Living Lightly

With Natural Cleaners, Kids Can Clean Too

You might need to hide this post from any children, or else I’m sure to hear some, “Gee, Thanks” complaints from them. Nonetheless, herein lies one of the biggest perks for me of natural house cleaning. Not only is most of this stuff safe to use around children, it is also safe for children to use.

Prior to my switch to natural house cleaners, my house cleaning was more of a covert operation. I didn’t want my kids breathing the fumes while I was cleaning and I didn’t want them coming up behind me and getting ahold of a spray bottle. (Yep, that happened once. My first call to poison control. Just so you know, one spray of Formula 409 in the mouth isn’t considered a problem. At least not to them.) And so I was left to cleaning late at night while they were in bed, or during those precious few nap hours.

However, now that I use house cleaners mostly made from things meant to go in or on the body, the kids can help clean the messes they help make.

It takes a little bit of pretense on my part to make housecleaning sound like great fun, but anything they can do is one less thing that I have to do, and more time is left for having fun. So, one kid really likes the squeegee, so that one “gets” to do mirrors and windows, with a spray solution of diluted vinegar or pure club soda. My 5-year old likes spray bottles and a bright, child-sized scrub brush I found, so that means bathroom sinks and counters, using the All-Purpose Spray made with Sal Suds or Castile Soap. Maybe things aren’t quite as sparkly or streak-free as if I did it myself, but you know what they say about practice and perfection.

As a first step, kids can be cleaning their own toys with non-toxic green cleaners. That will certainly turn some chores into play time!

When the kids clean with these solutions, it’s OK if they accidentally leave some of the solution on the surfaces. The residue isn’t harmful. There aren’t any fumes to worry about. If any of the spray ends up on – or in – my kids, there is no need to call poison control. (I am not recommending drinking Castile Soap or Sal Suds. It will probably cause a slight tummy ache. And I would wait until a child has enough coordination to direct a spray bottle away from his or her face.)

I still prepare the solutions myself because there are a few ingredients that go into my natural house cleaning solutions that are very potent full strength. I am thinking of the essential oils.

It has taken me a while to arrive at this realization – that these cleaning solutions are safe enough for kids to use. And now it has really changed how we, as a family, do housecleaning. Otherwise, I don’t know how long I would have waited before I was comfortable cleaning with my kids in the room, or even how much longer beyond that before they themselves could start learning how to clean a house. Now, I am hoping that since they are cleaning up the messes of their own making, perhaps they might be a little more conscientious about not making the messes in the first place. We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that one.

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Abbe M says:

Any thoughts on which product to use and how to use it to clean baby toys that always end up in our little one’s mouth? Is there a mixture I can just spray and let dry as opposed to washing and rinsing?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Abbe – You can make a spray with either Castile soap or Sal Suds – 1/4 c. of soap or 1 Tbsp. Sal Suds in a quart of water – or make a bucket of either with similar ratios. This cleans toys great. They do need to be wiped, though. There is no way to clean toys without a rinse or a wipe. Even if you had an antibacterial product that claims to do this, all it does is kill the bacteria and leave it there. And these are never safe for kids to have their mouths on. Either give toys a dunk in a bucket and rinse or take a cloth and dunk it in the bucket and wipe toys down.

Nancy says:

I love your cleaning products, and my children actually enjoy helping me clean. They are 8, almost 7 🙂 , and 1. My 1 year old is the best, and I don’t worry about him using the lavender, citrus, and tea tree when it is diluted in a spray bottle. Please keep producing a wonderful product. I try to spread the word because your 32 oz bottles last forever. Lisa, thank you, your products are the best natural cleaners I have found.

Mary says:

Where do you purchase your essential oils, such as tea tree, that you add to your cleaning solutions. It would be wonderful is they could be purchased through Dr Bronner’s on-line store.

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Mary – I purchase my oils through Frontier Natural Products. I’m part of a buying co-op and as long as we place orders of $250 or more, we get wholesale rates and free shipping. Anyone can set this up, so if you have a group of similarly minded people around you, look into it. You can also order through Fronier as an individual at the retail prices, which aren’t that bad. Otherwise, Henry’s and Whole Foods sell essential oils, as do many natural food and health stores. Let me know if you’re at a loss in finding them.


Louise says:

Good post Lisa. Great ideas. I remember on Oprah (!) her asking what did it matter if the kids did not fold the towels just as you like them? At least they are doing it. Same goes for the cleaning. Mary’s comments are spot on too.

Mary in FL says:

When kids help you clean the house, they learn responsibility and team work, learn useful skills, and lighten your load. Besides, when they get older you can embarrass them by telling people that your kids know how to clean the bathroom!


Lisa Bronner

Green means life. “Going Green” is living in such a way to promote vitality and vibrancy in every sphere of life. Grab an idea to make your days healthier, simpler, and more beautiful at their core.

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Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

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Sal Suds Cheat Sheet

Sal Suds, Sal Suds, How do I love thee?