These are the cleaning products I have tested and use. After many years of trying different products and DIY recipes, these are the products I have settled on. I have also looked at what the most chemically sensitive folks tolerate and use.
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Cleaning Products for the Chemically Sensitive
An All-Purpose Cleaner
You can clean many surfaces with simple and cheap products – Vinegar, or baking soda.
Seventh Generation makes a scent-free dish soap that makes a very good all-purpose cleaner. You can use it on dishes, counters, floors (including wood), walls, and the bathroom.
You can even use this as a body soap, shampoo and laundry soap. It has two preservatives that are common and not exactly healthy. Though most tolerate it, some like to avoid this.
ECOS Dishmate is a good alternative for those that want to avoid those preservatives and most people do well with this one.
Scouring the Bathtub
I tried a lot of the DIY methods for tubs and none of them really did the job. In the end, after a lot of research into this, I decided on Magic Erasers.
They are made of a melamine plastic, are scent-free, and are safe as long as you don’t end up eating any of the particles it could leave behind (i.e. don’t use it on dishes).
Bon Ami can also work well.
Scrubbing the Toilet
To clean the toilet I tried natural methods like pouring vinegar or half a cup of lemon juice in the toilet bowl and letting it sit for 30 minutes.
You have to clean really often for this to work.
I ended up settling on Bon Ami as a much easier solution that most chemically sensitive folks do well with.
Cleaning Glass & Windows
A 50/50 vinegar and water solution works great. No need for Windex.
Or, even simpler – water and a microfibre cloth with!
You don’t need to add any product to this.
You can buy microfiber cloths on Amazon.
Polishing Stainless Steel
While lemon can remove hard-water marks, and baking soda with a scrubbing sponge can remove grime, a microfiber cloth will make it look shiny and new!
For the kitchen sink, use olive oil on a soft cloth to buff.
Baked on oil and food stains on a stainless steel kettle or cookie sheet can be removed with a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a while, it will work wonders.
The most liked natural metal cleaner is this one from ECOs. Most of the natural ones don’t work, or leave streaks. If you want something easy that works go with that one. The most sensitive folks have done well with it.
Cleaning Marble, Granite, and Stone
Seventh Generation Granite and Stone is the best cleaner (it does have an orange scent).
Some wood furniture can be polished with one of the drying oils featured here. It really depends on what is already on the wood.
For a matte dark wood, like my rocking chair, I tried concentrated black tea (cooled to room temperature). It looked great but left the wood feeling slightly tacky.
Rubbing walnuts on wood furniture worked surprisingly well to remove scratches! (Works on wood floors too).
A hairdryer can help to remove rings left by water. Follow with a polish.
Removing Stains & Mold
I have used it as a non-toxic way to remove stains from marble as well.
I use the Magic Erasers to remove stains from walls. They are non-toxic as long as you don’t digest it. For that reason, I don’t use them on countertops.
Air Fresheners for the Chemically Sensitive
Simmering Recipes for the Home
I tried various natural air fresheners: including the popular Pinterest post of simmering vanilla, rosemary, and lemon. This method was so-so at producing an aroma (if you grate the lemon rind before adding it to get the lemon scent out).
I also tried simmering black tea with spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) as well, which worked, but only slightly.
Food-Based Aromas for the Home
If you cannot tolerate simmering spices to create aromas, but need to have your house smelling good because you are selling it, you can brew coffee or bake cookies in the oven at that time.
This is a wonderful and safe way to add that feel-good feeling to a house viewing.
Potted herbs like basil could produce a nice aroma if you have a good amount of it at full growth. It’s not very noticeable for many people. Other herbs like thyme and oregano have even less of an aroma.
Wood and Plant-Based Aromas for the Home
A natural “mothball” which protects clothes and may also be a pleasant aroma for many, is real cedarwood placed around clothes in the closet.
Folks have said just the wood is enough to protect the clothes from moths.
If you really like the smell of cedar, you can add cedarwood essential oil.
Eucalyptus branches from the florist have a significant aroma to them. You can make a pretty strong impression in a room with a vase of dried eucalyptus.
I personally like using sweetgrass, which is a traditional native American plant.
Natural Beeswax Candles
Beeswax candles are an alternative to scented candles. Even soy candles are not usually suitable for the chemically sensitive.
But beeswax candles have a gentle and more subtle natural aroma that is tolerable for most chemically sensitive folks.
Removing Malodors, Naturally without Scents
You may also consider removing odors instead of adding scents.
Enzyme Cleaners to Break Down Odors
Strategies like using enzyme cleaners to properly and safely break down and degrade pet odors (and other problematic odors) is a great way to get a proper clean.
Clean has no smell, and even if you are staging the house to sell it, no odor could be a selling point.
Sorbent Materials (Absorb Odors)
To absorb odors, I like charcoal sachets used around the house.
Zeolite absorbs odors and it can be used as a powder that is vacuumed up, or as a spray (I’m not a proponent of those methods because it’s not safe to breathe in zeolite that has been sprayed or dispersed around a room). It is safer to use in sachets.
Mineral Technologies to Break Down Odors
ZorbX is an interesting product. They don’t mention any ingredient which is normally a red flag for me. By reading the patent one could guess that it is made of zinc salt of ricinoleic acid, and a solubility promoter including sodium iminodisuccinate, and water.
Some versions of Zorbx are unscented though the patent says they might contain antifungals (which I have had problems with in the past). Not knowing what’s in it and if it contains an antifungal makes me a little wary, however, I go by my own reactions to products.
EnviroKlenze is a company that makes many odor-neutralizing sprays made of minerals and metals. They have quite a few formulas but they are all very similar. Folks do report that these work well on some odors and not as well on others.
Their Everyday Odor Eliminator is one of the products that can be used around the house. It contains, magnesium hydroxide/magnesium oxide, zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Titanium oxide is one that I have concerns about breathing in if it does get into dust form.
Essential Oils for the Chemically Sensitive?
I’m not a fan of essential oils for the chemically sensitive. But if you do tolerate them you should use a water-free nebulizer (so that you don’t raise humidity too much). Keep in mind, in attached housing, this affects neighbors (who might be chemically sensitive).
If diffusing is too harsh, you can dilute them and spray them around the house or on cotton balls in strategic places.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 6 years of experience helping others create healthy homes. I have lived with environmental sensitivities for most of my life.
For individual help on choosing the best products and materials for you and your home, you can schedule a consultation with me here.
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