Chemical-based cleaning products have drawbacks: They’re pricey, they may trigger health issues and their manufacture, use and disposal can harm the environment. So if you’re approaching a spring cleaning of your home this year, why not consider these effective all-natural cleaning alternatives?

Common commercial cleaners are loaded with toxic and polluting substances designed to make domestic life easier. The cost of these chemical-based products can be high: long-term health concerns for the family and environmental pollution caused by their manufacture and disposal.

Here is a list of common, environmentally safe ingredients that you can use alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications. The vast majority of cleaning projects can be tackled with nothing more than vinegar, baking soda, soap, and water, but other ingredients are useful for specific jobs.

  • Lemons are nature’s cleaning wunderkind. They have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties and are a natural deodoriser due to their high acidic content. Here are some suggestions for how to use lemons in your home:
    Have your copper pans lost their shine? Dip half a lemon in salt or baking powder to scour your pans to their former glory. Mix a bit of lemon juice with baking soda to remove stains from plastic containers. Combine lemon peel and white vinegar in a jar, allow to marinate for a few days, then strain out the peel to use the vinegar as a cleaner. A small dish containing vinegar and lemon juice will absorb odours. Rub a slice of lemon across your chopping board to disinfect the surface.

  • Baking soda, like lemon, is another one of nature’s cleaners. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, this mildly alkaline substance functions as a gentle abrasive, deodorant and more.

    A thick paste of baking soda and water can be useful in removing surface rust. A more liquid mixture of baking soda and water can function as an all-purpose light cleaner that’s particularly effective on grease.

  • White vinegar is a weak acetic acid that can be used in almost all aspects of home cleaning, as it has strong antibacterial properties.

    Vinegar diluted in water is an effective stain remover for various textiles. It’s also a great natural deodoriser, and can be combined with various other natural products, such as lemon juice, to absorb odours. Simmer vinegar with water on the stove while cooking to prevent cooking odours. Vinegar can help remove strong scents left over from fish, onion and garlic too.

  • Eucalyptus oil has a wonderful fresh, clean fragrance. The proven disinfectant and antiseptic properties of Eucalyptus Oil and Spray make them a natural, environmentally friendly cleaner with numerous household uses. They are non-toxic for sinks, drains, toilets and our waterways.

    Eucalyptus oil can be used in the kitchen, bathroom and is ideal for cleaning hard surface floors. Eucalyptus Spray is a perfect convenient natural freshener, ideal for the toilet, bathroom and sick room and for clearing stale smoke fumes. People will be amazed at how clean and fresh the house smells.

  • Citrus solvent cleans paintbrushes, oil and grease, and some stains. But beware: citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.

  • Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant. However, some safety concerns with isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) make other forms of alcohol the more cautious choice. Vodka is a potent odour remover, and other forms of ethanol (grain alcohol) can be used for cleaners and disinfectants.

Healthy Home Cleaning Habits

Exchange Indoor Air

Many modern homes are so tight there’s little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any

installed exhaust fans.

In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide – windows and doors,

and let fresh air in quickly for about five minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as ‘heat sinks’,

and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained.

Minimize Dust

Remove clutter that collects dust, such as old newspapers and magazines. Try to initiate a ‘no-shoes-indoors’ policy.

If you’re building or remodelling a home, consider a central vacuum system; this eliminates the fine dust that portable

vacuum cleaners recirculate.

If you or your children suffer from dust mite allergies, keeping humidity low and vacuuming regularly can help.

Dust mites tend to accumulate in bedding, so washing bed linens regularly in hot water is a good practice.

Keep Bedrooms Clean

Most time at home is spent in the bedrooms. Keep pets out of these rooms, especially if they spend time outdoors.

Use Gentle Cleaning Products

Of the various commercial home cleaning products, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners are

the most toxic.

Avoid products containing ammonia or chlorine, or petroleum-based chemicals; these contribute to respiratory

irritation, headaches and other complaints.

Clean from the Top Down

When house cleaning, save the floor or carpet for last. Clean window blinds and shelves first and then work

downwards. Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

Clean Up After Pets

Owning a pet means dealing with fur, dander, tracked-in dirt, and accidents of various sorts.

Keep your pet brushed to cut down on fur balls, vacuum often, and train them to use only certain pieces of furniture.