Even if you’ve grown up using Clorox bleach or Tide pods, your grocery list for cleaning duds may change a good deal when you start having kids. Many new mothers and pregnant women find themselves scouring the web for natural, nontoxic cleaning brands that aren’t harmful to babies. The only trouble is that the catchall term natural can be misleading — natural substances are often combined with synthetics and toxins within “natural” products — while some brands won’t even disclose all of their ingredients in the first place. For insider knowledge on where to find the best kid-safe and nontoxic products, we consulted three mothers with a vested interest in environmental health and green solutions — Lori Alper of Groovy Green Living, Lotus of Mommy to Max, and journalist and author Alexandra Zissu — for their recommendations.
“Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder is amazing. This detergent doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, dyes and synthetic fragrance, toxins, preservatives, and GMOs. It’s also safe for septic systems and high-efficiency washers.” —Lori Alper
“GreenShield Organic Detergent was created by a dad on a mission to protect families from the harmful chemicals found in most cleaning products. Their products are certified organic, and it received an A in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.” —Alper
“And I mentioned it as a detergent, but GreenShield’s Organic All-Purpose Cleaner is also one of my favorites. It has only six ingredients and does a good job of getting rid of dirt and debris all over the home.” —Alper
“This cleaner has a light, fresh smell and is effective at cleaning most things around the house. It has very few ingredients and the ones that are rated the lowest [editor’s note: The lower ranking signifies less toxicity] by the Environmental Working Group. A common toxic chemical in all-purpose cleaners is 2-Butoxyethanol, a solvent that soaks through skin and damages red blood cells, which this doesn’t have.” —Lotus
“Check out ECOS Dishmate Hypoallergenic Dish Soap. It comes in five different scents, including an unscented ‘free and clear’ option. My favorite is the grapefruit scent. It cuts through grease and grime without a problem.” —Alper
“This is probably my favorite product compared to the leading product (Windex). I used to dread cleaning windows because the smell was so overpowering. Many Windex products contain ammonia, but this glass cleaner’s scent is light and fresh, and in my opinion, it cleans my glass and windows even better than Windex.” —Lotus
“In terms of products I use daily and weekly: vinegar, water, hydrogen peroxide, Castile soap. That’s pretty much all you need for anything. And all are as safe as it gets. Cleaning wood floors with vinegar and water is even edible — good news if you have a crawling baby who is putting hands to mouth constantly. You can lazily mix these things together or you can follow actual recipes for them. A great resource is a book called Better Basics for the Home by Annie Bond. I also use a vacuum with a HEPA filter (these do not allow small particulates to blow back around into the air as you vacuum) and have a shoes-off policy in my home. The stuff that gets tracked inside on shoes (lead residue, auto exhaust, etc.) is bad news.” —Alexandra Zissu
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