Cleaning is NOT my favorite thing. I do love a clean home, but the process getting there takes some caffeine, loud music and the right tools. When Nneka Leiba from Environmental Working Group visited my home to assess the products I was using in my film, OVERLOAD: America’s Toxic Love Story, I realized I had WAY more cleaners (and synthetic fragrances) than I actually need. With just a little research, I minimized what I use, what I spend and what goes into my body.
Since filming OVERLOAD, people often ask me what my favorite cleaning products are so I put them in a list to share with you.
Cleaners are loaded with synthetic fragrances, dyes, VOCs, phthalates, ammonia and chlorine. Touching virtually every surface we do, the chems we use in our homes – often with windows closed – enter our our bodies through both our skin and lungs. Humans attach memories and feeling to smells – we have over 300 sensors in our sniffers ready to impact our mood and stress levels simply by what we smell – but when you catch a whiff of a mulled cider plug-in fragrance, freshly-baked cookies candle or that Mountain Breeze laundry, it’s actually the process of your body taking in those synthetic chemicals. You smelling them is a sign they are entering your body – which now makes smelling anything synthetic cause me to feel dirty a heck of a lot more than it makes me feel clean.
I want a clean house AND I want it to smell good but not at the price of exposing myself to these unregulated cleaning concoctions. So I found a few things that make my home look and smell its best. It smells clean and neutral, not like a fragrance factory.
These are a few of my favorites I use all the time
Seventh Generation disinfectant (bathroom or surface) – This product has become the most prize cleaner in the house since COVID-19 came on the scene. The EPA has listed its active ingredient Thymol as killing 99% of bacteria and viruses including COVID. I have a bottle in the car, by the door, in my bathrooms and kitchen. If you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is my version of the dad’s (very toxic) Windex. It has a great lemongrass scent which will surely give me flashbacks for the rest of my life to now when I am going through a bottle every 4-5 days.
Bon Ami – Who needs a toxic scrub when you can use this incredible product?! Super cheap (less than $1.50) and available online and at Target, this is one of my favorite nontoxic products on the market – been around since 1886!
Wool dryer balls – I had no clue these were a thing and now I swear by them. Unscented, reusable (I have had them for well over a year now), unbleached, organic and completely naturally-derived, these balls help my clothes dry faster and minimize static cling with absolutely ZERO toxins.
Air freshener Hack #1 — Essential Oil Diffuser – I might not want a house that smells like a chemical corporation’s version of spring rain, but I still want my place to smell good! I have an oil diffuser on each floor of my home and I love different essential oils I can add to the water to match or inspire my moods. If I need to relax I put a few drops of lavender oil or doTERRA’s Serenity. If I need energy or clarity I put in some orange essence or doTerra’s Balance. Two others I like are combining frankincense and lime or picking up Aura Cacia’s Creative Juice blend made with bergamot and cardamom. You can find all different color diffusers – wood, black and some that have optional beautiful light effects too.
Air freshener Hack #2 — Unscented candles with oil that I add – Sometimes I want that warm glow of candles in my home, but not the synthetic fragrances that go along with them. I light unscented candles and then after they have melted a little bit, I add essential oil to the warm wax. After an hour or so of burning, the scent is gone so it’s easy to use a different scent each time. I prefer pure beeswax and soy over paraffin as I don’t really want to be putting toluene in the air by burning petroleum in my home if I can help it . Sometimes I perk up these soy tea lights with a few oil drops and other times larger pillar candles. Trader Joe’s generally carries unscented soy pillars on the cheap!
Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner – Whether or not I enjoy the process of cleaning toilets, this is one area of the home that I like to keep sparkling since baby hands touch everything. I wipe over the outside of the toilet with the Seventh Generation disinfectant spray I preached about above but the inside of the bowl is kept super white thanks to this biodegradable formula with scents made from 100% essential oils and botanical ingredients and no chlorine bleach. Whole Foods also makes a great one with a natural citrus scent.
365 Oxygen Whitening Powder – I have to admit, I have always loved bleach, but that’s just not part of this greener mama’s repertoire anymore. I wanted something to perk up my whites and found it! I even use it on colors. It’s a great booster cleaner in the laundry without the smell or toxicity of bleach!
Seventh Generation Trash Bags – I love that these don’t break on the walk to the dumpster (that is NOT a fun pick up!) and that they are made with 65% recycled plastic. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s way better than 100% virgin plastic bags.
Shark Floor Steamer – I need to keep a clean – chemical-free – floor with a baby who drops all of her food and then promptly picks it up and eats it. This keeps the toxins off the floor and is super fast and easy to use. Add essential oils to the water to make the house smell delish!
Grab Green Laundry Detergent – To be honest, this has been a hard one to find. I wanted something nontoxic but I also wanted to have clean clothes. Everything I had used made my clothes feel like they were only washed with water – until Grab Green. I love their natural scent options too, tho unscented is my favorite.