions (about anything) we often both say, “I don’t know. Whatever.” And usually pick the cheapest or easiest option.

Well, now is as good a time as ever to form an opinion!

So, armed with some tips from Sarah and EWG’s incredibly handy Guide to Healthy Cleaning, I set out to see how toxic our stuff really is. (Check out this post for more info on EWG and this guide.)

We’re not made of money, so I have no intention of throwing out everything and starting from scratch all at once. In the interest of being realistic, I took EWG’s rating system and came up with some guidelines for what to do about these supplies:

  • A-B rating = it’s good! keep it

  • C rating = use it up but figure out how to replace it when it runs out

  • D-F rating = throw it out and come up with a replacement as soon as possible

Seems reasonable, right? Well unfortunately, as you may have guessed, almost ALL OUR PRODUCTS GOT Ds and Fs. Yup. I can’t say I was surprised… appalled is more like it.

Of course I expected it to be bad, but there were two things I did not expect:

  1. Method dish soap got an F. (As you saw in the EWG post.)

  2. One product got a B. It was CLR. I remember being warned to stay away from it when I was a kid. I was told it was toxic and potentially dangerous. How ironic.

The thought of now not having anything to clean with was sending me into a mild panic, until I realized that it doesn’t really take that much to keep things clean.

The image above is only about 70% of our cleaning supplies, with others stashed in the bathrooms and goodness knows where else. 

SO MUCH STUFF!! Why do we have 6 different surface cleaners/disinfectants?

A simple solution of white vinegar, water, and tea tree oil can be used as a surface cleaner in the kitchen and bathroom and works pretty well. And it’s SO CHEAP!! One spray bottle of this stuff does the job of half a dozen different cleaners.

I just happened to already have tea tree oil on hand, but you can easily get this at any natural drug store, homeopathy shop, or online at a number of places including my new favorite site, Vitacost, and even Amazon. You can use almost any kind of disinfecting essential oil here (lemon, tea tree, lavender, and Thieves oil, to name a few).

While throwing the majority of our cleaning supplies (yes, I kept a few “bad” ones for now, until I can replace them) was a little unexpected, it kinda jump-started the process of getting rid of things. Which is a habit I'm trying to adopt anyway.

This is what our cabinet looks like now that we have replaced all the old stuff with the simple ingredients to make our own:

So far it looks like switching to natural cleaners is helping clean the clutter, which is becoming a recurring theme. And, from the small amount of research we’ve done so far to find replacements, it’s also cheaper. Which was somewhat unexpected.

If you are following along: Was there anything in your supply cabinet that surprised or appalled you? Was this task easier or harder than you expected?

If you are ahead of us: Do you have a favorite DIY or store-bought natural cleaner that works much better than the standard vinegar/water? I’m about to start trying out a bunch of recipes, so bring ‘em on!!