Top 10 Chemical-Free Cleaning Tips


There’s only one way to really clean a kitchen, and that’s with corrosive, fuming, toxic chemicals. You’re making the place uninhabitable for bacteria and your cuticles are the withered proof. It’s Operation Scorched Kitchen.

Wouldn’t the Proctor & Gambles of the world love to have you fall in line.

Admittedly, impressively-named laboratory brews are very intriguing to look at, but why they have any place in our homes is really beyond my grasp.


There are so many natural tips for cleaning your kitchen – and your whole home – without resorting to harsh, toxic chemicals, so let’s hop to it.

Get started on a safe, healthy home with these 10 tips:

1. Eco-Me’s home cleaning kit features a blend of essential oils of lavender, tea tree, rosemary and lemongrass, plenty strong enough to banish even the most evil bugs.

2. Borax is an effective alternative to harsh chlorine bleach.

3. We love killing bacteria, so manufacturers are turning to triclosan to help us do it. But this disinfectant can prompt the growth of resistant bacteria; what’s more, it can turn carcinogenic. Use vinegar instead (and remember that not all bacteria is harmful!).

4. Inform yourself: not only can cleaning products keep their ingredients a secret, but they can label themselves organic, natural, non-toxic and biodegradable without any actual certification. If you’d rather not use household cleaners like vinegar, baking soda or Borax, definitely choose trustworthy green brands like Method, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s and Begley’s.

5. When humans use the word “fragrance” we are generally intending to convey scent. When manufacturers use it they are intending to disguise the fact that they’re using phthalates (petroleum-based hormone disruptors). For a fresh, clean smell in your home, look to citrus and herbs, and don’t miss the post by Luanne guiding you to the safest natural scents.

6. Skip the monoethanolamine (MEA) on principle. It causes irritation and in some cases, asthma. Plus, it’s a petroleum product. Instead, use water. Yep, water.

Ammonia may cut grease, but it’s also dangerous to your health. Skip the chemical sprays and use your favorite spritzer bottle filled with 4 parts water, 1 part white vinegar instead.

8. Natural products are truly all you need.
Or, if you already have white wine, bicarbonate of soda, lemons and some cheap olive oil in your cupboard, you’re ready to go with a DIY version.

9. Do you have a cold pot of tea steeped past its flavorful peak? Tea is acidic and is therefore a natural cleanser (of course you won’t want to use it on surfaces that will stain or are porous).

10. Finally, never underestimate the power of nature’s most effective cleaner: elbow grease. A simple cloth, a little hot water, and your own muscle are sufficient for most cleaning tasks.

We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that germs are evil and our homes must be free of all bacteria, but the truth is that for dustiness, spills and specks, a good strong wipe with a damp towel is not only plenty effective, but safer for you and better for the planet.

Source: National Geographic Green Guide Spring 2008

Note: with additional reporting from Sara Ost

Images: dave’s place, Nic Name

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.