Safe and natural cleaning agents will simplify your life

If one of your New Year's resolutions was to cut down on the number of hazardous chemicals you use in your home (we're talking oven cleaners, bleach and other supplies that have proven to be toxic), you're in luck; and you're likely going to save a lot of money thanks to this decision.

It can be easy to be tricked into thinking you need a new cleaner for every surface and fabric in your home, but that's not necessary. Cleaning is cleaning, and as long as you use non-abrasive products, you don't have to worry about which surfaces interact well with various chemicals. Simplify your life with these natural cleaning must-haves:

Vinegar and water: For surfaces that are unlikely to need powerful disinfecting (the doors of your kitchen cabinets, your windows, the countertops of your vanity cabinets, etc)., mix 1 cup of vinegar with 5 cups of water. Add this mixture to a spray bottle and use as you would any multi-purpose cleaner.

Borax: Borax is a common brand name of sodium tetraborate, and its powdery texture makes it a great substitute for chemicals you'd otherwise use to scrub your oven or toilet bowl. Sodium tetraborate is a naturally occurring compound, making it much more family-friendly than other cleaners.

Safe and natural cleaning products to simplify your life

Safe and natural cleaning products to simplify your life

Soap and water: Don't make the mistake of thinking that antibacterial soaps clean any more effectively than plain old soap and water. The FDA is currently reviewing such claims, as recent research has shown that in addition to causing the growth of antibacteria-resistant organisms, the use of too many antibiotics can interfere with normal hormone cycles.

Castile soap: What makes Castile soap different from other varieties? It is olive oil-based and safe for sensitive skin. Use Castile soap to clean your body, shampoo your hair and even craft a homemade laundry detergent.

Now we get to the age-old debate: sponges vs. newspaper / paper towels. One is washable (often we hope), the other is disposable. One has been shown to retain germs; not so the other. This is an ongoing discussion at our home: where do you stand on this?