Spring Cleaning Tip of the Day: Phase out toxic cleaners gradually

When I first started learning about the toxins lurking in my household cleaners, I went emoted my way through an abbreviated version of Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief. First  I was skeptical. I thought these fluorescent yellow, lemon-smelling liquids were supposed to be killing germs and making everything better—now you’re saying they’re bad for me? Then I experienced a combination of anger and denial: How could I have been deceiving myself all these years? Finally, I reached a state of acceptance: I needed to get rid of them.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner–a natural alternative to toxic concoctions

For many in a similar boat, it can be overwhelming at first. Once you know the truth, you may be seized by a desire to rid your home of everything at once. That is fine—just make sure to take them to a hazardous waste facility. Don’t flush them down the toilet or let them sit around your house for all eternity!

The other option, if you hate the idea of tossing out all these cleaners you spent good money on, is to phase them out gradually. Simply use them up, then replace them with something better for you and the planet.

Have you phased out toxic cleansers? How did it go? Remember—you, too, can reach a state of acceptance regarding this sensitive topic.


  1. Yes, we’ve basically phased them out. Though I do still have some toilet cleaner lurking in the back of my (locked) vanity cabinet. That will be discarded as soon as it is used up (I can’t bring myself to waste them, I just use them up and don’t replace).

    I love using safe, nontoxic and cheap cleaning products. No worrying if the cats (or my daughter) licks the still-wet post-mop floor. We use a lot of white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, tea tree oil, elbow grease, and Dr. Bronners. And occasionally a bit of chlorine bleach for those raw chickeny dishes.

    My favorite all-purpose cleaner: 1:1 white vinegar and water + a dash of tea tree oil + a dash of dish soap or Dr. Bronners. Shake before use.

    Oh, and a new tip – I now clean the shower with the same soap I use to clean myself (the aforementioned Dr. Bronners). When I’m all soaped up I just use an old pouf to soap up the walls and tub. Saves tons of time, and is super easy. And I don’t care if I get wet or soapy. (I still do a hard scrub once in a while with baking soda, but for a weekly thing this works great.)

  2. When we switched I put all of our old cleaners in a box marked FREE when we had a yard sale. Everything was gone by the end of the day.

  3. I’m planning to phase out gradually, as well.

    We have a ton of cleaners that my husband’s mom bought for him before we were married – and I never use them. Plus, we still have doubles of things from when my husband and I got married and combined households. I think before our next garage sale, I’m going to go through the cupboards and thin things out. Otherwise, my 8-month son will be in high school before I run out of chemical cleaners! 🙂

  4. we also did the gradual phase out. I like the way “green cleaners” have simplfied our purchasing and storage of cleaning products. One spray bottle of diluted natural all purpose cleaner we get in bulk at our food co-op, one spray bottle of vinegar water, one tub of baking soda. Easy and cheap.

  5. I have made the switch and love using natural cleaning products! They are so simple and have the best natural smells (especially if you use lemon essential oil- that is my favorite!). Natural cleaners work extremely well and you don’t have to worry about all those extra chemicals-for the most part I use a lot of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, and Biokleen natural dish soap.

  6. Mistie McDonald says

    I have phased out nearly all of my chemical’s.The only ones in the house right now is 1almost used bottle of bleach (white vinegar disinfect just like bleace btw),the laundry detergent that just doesn’t seem to go away..it’s concentrated and is taking FOREVER to run out,murphy’s oil soap for my wood floors and pinesol.
    I decided to phase mine out due to my severe asthma that is chemically induced. I am so thankful I did as well.
    Now for the most part I use only white or apple cider vinegar.Depends on the task but white vinegar mostly,lots of baking soda,borax for the toilet(makes the prettiest sparkle ever),soap nuts for babies clothes and eventually mine and my guys as soon as the laundry soap runs out and tree tree oil.
    How I got rid of most of my chemicals is I gave them to my next door neighbor.who I might add is slowly converting to natural cleaning!

  7. I agree that it’s a great idea to replace cleaners with something greener as you need to replace them. I actually ended up changing all my cleaners at once, b/c I was a paranoid new parent. I gave all my old cleaners to a friend who wasn’t interested in switching and on a tight budget. I didn’t feel bad about it since I knew she would have bought them anyway. One less bottle of 409 purchased!

  8. Yes, the only thing I still have is lysol for killing mold and when someone gets the pukies. I haven’t found any natural cleaner to do a good enough job on the mold to which I am pretty allergic and when someone gets the pukies I take no chances – I can’t afford the sick days. I don’t even know if Lysol is bad, but if it is and someone knows something better, I’m willing to try it.

    I remember when I first started phasing out the cleaners and staring down a costco sized bottle of 409 that was 75% full. I was trying to decide if it was worse to use it to clean my home or worse to pour it down the drain. I can’t even remember what I did with it. Most of the stuff I clean with is stuff I’d be okay with my kids putting in their mouths. Even though they are old enough not to do that, they still touch everything and then touch their mouths and faces. Now that I have gotten used to not breathing toxic fumes while I clean, I think I have become hypersensitive and can’t stand the smell of things like 409.

  9. I actually had to move and didn’t want to take all of my old cleaners across country with me (in the car with my 3 kids and 2 pets) so when I had to get new cleaners for the new home I went with natural cleaners (7th gen) as i am phasing myself in to the green movement!

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