When we moved to California 5 years ago, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to clean up my cleaning routine. I started slow and modest at first – in our rented apartment we had a new washing machine which meant I could use unscented detergent! I started with tide free and clear.
It’s been quite a journey searching for effective but less-toxic better beauty products for my pigmentation issues, and trying 30+ types of natural deodorants. Finding a cleaner home cleaning routine has been a challenge as well. Below are my best tips so far.
What I Thought was a Good Start to Clean Living
I then thought I’d clean up the dryer sheets – surely Mrs. Meyers was less “toxic” than Bounce, right? Look at their branding – they’ve got a simple, clean and almost apothecary like aesthetic – certainly that means they make “cleaner” cleaners, right? I began using some of Mrs. Meyers other products too, like hand soap (also in the basil scent) and the scrubbing powder. Now that I haven’t used the overly-scented seemingly healthy Mrs. Meyers cleaners for years, I can step back and realize how irritatingly and distractedly scented the Mrs. Meyers products are! Their proprietary scent blends are a mixture of essential oils and synthetic fragrances. I learned my lesson big time with Mrs. Meyers – if a company focuses so much on scent, they have also made it to last a long time. The products may be leaping bunny certified and mostly plan based, but the scents are sooooo overpowering (but as pleasant as they can be for scents).
To supplement our stock of Mrs. Meyers, I also used Method surface cleaner – again, it gave the appearance of being less toxic. And it had seemingly natural, fresh scents – much different than the chemical-ly scent of 409 etc.
Branch Basics Cleaning Concentrate Review
About the time we moved into a new place 3.5 years ago, I finally bought some Branch Basics formula. I was getting into cleaning up my house and beauty routine, so this coconut oil and plant enzyme-based cleaning brand seemed like a good fit. I also went to school growing up with one of the founders and had seen her posts of Facebook – I had to give it a try.
Since that time, Branch Basics has unfortunately had to admit their formulation wasn’t what they thought, but the good news is they are working on a new formula. They certainly aren’t the first brand to have formulation issues, and I so appreciate their honestly. And the truth is, regardless of the types of cleaning agents in their original formula, it at least got me using fragrance free less irritating cleaners that worked! And that has been a life changer for me.
After using Branch Basics, everything else seemed sooooooo scented. Soon it was time to throw our all of my Mrs. Meyers products (although I held onto the dryer sheets a bit longer until I started using wool dryer balls). Branch Basics worked great for most cleaning applications – we even used it for most of our laundry items (although I did keep pods of tide free and clear around to keep my husband confident our sheets and towels were clean enough for his allergies).
I am however, a creature of time-saving and convenience. I’ve tried to make my own cleaners – in vain. That whole vinegar cleaner thing just doesn’t do it for me (any suggestions?). Branch Basics worked well, but it was an inconvenience to me to mix the concentrate with the correct amount of water etc (because I’m human and lazy). So I started searching for more cleaners.
Non-Toxic Laundry Solutions
I’ve been using the Laundress products for years, and about 4 years ago I found their spot solution – not only is it the most effective spot solution I’ve ever used, but it’s also less chemical-ly and scented and Shout or Zout brand spot cleaners. I’ve used the Laundress denim wash and other detergents as well. They were OK but I wasn’t “wowed” by them. This The Laundress stain solution is the best stain remover on the planet. Whenever I do my lipstick swatches I always forget about them and inevitably smudge lipstick all over furniture and linens in our house and this spot cleaner removes fresh or old lipstick stains incredibly well. This cruelty free, non-toxic, biodegrable and unscented stain remover is free of petroleum, SLS, and phthalates.
My main-stay unscented laundry detergent has been Puracy brand. This non-toxic detergent works great, it’s concentrated and very easy to use – it’s husband proof :). I even stopped buying and using Tide Free and Clear pods and my husband hasn’t missed them! We use the Puracy formula to clean all of our laundry, and it seems to work fine with our high efficiency stackable washer. I hate to admit how much rely on our Amazon Prime subscription – but we do and I like that I can easily and quickly replace any Puracy products when we are running low.
I haven’t been obsessive about triple checking every last ingredient in the Puracy laundry detergent – but I do know for my family it is non-irritating and fragrance free. It contains mostly plant-based cleaners and does include Borax which I believe is an irritator for some. EWG also gives is a poor rating for potential endocrine disrupters – which isn’t music to my ears. However after looking more into it, the studies are all based on very high dosage levels. I’m always looking to test new products, but in the meantime I do still feel comfortable using Puracy laundry detergent with mineral-based borax.
Non-Toxic Multi-Purpose Cleaners
After having loved Puracy’s laundry detergent, we started buying their multi-purpose cleaner too to replace Method Lime and Grapefruit cleaners (and the Branch Basics I had to mix). While the Puracy mutli-purpose Lime and Sea Salt spray does have a slight scent, it disappears after a few minutes. The cleaning power seems to work just fine. We also LOVE Puracy’s dish soap.
We’ve also been recently liking Babyganics multi-surface cleaner (using baby friendly products is now more important in our home 🙂 ).
In the Kitchen….
We use Puracy and Babyganics multi-surface cleaners on our stovetop and counters, and we adore the Puracy dish soap to hand wash dishes.
My favorite new addition to our kitchen routine is our newer hand soap – Dr. Bronner’s 4-in-1 baby unscented organic sugar soap. I occasionally try Dr. Bronner’s castile soap which I’ve found to be – just OK – but this sugar based soap is excellent! I’ve tried the lemongrass scent too, but this unscented version is just perfect It feels effective yet its not drying. I haven’t used it in the shower yet, but I will definitely try it soon and will consider this for our baby as well.
Now the real replacement I need is a healthy dishwasher detergent – Cascade Platinum seems to work the best. Would love to know if you have any non-toxic dishwasher detergents! (the previous formulation of Branch Basics just didn’t cut it for washing dishes at all).
Less Harsh, Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizers and Wipes
I discovered Babyganics a few years ago on Amazon while looking for unscented, non-toxic and potentially organic cleaning products and non-drying hand-sanitizer. I started using their wipes and foaming hand sanitizer and I’m totally obsessed. I’ve often used “baby” versions of sunscreen, skin care and other cleaning products because they work great for my sensitive skin and are unscented. I keep these wipes in my car, at work and in my car and use them every day. We are looking forward to trying more of their products when our baby arrives later this year. It’s nice to already have ideas of trusted brands that should work well for our growing family.
I also picked up a small bottle of Honest Company orange hand sanitizer and I do like it (I can tolerate citrus-based essential oils the most). The Honest Company hand santizer is alcohol-based whereas Babyganics isn’t. My husband doesn’t like what he describes as a “sticky” feeling with the Babyganics, but it’s really not as sticky as many other alcohol-free hand sanitizers and wipes.
More Around the Home
Last but not least, I added a few From Molly with Love products into the mix this spring. I have the Sun Salute yoga mat cleaner which is a refreshing witch-hazel and essential oils base blend – and I’m also trying to test it on other surfaces. I tried the whole make-your-own-cleaner-with-vinegar-and-essential-oils-thing but things don’t “feel” clean after I use it. This sun salute is nice alternative to me.
I’m not a huge fan of room sprays (but I used to use Febreeze a lot before I realized how irritating artificial fragrances were / when I lived in an old apartment) but I was intrigued by the From Molly with Love smudge spray. I use it mostly in our home office / craft room / clean laundry depository when I know I may be in there working for a few hours and it helps to make the space and my cerebral tasks more light and airy.
We’re also almost done with our Murchison-Hume fabric refresher. I picked up a mini travel size kit of Murchison Home products at a gift shop in Newport, RI the other year. Later I was surprised to see the brand featured on Marcus Lemonis’ The Profit (my favorite non-bravo or premium cable TV show). The scent gets a bit old after a while. We also got the dog spray but haven’t used it yet – still not sure if I would recommend this brand.