Reducing the use of chemicals in your home and yard is good for your health, your family, your pets and the environment.
Chemicals found in household cleaners, plastic food storage containers, personal care products, and yard care products, such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, have been linked to chronic illnesses, cancer, allergies, hormone imbalance, asthma, cognitive impairment and an array of other health issues.
Chemicals found in conventional products also cause water, air and soil pollution, affect wildlife and significantly impact the environment.
You can reduce your family’s exposure to toxic substances and decrease your reliance on chemical-laden cleaning and personal care products by learning about the plethora of all-natural options available for everything from killing weeds to clearing clogged drains.
Here are 50 ways you can save money, go green and reduce the number of chemicals you and your family are exposed to every day.
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in the Laundry Room?
1. Stop using commercial fabric softeners, which are not necessary and can actually shorten the life of your clothes.
2. Add ½ cup to one cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle when doing laundry to help your clothes retain their color.
This is great for keeping dark clothes and blue jeans looking their best longer.
3. You might find that you never need bleach again if you start adding ½ cup to one cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle to whiten your whites.
4. You can also reduce your need for bleach by drying your whites on a clothesline in the sun.
5. Add either ½ cup vinegar or ½ cup baking soda to naturally soften clothes and linens.
6. Instead of using commercial laundry detergents, use all-natural soap nuts or make your own laundry detergent with grated bar soap, borax and washing soda.
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in the Bathroom?
7. Clean tougher toilet stains or rings with a pumice stone and a bit of elbow grease, instead of chemical toilet cleaners.
8. Opt for organic shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorants and shaving creams.
9. Make your own toothpaste with baking soda, vegetable glycerin and essential oils.
10. Make your own bath powder by mixing ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup corn starch.
For easy application, store this in a container with a powder puff or in an old-fashioned sugar shaker.
11. Get sparkling clean mirrors and glass shower doors by filling a spray bottle with a DIY all-natural glass cleaning solution that is half white vinegar and half water.
If you have been using a conventional glass cleaner with chemicals to wash your mirrors, shower doors and windows throughout your home, you will want to add just a bit of liquid dish soap to your spray bottle when you first switch to using water and vinegar.
This will remove the film left behind from commercial glass cleaners and help to ensure a streak-free shine.
12. Naturally disinfect bathroom surfaces with the same half-water, half-vinegar solution you use for cleaning glass surfaces.
You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil for an extra antibacterial punch.
13. When a more abrasive cleaner is necessary, such as for cleaning your bathtub, shower, tile or tile grout, make a paste out of baking soda and water.
Scrub your tile or tub with a sponge dipped in the paste, and then rinse.
14. Choose organic when it comes to bath towels, washcloths, facial tissue and toilet paper (yes, even conventional toilet paper is made with chemicals).
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in the Kitchen?
15. Clean your oven by spraying spills with a mix of one cup hot water, one teaspoon of borax, and two teaspoons of an all-natural dish soap or liquid soap.
Soak caked on spots for about 30 minutes before wiping up the spill.
16. Invest in a steam cleaner that cleans and disinfects your oven, counter tops, fridge and just about anything else using nothing but steam.
17. Choose plastic food storage containers that are BPA free.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a hormone disruptor linked to a variety of ailments that affect men, women and children.
18. Better yet, skip the chemicals in plastics completely by choosing glass food storage containers.
19. Clean and disinfect counter tops, the inside of your refrigerator, your stovetop and cabinet fronts with a half-white vinegar, half water solution in a spray bottle.
20. Cut a lemon in half and use it like a scrubber when you need even more cleaning power for counter tops, sinks and other kitchen surfaces.
When you are finished using your lemons for cleaning, run them through your sink’s garbage disposal to deodorize it.
21. Clean your sink drains by pouring one cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar.
Let the resulting reaction, which will include bubbling up, work on loosening the clog for 15 or 20 minutes, and then pour a pan of boiling water down the drain.
You may have to repeat this process a few times for stubborn drains.
22. Place an open box (or small bowl) of baking soda in your refrigerator as a natural deodorizer.
Be sure to replace your box or bowl regularly, since its deodorizing power will decrease over time.
23. Loosen microwave grime for easy wiping by putting white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl and microwaving it for a couple of minutes.
Keep the door closed with the bowl inside for about 15 minutes before removing it and wiping your microwave clean.
24. Undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle is a good disinfectant for cutting boards and work surfaces that get seriously messy.
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in Cooking?
25. Buy organic produce whenever possible to avoid consuming fruits and vegetables that have been produced using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
26. Stick to the outer aisles when grocery shopping.
Packaged convenience foods (like snack foods and boxed dinners) that are usually found in the center of the store are often packed with chemical additives, food dyes and all sorts of unnatural nastiness.
27. Skip non-stick cooking sprays that contain chemicals, and either buy chemical-free, organic cooking sprays, or purchase a pump oil mister that you can fill with organic olive oil for your cooking spray needs.
28. Avoid buying canned beans and vegetables whenever possible, or buy organic versions.
Many canned goods come in cans that contain BPA.
29. If you can your own food, either purchase canning jars that do not have BPA in the lid lining, or make sure to leave room at the top of the jar so that food does not touch the lid while it is being stored for later use.
30. Grow your own cooking herbs in a windowsill garden, a container garden on your patio, your vegetable garden or as part of your decorative flowerbeds to avoid buying herbs grown using chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
If you are not interested in growing your own herbs, look for a vendor selling organic herbs at your local farmers’ market.
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in My Garden?
31. Stop using chemical fertilizers, and make your own backyard compost pile for your soil-enrichment needs.
32. Use white vinegar in a spray bottle as an all-natural weed killer.
Keep in mind that vinegar will also kill plants you want to keep, so be careful where you spray it.
33. Use natural options like mulch, wood chips or bark as ground cover around plants to limit weed growth and reduce the need for herbicides.
34. Plant mint in your garden to keep ants away without chemical ant sprays.
35. Scatter cucumber peels or bay leaves around your patio to ward off ants and other insects.
36. Plant insect-repelling plants, like marigolds, rosemary or sage to keep pests out of your garden naturally.
37. Introduce good bugs to keep bad bugs away.
For example, a healthy lady bug population will keep aphids away from your roses or vegetable garden.
38. Use plenty of hardscape options in your landscaping to limit the need for caring for plants or grass with chemical products.
39. Add brewer’s yeast to your dog’s food to help keep the fleas away without chemical flea sprays.
40. Make your own flea spray to use on your pets by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
41. Another all-natural flea spray option that you can make yourself requires just a lemon, some water and a spray bottle.
Boil water on the stove, remove from the heat, and add a sliced lemon to the pot.
Allow this to steep for about eight hours, and then pour the liquid into a spray bottle for easy application.
42. Keep pesky insects away from your outdoor entertaining areas with citronella oil candles or citronella oil spray.
You can purchase all-natural candles made with soy wax and citronella essential oil, or make your own homemade citronella oil candles by pouring citronella oil into a glass bottle and inserting a tiki wick.
You can make a citronella oil insect spray by mixing a couple of ounces of olive oil, 50 or more drops of citronella essential oil and distilled water in a small spray bottle.
43. Choose organic fabrics and natural materials when buying patio furniture.
How Can I Reduce Using Chemicals on My Lawn?
44. When you mow your lawn, leave the grass clippings to break down into mulch that will improve soil quality.
45. Keep your natural grass lawn properly watered and aerated to limit the need for additional lawn care products.
46. If you choose to fertilize your conventional lawn with something other than your own compost or grass clippings, choose an organic fertilizer to avoid chemicals.
47. Install synthetic turf instead of a natural grass lawn.
Artificial grass requires no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides and will enhance the look and function of your yard by providing a lush, inviting lawn that will increase your home’s curb appeal.
How Can I Reduce Chemicals in Other Rooms of the House?
48. Make your own furniture polish for wood furniture by mixing one teaspoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of lemon juice and 15 drops of lemon essential oil.
Wood finishes vary greatly, so be sure to test this on a hidden spot first.
49. Avoid the nasty chemicals in commercial air fresheners by making your own all-natural room sprays.
Pick your favorite essential oil, or a combination of essential oils, and put a total of about 15 drops in a small spray bottle filled with distilled water.
Lavender, orange, rose and rosemary are popular essential oil choices for homemade air freshener sprays.
50. Make your own chemical-free sachets to freshen cabinets, closets and drawers by filling small fabric sachets with dried lavender, which can be grown in your garden or purchased at your local herb shop.
Final Thoughts on Reducing Chemicals in Your Home and Yard
As you can see, avoiding chemicals and limiting your family’s exposure to toxic substances is easier than most people think.
These simple, do-it-yourself solutions are effective, chemical-free options that get the job done without introducing chemicals that are known to cause cancer, induce asthma, disrupt hormones, aggravate allergies and cause skin irritation.
As an added bonus, all of these natural methods for taking care of household tasks are cheaper than their conventional counterparts, which means you get to save money while taking steps to keep your family healthy and lower you environmental impact.
Clean out the cupboard where you keep your household cleaners and yard care products, and replace them with the simple ingredients you need to make these all-natural, healthier options.
You likely have some or all of these items already in your kitchen, which means you can start reducing your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals today.
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): stock.xchng, johnnyberg; stock,xchng, pepo; stock.xchng, theswedish; stock.xchng, ajjoelle; stock.xchng, jeti87.