12/09/2014 11:43 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST

How to Clean Your House, Naturally

Andy Reynolds via Getty Images

Of course you want to have your house clean for the holidays! Even though we know our company comes to see us and not our dust bunnies, it is a matter of pride to open a home that sparkles. But what is clean? Sure we've become more aware of the environmental impact of what we're using but what about the effect of cleaning chemicals on our skin and respiratory systems.

Many conventional cleaning products and services can leave behind lingering phosphates, toxic residues, petroleum derived surfactants and irritating synthetic fragrances. All of these chemicals are absorbed or inhaled as you clean and can linger to irritate the lungs and skin of people, kids and pets that come in contact with them. What you really want is a safe, spotless, healthy home that's free from irritants and health hazards.

The liver takes the biggest impact of toxic chemicals. Along with the over 500 jobs your liver does, including managing cholesterol and hormone levels, it has to filter your blood of things like alcohol, acetaminophen and other medications, air "fresheners" and plain old smog. I would rather have my wine than cheap bathtub cleaner, thanks. You'll want to look for products that are:

• 100% natural and eco cert (r) approved

• Using organic essential oils for scent

• Non-carcinogenic

• Free from petroleum ingredients

• Not allergenic for allergy and asthma sufferers

• Safe for those with chemical sensitivities

• Gentle on all skin and non-irritating

• Look at labels to confirm that the products you buy disclose all ingredients clearly and are free from dyes, SLS, SLES, preservatives, ethoxylated alcohols, fragrance and petroleum

I had the pleasure of having my home cleaned by Aspen Clean. It's an innovative British Columbia-based company that's just moved to Toronto offers home cleaning products and services.

They use only their own products and each and every one of them meets the requirement list. There's a kitchen cleaner that is safe and effective on greasy mess, a bathroom cleaner that is excellent for removing soap scum without harsh chemicals, an all purpose cleaner that is great for all surfaces but leaves no toxic residue and a Glass Cleaner Streak delivers a streak free shine using only pure lime essential oils. My home smelled like the outdoors rather than a forest of toxic fake pine. Clean for the holidays is more than skin deep.


  • Banana Peel
    Banana Peel
    Use a banana peel to polish your silverware -- blend the peels with a little bit of water to make a polishing paste.
  • Cucumber
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    Use cucumber slices to polish stainless steel pots, pans or your faucet and sink. Also use it to remove marks from walls -- it works like an eraser.
  • Onions
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    Get your grill piping hot and use an onion half (stuck onto the prongs of a long-handled fork) to scrub the grates clean.
  • Tea
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    Use your used tea bags (cooled) to clean wood surfaces like cabinets and floors and use the cooled tea as a polish -- the tea's tannins do all the work of cleaning.
  • Walnuts
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    Use a walnut half to remove scratches from wood cabinetry or furniture -- its natural oils help lift scratches.
  • Rice
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    Use a small amount of rice to clean out your coffee grinder -- just whizz and dump.
  • Ketchup
    Use ketchup to polish all kinds of copper: pots, pans and bowls. The natural acidity of the tomatoes will make the copper shine.
  • Stale Bread
    Stale Bread
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    Use stale bread to clean your spice grinder or coffee grinder -- it will remove any leftover residue and smell.
  • Coffee Grinds
    Coffee Grinds
    Use used coffee grinds as a hand scrub or a cleaning scrub for greasy surfaces. You can also use the grinds to deodorize your fridge.
  • Club Soda
    Club Soda
    Use club soda to remove stains from fabrics and carpeting. It's also great for cleaning your cast-iron skillet -- just pour some into your hot skillet after cooking and let it work its magic.
  • Olive Oil
    Olive Oil
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    Use olive oil to buff your stainless steel pots and pans. Also use it to clean your cast-iron skillet -- make a paste with some coarse salt and scrub.
  • Salt
    Coarse salt is great as a natural scouring agent. Use it to scrub your wood cutting board (with a lemon half). Pour some table salt onto an oven spill to make it easier to clean up later. Table salt also works to lift a fresh wine stain from a tablecloth -- wash the fabric soon after.
  • Lemon
    The natural acidity of lemons is great for cleaning. Use a lemon half to clean and remove stains from your wood cutting board and use it to polish your copper (with some baking soda). It also works to remove lime scale from your kitchen faucet. Put a lemon half down your garbage disposal to deodorize.
  • Vinegar
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    White vinegar can be used as an all-purpose surface cleaner -- for tough cleaning use it straight but for general cleaning halve it with water. Also use vinegar to remove water stains from glasses.