Spring Clean the Toxins: How to Get Started

Not only is spring a perfect time to freshen up your house when it comes to scrubbing baseboards and washing blinds and all those “cleanliness” tasks, but it’s also an idea time to think about the unseen invaders lurking in your home

That’s right– dangerous toxins!

It’s beginning to be common knowledge that many of the beauty and skincare products, cleaning supplies, foods, kitchen items, and even furniture, decor and clothing in our homes contain harmful chemicals that make their way into our body through our skin, our mouths, and our lungs.

Though invisible to the naked eye, and often absorbed in minute amounts, these toxins have very real and serious effects.

So what do we do about it?

Never wanting to overwhelm anyone, I opted not to run a formal day by day challenge to hold you accountable to setting goals and accomplishing them. That can be a useful way to do it, but I know that as an eager, but very busy mom, I sometimes get idealistic and bite off more than I can chew when it comes to making healthy changes for myself and my family.

What I opted for instead is to run a “Spring Clean the Toxins” month, where we will be sharing information and helpful resources on various toxins, with ideas for you to make simple changes to avoid them. These posts will not be every single day, but interspersed throughout the month, giving you regular food for thought.

The point isn’t for you to take on each area that we post about. Instead, we hope to:

  1. Bring some awareness to toxins that you might not have known were in your home or in particular products, and to educate on what makes those toxins so harmful in the first place.
  2. Point you to resources for those who are ready to pursue removing that particular toxin from their lives as much as possible.
  3. Suggest simple steps that you can take to make it happen.
  4. Have a permanent resource so that when you decide you’d like to switch to a homemade air freshener (for example) four months down the road, you know where to find the info that you need.

Ready to get started?

For those who feel eager and ready to jump into the task of detoxifying their homes and lives, I’ve gathered up as many previous posts written by myself or my contributing writers, touching on various elements of avoiding toxins or switching over to more natural and healthy alternatives.

This list includes helpful posts from the archives, and will also be updated throughout the month as new posts go up:

Cleaning

Two Recipes for Odor-Eliminating, Air-Freshening Sprays

Back to the Basics: Frugal, Non Toxic, Green Cleaning

Forget the Bleach: How to Use the Sun to Whiten Your Whites

Clean Your Shower or Bathtub Simply

A Natural Stain Remover that Really Works

The Stain Removal Trick that Saves Kids Clothes, Money and My Sanity

How to Get Set in Stains Out of Almost Anything

Non-Toxic Disinfectants

Better, Cheaper, Safer 4-Way Soft Scrubber

Non-Toxic Cleaners You Can Make at Home

Natural and Eco-Friendly Laundry Soap Review: 5 Moms Test and Compare

Beauty, Skincare and Hygiene

Gentle, All Natural Deodorant Stick Recipe

My Frugal Beauty Routine

My Mama Cloth Adventure and Review of Four Sources

Naturally Female

My Thoughts on Sunscreen Part 1 and Part 2

Safe and All Natural Beauty Products You Can Make at Home

Making My Own Shampoo and Conditioner (Using the No ‘Poo Method)

How to Wash Your Face Using the Oil Cleansing Method

Identifying and Avoiding Toxins in Beauty and Personal Care Products

Gardening/Yard Care

Natural Weed Killer Recipe

Heirloom Seeds: What They Are and Why I Think You Should Grow Them

Naturally Controlling Pests in the Organic Garden

In the Home

Harmful Handwashing: The Dangers of Antibacterial Soaps

How to Protect Your Family from the Dangers of Formaldehyde

How I Stock my Natural Medicine Cabinet

Using Houseplants to Reduce Toxins and Grow Fresh Air

In the Kitchen

My Simple Cast Iron Care Routine

The Great Debate: Washing Our Fruits and Vegetables

The Dirty Dozen: Making the Most of the Money You Spend on Organics

Using Stoneware for Baking and Cooking

31 Ways to Use a Mason Jar in Your Kitchen

Babies and Children

Safe and Natural Children’s Toys

Healing Rashes While Cloth Diapering

Children’s Sleepwear: Avoiding Flame Retardent Chemicals

General Ideas

9 Toxins to Remove From Your Life

What will you do next?

I find it helping when making changes like these to pick one or two that I’m ready to focus on next, and create goals or timelines for myself to ensure that the changes actually happen.

Is there an area that stands out to you? 

Maybe it’s getting rid of the teflon in your kitchen and moving towards cast iron or stoneware instead. Maybe you’ve recently heard some concerns about antibacterial soap and you want to consider whether you should stop buying it. You might choose to replace one conventional cleaner with a more natural one, like a soft scrub or air freshener. Or as a green thumb, learning to use plants in your home to effectively reduce toxins might be right up your alley.

The options are limitless, but all you have to do is start somewhere. Anywhere.

And it really doesn’t matter what it is, just that you’re making changes towards healthy living in small but positive steps.

Take your pick (and keep watching throughout the month for more ideas), then write your goals in your planner, on a white board, on an index card stuck to your fridge… anywhere that you’ll see them and be reminded.

Tell us… what will you do next as you move towards a less toxic home and lifestyle?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Hi Stephanie! As a new convert to toxic free cleaning I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your site! I’ll never understand how it took me so long to realize that making you own healthy cleaners requires such little effort….and wise up to the load of trash they’re selling that we just don’t need! Lining up like sheep to buy many separate specialized cleaners full of toxins… when we could be making it ourselves with germ killing ,great smelling ingredients! Thanks again!

  2. I am definately at the baby steps phase still! I am one of those perfectionist people that wants to dive in and tackle it all at once and get overwhelmed. Last summer our youngest adopted son was diagnosed with some moderate food allergies, and I started reading ingredient labels and switching to more simple and whole foods. While we do eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, both my husband and I grew up in homes with a lot of processed foods and have eliminated many of them but were sort of at a loss what to do next (especially on a tight food budget). Finding your blog has been very encouraging for me to make the switch for the whole family in an affordable way. Baby steps. I do 99% of my food shopping at the farmer’s market and two of our more natural food stores, but my goal for May’s food budget is to try out Azure Standard. Eventually I would also like to grind my own grains and do more baking. Moving from our big apartment into a cute little house 3 months ago has also motivated me to make more changes around the home. We switched to cloth diapers for our youngest and now for the foster baby we just added to our family. I have started making some of my own cleaning products with simple vinegar and baking soda. I found some essential oils (not food grade) in the back of a drawer that my husband had bought awhile back as part of a massage kit (yeah, it was a phase of his) and have been using them for cleaning and freshening up my diaper wet bags. For April, we tried to reduce our use of plastic and teflon in the kitchen. We had an expensive teflon pan set that was given to us as a wedding present 8 years ago that we have been meaning to replace for awhile. I managed to find some individual stainless steel pots and pans at a local clearance store that were resonable. I have also started using mason jars and glass casserole dishes instead of tupperware, and I tossed a lot of the plastic kids’ dishes we have been given over the years and am teaching them to use glass and ceramic. I cannot afford new lunchboxes right now, but am planning to find something this summer for next year. My husband jokes that we are “reducing” plastic because he doesn’t think we can eliminate it alltogether, but he humors me in trying:) One as my next goals is to start making my own bath/beauty products (or at least finding inexpensive ones) as we start to run out of things (so as not to be wasteful). I love the link to your post on this topic. With 4 kiddos in the house currently, I also love the link to rethinking kids’ toys. As a child development professional in my former life, we have always had more educational toys than commercial ones…but definately too much plastic!!! I am going through baby toys to give away, and am hoping to purchase a few wooden toys instead. Thanks for the great info, and the reminder that baby steps are a good place to start.

  3. Great collection posts! My question is this. How do you clean the grayish hard water/soap scum stains from the tub without using chemicals? I’ve tried the baking soda, the essential oils, the vinegar…the only thing that seems to get it off is a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and I cringe every time I use it. Help! Anyone??

    • Stephanie, I haven’t found a great way to clean it yet. What I have done is lessened my expectations in the cleaning area. Some hard water stains are not going to go away around my faucets and in my tub, but I know without a doubt that I used a good natural cleaner so that eveything is clean and the build up is gone.

  4. What a great, comprehensive post! I’m super excited that my hubby is 100% on board w/ our switch to take out the toxins. He even made some homemade thieves oil to spray around the house and rub on our feet/necks when the girls and I were sick w/ the norovirus this week! (And he put it on himself and his illness lasted a FRACTION of the time ours did!) He also told me this morning: “I want to run by Health Nuts (a local store) and get some more essential oils for us to make some more cleaners!” !!!! :)

    Your kitchen section of this post is going to make my next post for you easier to write when I’m looking for link-ups to old posts on your site! ;)

  5. I use Basic H for my pest problems. I mop the floor and it keeps all the spiders away. It is also safe enough to use in my vegetable garden. It not only keeps away the bugs, but my mop water helps my plants grow! I don’t like the smell of vinegar, so I also use Basic H for my windows. It is also cheaper to use than vinegar.

  6. Stephanie this is one thing my family is passionate about (well my hubby and I, kids too as they are 3 & 4 and are learning)! It is also essential #5 at our wellness office, some people really don’t know how toxic certain things are, this is a great resource!

  7. Thank you so much for all of these tips and ideas! I have already done / do a bunch of these things, but so many of them I haven’t yet and can’t wait to start! However, as a busy mom of 3 young ones I know I can’t do them all at once. Please leave this post and links up for, like, forever! Thanks! I’m so glad to have stumbled on your site! After reading your bio and the titles of your posts (I’ve only had a chance to actually read a few so far), I realize we are like minded in many ways! Thanks again for taking the time to do this!

  8. This is the time of year when ants invade our home. Do you have any toxic-free solutions for keeping them at bay? I have sprayed vinegar in the areas where I see them but it doesn’t stop the march.

  9. I was so tickled to see the post about using the sun as natural bleach! :-) So many people don’t have a clue about that….but I don’t even let bleach enter my house. It gives me the heebie jeebies.
    I wish I could use more stoneware in cooking, so that will be what I work on. I sometimes find new pieces at yard sales and I get super excited! :-)

  10. Thanks so much for this! I was just looking on Monday for the post on using oxygen bleach in the bathtub but couldn’t find it. I’ve already bookmarked this so I can find all your super-helpful cleaning tips.

  11. This is great! I’d love to see a post on natural pest control. That’s my next toxin to work on. There’s got to be some other way to keep spiders and scorpions away!

  12. A couple years ago, I started working on removing as many toxins as I could from our home. I often feel like I’ve hardly made a difference in the way our family lives and have been discouraged lately. After looking over this list I’m realizing that is not the case. Thank you so much Stephanie for putting this list together! I’m amazed at how many of the items I can check off already, which will really help me stay focused on the changes to get in place before baby comes in August. My next steps will be beauty/skin care items. I’ve tried this in the past, but not very successfully. The no ‘poo method left my hair dry and brittle, except at the crown where it was a big oil patch. This time I’ll research those specific problems to see what solutions I can find!

    • I’m so glad this was an encouragement to you! Sometimes we just don’t realize how far we have come already and how many changes we have actually made. It sounds like you’re doing fantastic, and beauty/skincare is a great next goal. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Spring Clean the Toxins @ Keeper of the Home. I’m all about healthy and natural options… but there’s a question on my mind that no one has addressed yet. Yes, chemicals are bad and the home is best kept clean…. but how does it REALLY affect your health? Is there a dramatic and uplifting change when you purify? Is it a 30% less cancer over time kind of thing? I’m curious (and spring cleaning my toxins…) [...]

  2. [...] This post is a compilation of a lot of posts related to eliminating toxins from your household/life. [...]

  3. [...] and easy.  Read more about what to do from the Keeper of the Home blog I referred to earlier: Spring Clean the Toxins.  She has lots of ideas but here is the recipe that I use for my All Purpose Cleaner.  It works [...]

  4. [...] Spring clean the toxins and how to get started | Keeper of the Home [...]

  5. [...] Keeper of the Home on May 2, 12in Living healthy, Spring Clean the ToxinsI hope that this month of Spring Clean the Toxins has encouraged you with just how simple it can be to begin removing toxins from your life!Today you [...]