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Ditch those harsh chemicals: how to detox your home in seven simple steps

Adopting a natural approach to cleaning is easy - try these ideas

23 August 2020 - 00:02 By Robin Hill
The next time you clean the house, consider what it would be like to get the same results without using harsh chemicals.
The next time you clean the house, consider what it would be like to get the same results without using harsh chemicals.
Image: 123RF/milkos

Like most people, you probably have kitchen and bathroom cupboards overflowing with sprays, scrubs, wipes and disinfectants. You may use them to get your house clean and fresh, but there's a real chance they're not doing you or your family much good in the long term.

According to research done by the Endocrine Society of Australia, there are more than 80,000 known chemicals in our everyday environment, some of which are thought to cause reproductive, neurological or immune disorders in humans.

An Australian study also points out that 21.5% of poisoning cases in children under the age of five are caused by accidental exposure to household cleaning products. Many of these products are also linked to health issues in adults such as cancer, fertility problems, neurotoxicity and hormonal disruption. With this in mind, moving away from toxic chemicals to more natural products is even more important.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to begin detoxing your home and adopting a natural approach to cleaning is easy.


It may take some getting used to but using a simple microfibre cloth with water to wipe down kitchen benches really works. Laura Trotta, founder of Home Detox Boot Camp, says: "For stubborn stains, use a combination of water, lemon oil and Castile liquid soap (see recipe, below). It's effective in cutting through grime."

A good-quality microfibre cloth can last up to two years if cleaned regularly to get rid of bacteria build-up. Wash in the dishwasher and dry in the sun. 

How to make your own kitchen cleaning spray: Fill a 240ml glass spray bottle (available online) with water adding 20ml Castile liquid soap and 10 drops of lemon essential oil.


The gloves required for most oven cleaners are an indication of their toxicity, but they're not the only option. Earthsap Oven and Hob Spray has been tested by microbiologists to ensure it is safe to use both in and around the house, and has no residual toxic side effects in the ocean. Made with natural ingredients, it gives an effective clean. Get it online at faithful-to-nature.co.za, or your local health store.


Freeze flour for 24 hours after buying. This will kill any germs that may be in the product, says Trotta. She also recommends scattering dry bay leaves throughout your pantry or in rice, flour or pasta containers to kill off weevil eggs. And if you live in a humid climate, consider keeping your flour in the fridge.

How to make your own natural roach repellent: Mix 1 cup salt, 500ml water and ½ tsp lavender essential oil in a one-litre glass spray bottle. Spray around any areas that have cockroaches (it will work for small infestations).


To get rid of soap scum in the bathroom, use bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on a wet microfibre cloth. If your toilet is discoloured, put of a cup of citric acid into the toilet bowl and leave overnight (turn off the cistern). This will also help get rid of bacteria such as E.coli. Give it a good scrub in the morning.

Image: Supplied


Mould is a health issue in many households and can cause a multitude of conditions such as insomnia, recurring colds and flu and sinusitis. Getting rid of mould depends on
finding and treating the sources of moisture. To clean non-porous surfaces, use a solution of 80% white vinegar to 20% water. For porous surfaces, such as untreated timber, use a 70% alcohol solution.


Pull your sheets back every day and put your pillows out in the sun to air as often as possible. If you have a carpet in your bedroom, make sure you use the right kind of vacuum cleaner to remove dust. As ordinary vacuums send dust into the air, experts recommend using one that has a HEPA filter and a vibrating power head.


Sensitivity to electromagnetic fields is something few of us think about yet we often have power points close to our beds with all manner of devices plugged into them. "These technologies were introduced with little regard for their impact on human health," says naturopath Nicole Bijlsma from Building Biology. If this is too hard to avoid, try turning off all your appliances at the wall and leave your phone in another room overnight. - Bauerrsyndication.com.au/Magazinefeatures.co.za