Is There Such a Thing as a "Safe" Household Cleaner?

Is There Such a Thing as a "Safe" Household Cleaner?

Erin Burt

My whole-food journey began almost ten years ago after a semi-scary diagnosis from my gastroenterologist. The transition to crunchy mom was a natural one after I had accidentally become a healthy food evangelist. I was passionate about reading labels, making as much as I could from scratch, and making slow food a part of our family.

Knowing all of this, it’s a little shocking to me that I didn’t extend the same due diligence to my use of household cleaners. Sure, I used baking soda and vinegar when necessary but I blindly trusted the advertising on the bottles. “All Natural,” a term that would have never sold me on a box of crackers, cajoled me to purchase an entire line of cleaning products.

So, imagine my surprise when I found that these exact products were rated an “F” by the Environmental Working Group. My mind raced as I thought of all the times I had naively wiped down my daughter’s high chair tray and our kitchen table. As a self-proclaimed mega-mom-guilt survivor, I decided then and there that, instead of thinking of all the ways I had given my kids some weird disease through the cleaner I had used (#sarcasm), I was going to educate myself and do my best moving forward.

What does that look like in our house?

  1. Refer to this list. I don’t know a ton about ingredients in household cleaners and, honestly, I don’t have the same capacity for research that I did when I first began my foray into the whole-food world. So, for now, I am letting others do the research for me.
  2. Make cleaners when I can. Here is a list of some great DIY household cleaner options. Here is some information on incorporating essential oils. 
  3. Recognize the season YOU are in. I’ve already said that I don’t have time to research all of the cleaners. Well, I honestly don’t have time to make all the cleaners, either. In saying that, we are also a single-income family, so I can’t necessarily afford to purchase every cleaning supply I would prefer. Prioritize what is important to your family, factor in all of the costs (accounting for both your time and your finances.)

As always, you know what is the best for your family. And, what’s best for your family may not be another family’s best option.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at

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