5 Easy Baby Steps to a Greener Home

Maybe you're having the same experience that I did not very long ago.

You're starting to realize that there are lots of unhealthy things in your home environment. Products you've been using for years and that you never gave a second thought to are turning out to be menaces to your health. From what you're reading and hearing, it seems like almost everything is toxic.

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Are you overwhelmed when you think about all the things that you need to change?

Boy, can I relate!

Want some advice?

You can't change everything all at once. The best thing to do is take baby steps. Pick one or two areas and work on those. Then add another. Then another.

In time they'll add up to a big improvement in the health of your home and of you and your family.

I'm going to share with you some of the baby steps I've taken in recent months to make my home greener and healthier. They're all things that I have tried myself and that I recommend.

Why do I recommend them? Three good reasons:

  • They're going to make you and your family healthier.
  • They're good for the environment.
  • They'll save you money.

Win, win, win!

So, here are some suggestions to get you started. You can read through all of them or just click to whatever catches your eye in the list below:

1. Ditch the plastic containers

Plastic containers can leach harmful chemicals into your food. Some of the newer plastics are not as bad as the old ones, but I still want to use them as little as possible.

I got rid of my old plastic containers and I replaced them with glass containers like these made by Pyrex.

Pyrex bowls

I love them because they're heavy and strong, and I like that they're clear so I can see the contents. You can put them in the oven or microwave, and you can freeze them.

They do have plastic lids, but they are BPA free and generally don't touch the food, anyway. The lids are nice and stay on tight. They are microwaveable, but I don't use them in the microwave. I prefer to use wax paper to cover foods in the microwave.

You can put the lids in the dishwasher, but I don't because I think they stay in better shape if you hand wash them.

2. Use this alternative to plastic food wrap

Along with plastic containers, I'm trying to cut back on my use of plastic wrap. Most plastic wrap contains LDPE, which is an endocrine disruptor. It also ends up in the trash, and that's bad for the environment.

Here's a great alternative to plastic wrap that I started using a few months ago. It's called Bees Wrap.

Bees Wrap

It's made of organic cotton cloth embedded with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. You can use it to cover a container or wrap it around food. You use the warmth from your hands to form it how ever you want it. It seals quite well.

After using it, you just wash it with cool soapy water and let it air dry. You can use it over and over again for about a year. Bees Wrap comes in 6 different sizes and in different designs.

3. Make your own non-toxic cleaners

At first I was skeptical of homemade cleaners. I found it hard to believe that they could do as good a job as commercial cleaners.

window spray

Boy, was I wrong!

In most cases, they actually out-perform the stuff you buy at the store. They don't knock you over with noxious fumes, and they don't hurt your skin. And they really save you a lot of money.

I've tried out lots of different recipes for homemade cleaners. Here are two of my favorites.

DIY glass stove top cleaner

This Non-Toxic Glass Stove Top Cleaner, from The Turquoise Home, is made of three simple ingredients and works like a charm. It's far better than the commercial glass stove top cleaner that came with my stove top, and it's 100% non-toxic.

Note: the recipe calls for Citrus Fresh oil, but you can substitute any citrus oil because they are great degreasers. I use lemon, myself.

Window and mirror cleaner

I'm totally in love with Clean Mama's Window + Mirror Cleaning Spray, and I'm amazed by how well it works. It leaves the glass sparkling clean with no smearing, and it doesn't make me choke when I use it. I will never go back to store-bought window cleaners!

Note: It's best to use a microfiber glass cleaning cloth with this spray.

If you'd like more ideas for non-toxic cleaners, see my post How to Make Homemade Cleaners with Lemon Essential Oil.

4. Detox your laundry

Laundry products are full of hazardous chemicals. Some have even been identified as carcinogens. So I've switched out three items in my laundry for healthier options. Those are the detergent, liquid fabric softener, and dryer sheets.

non-toxic laundry products

Homemade laundry detergent

I only tried one detergent recipe, and I was so happy with it that I never bothered to try any others. I went with the dry detergent because the liquid ones sounded like too much of a mess. 

Here's the recipe I use: Homemade HE Laundry Detergent Recipe from Wellness Mama.

It's called "HE" (high efficiency), but that just means that it's safe for a high efficiency machine. I use it in my top-loading washing machine, and I only use 2 tablespoons of detergent for a large load.

And by the way, the bar soap I use is Kirk's Original Coco Castile, and I grate it using my Cuisinart food processor. I ordered all the ingredients from Walmart and picked them up at the store. That saved me a lot of running around, and Walmart had the best price.

White vinegar fabric softener

Instead of fabric softener, I use distilled white vinegar. I put 1/2 cup in a Downy fabric softener ball and toss it in at the beginning of the wash cycle. I actually only use it with my whites and towels (which are all white).

You never want to use fabric softener on towels because it makes them less absorbent. That's the whole reason for having towels, right? But if you don't use any kind of rinse, your towels can turn out stiff. That's because of the soap residue that's left behind on the towels.

Well, the vinegar in the rinse gets rid of the soap residue, so your towels turn out soft and clean. And by the way, I've never had a problem with the laundry smelling like pickles. If you use the right amount of vinegar, it should't leave a smell behind.

Wool dryer balls

Another cool eco-friendly laundry tool I use is wool dryer balls.

wool dryer balls

You just put 2 or 3 in the dryer with your laundry instead of dryer sheets. They reduce static, they speed up the drying time, and they make your clothes turn out soft and smooth. I'm not quite sure why they work, but they do. Maybe it's magic!

If you want to add some fragrance, put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the balls before you start each load. I like to use lavender.

5. Replace toxic air fresheners and candles with essential oils

It was a sad day when I learned that all those lovely scented candles and wax melts I was using to make my home smell wonderful were actually polluting the indoor air. And canned "air fresheners" aren't any better. They may as well be called "air polluters" because they're just spewing toxic chemicals into the air. I love having my house smell good, but not at the expense of good health.

So what's a fragrance lover to do?

Essential oils to the rescue! Not only do essential oils smell good, but they can actually make the air healthier to breathe.

You can make your own air freshener by putting water in a spray bottle and adding several drops of essential oils. But I think the best method is a diffuser, like this one that I use.

oil diffuser

You just add water and a few drops of oil to the diffuser, and it dispenses a fine mist into the air. My favorite oil for diffusing is Purification by Young Living. It neutralizes odors and has a fresh fragrance that I love.


So there you have it. None of these suggestions cost a lot of money, and they're easy for anyone to do. There are lots of other great ideas that I could share, but this should be enough to get you started.

Have fun and remember - one baby step at a time!

Have you tried any of these? Or do you have any other favorite simple steps to going green at home? Let us hear about it in the comments.

This post was featured on the Healthy Living Link Party #82.

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Marge Sweigart

I'm a healthy living blogger who loves to help people who care about having a healthy home environment make smart choices and save money. Read more

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Janet - December 10, 2016 Reply

Thanks for this great page. I’ve saved it to “pocket” so I can easily find it, as it’s late and I’m too tired to finish going thru the whole page.

I found this page by searching info on the Downy ball. I just got mine today, as I’m going to try Dr. Bronner’s for the wash cycle and they stress it’s important to put vinegar in the rinse cycle. Anyway, it dawned on me that I don’t know if it’s BPA free or not — and/or what type of plastic is used. I know that BPA is not the only danger. I’m wondering if anyone knows what kind of plastic this is. I’ve just started eliminating plastics when able and I’m concerned about adding a plastic if it’s potentially going to deposit anything harmful in my clothes that can be transferred to me — or will end up washing toxins into the drain.

Anyway, I’ve been switching out many products to nontoxic alternatives. I started with eliminating shampoo, conditioner, and lotions. The hair care transition was horrific and I’m amazed I stuck with it, but so glad I did.

I currently use baking soda and water to wash — and apple cider vinegar and water to condition. My hair looks and feels great, and is no longer falling out at the rate it was, it’s shinier, and it’s becoming softer and softer. Before the switch, my hair was becoming course, was falling out, and looked dull (no shine). I had to use a leave in conditioner and a hair serum oil — and even that was not working as well anymore. I had accepted that it was just hormones changing, as I’m in my 50s. I actually didn’t make the switch because of the condition of my hair — I switched because I was using more and more products and was starting to wonder what unseen things these chemicals were doing to my health, as surely they were being absorbed into my system. I really didn’t think using alternative products would IMPROVE my hair — I was just hoping to find something that wouldn’t leave my hair looking WORSE. So, what a wonderful payoff it’s been to see the condition of my hair improving at the same time that I’m no longer taking in 4 products worth of toxins each time I wash my hair. Oh! And I use Dr. Bronner’s for a body wash, so there’s another set of harmful chemicals I’ve eliminated from my self cleansing routine!

I look forward to learning more here. Thanks for the page and for the links. I’ve saved some of them to “pocket” as well.

Jessica Brody - November 11, 2016 Reply

Hey , This seems an interesting idea but I heard from some people that instead of using plastic we should use Glass product .

What you suggest plastic or glass for a greener home ?
Thanks

    Marge Sweigart - November 14, 2016 Reply

    Hi Jessica,

    Yes, I do suggest using glass instead of plastic. That is the first “baby step” in the article – “Ditch the Plastic Containers.” It’s nearly impossible to avoid using plastic at all, but every bit helps. Thanks for stopping by.

Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle - October 2, 2016 Reply

I so agree with you to take baby steps to clean out the chemicals that harm us. Don’t stop once you start keep up those baby steps.
Kathleen
Bloggers Pit Stop

Silke - October 1, 2016 Reply

Great article. I’m so glad you mentioned beeswrap. I have used plastic wrap a lot but it always feels not quite right for the reasons you mentioned. Will check this out, love the fact that you can fold it over the edges of a container. Will check it out. Thank you for the great tips.

    Marge Sweigart - October 1, 2016 Reply

    Hi Silke! Yes, I love Bees Wrap. It really works well. Thanks for stopping by!

Love Healthy Recipes? Welcome to the Healthy Living Link Party #82 - September 28, 2016 Reply

[…] 5 Easy Baby Steps to a Greener Home from thesafehealthyhome.com […]

Deborah Davis - September 28, 2016 Reply

I love the healthy green living tips. I love to clean with my homemade cleaners and my diffuser is my best friend. Thanks for sharing these great green living tips. I am featuring this post on this week’s Healthy Living Link Party!

    Marge Sweigart - September 28, 2016 Reply

    Hi, Deborah! Thanks so much for your comment, and thank you for featuring my post! I’m honored!

Kim - September 23, 2016 Reply

Hi! I followed you “home”. 🙂 I use a recipe for laundry soap that a friend gave me a few years back. I use Fels Naptha for the soap part. Is that a good one to use? I also use white vinegar in the laundry rinse cycle. I’ve not noticed the Downy fabric softener balls. Is there a compartment inside that holds the vinegar? I’m with you on the fabric softener. Also, micro-fiber doesn’t seem to absorb very well, so I avoid buying anything that’s related. I enjoyed my look around on your site! You have some really great information here. 🙂

    Marge Sweigart - September 23, 2016 Reply

    Hi Kim! You should be able to find the Downy fabric softener balls in the detergent aisle at Walmart or your grocery store. They’re hollow plastic balls about 3-4″ in diameter with a special stopper that releases the contents into the wash during the spin cycle. From what I understand, though, it won’t work with front loading machines. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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