Cleaning your home with environmentally safe, natural ingredients may sounds like a challenge: after all, doesn’t the strong chemical smell of my current mildew remover mean that it’s working? Yes, common household cleaners might get the job done, but for a price — scientists over the years have discovered that many of the products commonly associated with home hygiene actually pollute air, humans and animals with harsh, and sometimes dangerous, chemicals.


To learn how to get started with green cleaning, look no further than the products you find in the refrigerator or pantry, such as baking soda, vinegar, soap, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice and just plain water. There are countless natural recipes online for cleaners for everything from your hardwood and carpeted floors to your toilets, sinks and sofas.


If whipping up a batch of your own cleaner or polish is not appealing, you can purchase several chemical-free brands in stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, as well as specialty shops and online, including:


  • Seventh Generation
  • Gaiam
  • Method
  • Mrs. Meyers

When shopping for household cleaners, look for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Design for the Environment (DfE) label, which, according to the EPA’s new green cleaning portal, “meet stringent criteria for human and environmental health.”


Does overhauling your household cleaning regime sound intimidating? Here are some tips to begin cleaning green:


  • Remove the toxic products from under your sink and within your cabinets — and dispose of them safely. For information on how to dispose of various chemicals, contact your local government or search, as most areas offer at least one hazardous waste collection day annually.
  • Start with one room or item that you want to clean naturally, such as the bathroom or the kitchen sink. Add a new area to tackle every week or every other week.
  • Stock up on the ingredients that appear in many green cleaning recipes, and make large batches at a time.
  • Concentrate cleaning on areas that need it most, such as the one moldy spot on the shower door versus the entire door. This saves water and cleaner.
  • If you have traditional cleaners left you do not want to dispose of, dilute them when you use them, to lessen their harmful impact.
  • Ask friends, neighbors or others that you know live an environmentally aware lifestyle for their advice on green cleaning. Many people swear by a certain cleaning technique (such as recycling old T-shirts or cloth diapers for use as rags instead of using paper towels) or natural recipe (baking soda and vinegar is effective for countless household needs).
  • To reduce paper clutter, pay bills and maintain your calendar online, and visit the Direct Marketing Association website to be removed from “junk mail” lists.
  • Bring in some plants. They are natural air cleaners — indoors and out.

Have other ideas for how to get started with green cleaning? Leave us a note in the comments below.