Pregnancy can bring both nesting (clean house!) and nausea (boo!), so what better time to find some more natural friendly cleaners. While the March of Dimes says that most commercial cleansers are safe during pregnancy, many women find the smells overwhelming or would rather just be on the safe side when it comes to chemical exposure. Here are a few tips for reputable natural cleaners. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments!
White Vinegar is an inexpensive and effective natural cleanser. Mixed in a spray bottle with water and some essential oils (which can help cover the vinegar smell), it can be used all over the house. Vinegar works well for cleaning surfaces, mopping floors, even shining metal fixtures in the bathroom, and is perfect for windows without the overpowering odor or chemicals in ammonia-based window cleaners. This is really a perfect all-around product that can easily be used throughout the house.
Keeping a spray bottle filled with a vinegar/water solution makes cleaning with less toxic products so much easier and you can include your children in household cleaning!
Essential oils are a great addition if you are switching over to natural products for cleaning. They can be added to mixtures of vinegar and water or used with other cleansers as they too have antibacterial properties.
Some helpful essential oils for cleaning include orange, lemon, and grapefruit oils (if you prefer the refreshing citrus scents), lavender, tea tree oil, or a Thieves blend (which includes cinnamon, clove, rosemary and eucalyptus). Essential oils can make a lovely addition to your household cleaning arsenal. Talk to somebody trained in essential oils to learn more about their many uses throughout pregnancy.
Fresh lemon is an alternative cleaner that you probably even have in your fridge. Lemon can be used to shine brass fixtures, copper pots, or chrome. In the kitchen lemon can help get stains out of wooden cutting boards or to freshen garbage disposals and even on your hands to remove smells from chopping foods.
If you want to combine lemon and vinegar for a ready-to-use spray cleaner, fill a glass jar halfway with vinegar and add leftover lemon rinds (cooking/juice remnants). Soak for a week or more until the lemon has seeped into the vinegar. The vinegar and lemon will make a lovely citrus scented liquid that will clean and disinfect normal household messes and smell better than just plain vinegar. Pour into your spray bottle with some water to dilute (50/50 works great) and you have an inexpensive, homemade and safe cleaner.
When you need a more abrasive cleanser, baking soda is inexpensive and practical. It can be used to scrub tub or shower floors, as a paste to shine silver, and even to scrub a toilet. With a toothbrush it works great on grout, and other areas that need some scrubbing.
For mildly clogged drains, baking soda can be used along with vinegar and boiling water. Just pour baking soda down the drain, pour in vinegar and plug the drain for about ten minutes. The baking soda and vinegar will react together (remember the volcano project from fourth grade?) and often will push a clog out of the way. Open the drain and pour in about a gallon of boiling water to finish cleaning. This frequently works and does so without the very strong chemicals found in commercial drain cleaners.
Dr Bronner's Soap:
Dr Bronner's “Magic” Soap is a household staple for anybody born after 1965. (I grew up with this stuff! It reminds me of childhood.) Available now in lots of different scents, Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap is a must to have on hand for natural cleaning. They have dozens of different cleaning ideas on their blog, and if you are interested in buying things in bulk, you can always find Dr Bronner's soap in great big bottles at your local natural foods store.
Like many of the others, you can add a bit of Dr Bronner’s liquid soap to your vinegar spray or simple water for an easy, natural cleaner. You can even use Dr Bronner’s to clean your dog and avoid most of the chemicals found in traditional anti-flea dog shampoos. It removes all the dirt and gunk and leaves your dog smelling much less like a dog. For conventionally-grown vegetables, a few drops of Dr Bronner’s in rinse water can remove wax and pesticides.
Not only do these natural cleaners work well without bringing on headaches, once you have children in your house you can rest easier knowing that even if you children do get into the cleaning closet, the things in there won’t hurt them.
Then again, of the many suggestionss we had for avoiding toxic cleaning chemicals during pregnancy, our favorite just might be hiring a maid!
(A special thanks to all of our Birth Boot Camp instructors who offered advice and ideas for this article. We are so lucky to have them!)