Low Odor House Cleaning?
February 17, 2017 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm sensitive flower when it comes to sensitivity to chemicals and odors. I've had trouble finding anything to have cleaners clean my house with that doesn't end up making my eyes water and making it hard to breathe. Someone tried white vinegar and I found that just as bad a smell and irritant as chemical cleaners. Any suggestions for something all-natural (but low-irritant) and that cleans well enough that I wouldn't be imposing on anyone I hire to use it?
posted by Jon44 to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
White vinegar is harsh, but apple cider vinegar might be more pleasing to you? Or you can add essential oils to the white vinegar in a scent you can tolerate. (I like orange.)
posted by hydra77 at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2017

Peroxide is a good bleach substitute. But do not use both peroxide and vinegar as it creates a toxic chemical when they are combined.
posted by Michele in California at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2017

Steam? There are steam cleaners available meant for use around the entire house (not just carpets).
posted by marimeko at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am very sensitive to scented products, but Method products don't bother me at all.
posted by radioamy at 6:13 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

that's rough being that sensitive--i thought my scent issues were bad!

baking soda is a good abrasive.

borax is natural, has no scent, and can be used to clean floors and surfaces when combined with hot water. (it's what's used in my apartment for mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom)
posted by JBD at 6:26 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

We use these products and are very happy with them.
posted by Jacob G at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

The guy who installed our wood floors recommended washing them with Basic H by Shaklee. (Which, isn't Shaklee an MLM outfit? But I bought it at a regular flooring store.) It has no smell, seems to work well enough, and the old-fashioned typed product information sheet I received with mine said it was so gentle you could bathe in a solution of it. (Not in the sense of just making a point; that was literally one of their many suggested uses for it.) From their website it looks like there's a newer form called Basic H2 which is twice as concentrated.
posted by lakeroon at 8:47 PM on February 17, 2017

Oh, also I use Red Juice to clean bathroom surfaces as long as they're not crazy-dirty, and the kitchen counter when I get more ambitious than just going over it with a dishcloth. (Actually I have the concentrated version and dilute it myself.) Pretty sure it has no smell. They also make a Blue Juice which is good for glass and mirrors.
posted by lakeroon at 8:52 PM on February 17, 2017

I'm very sensitive as well. Vinegar gives me asthma. Regular cleaners give me headaches/dry mouth. I use a homemade cleaner that's basically water, a good glug of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dish soap. It works great, is extremely cheap and I can even add specific essential oils that I'm Ok with (lavender works for me), or leave it fragrance-free. Ascorbic acid works to dissolve limescale in the bathroom. Baking soda as a scrubbing agent is good as well. What's actually worst for me are products marketed as 'non-toxic'/natural that have huge amounts of weird essential oils in them....beware!
posted by The Toad at 8:56 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I third baking soda. Sprinkle on your rugs or carpet and leave for a few hours then vacuum up. It will absorb a lot of odors! It's the opposite of a lot of scent! Bleach also works well for me for surfaces, just dissolve a small amount into a gallon of hot water and it disinfects without leaving a residue or any odors. I also like to open some windows and put a box fan with the wind flow out of the window in one while cleaning, it really freshens up the air.

This may be too much scent but another trick I like is to boil some water on the stove with cinnamon sticks. It smells good to me, and Martha Stewart herself says that cinnamon also absorbs odors so win win.
posted by cakebatter at 10:14 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Eco store's fragrance-free range.
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 10:55 PM on February 17, 2017

I'm sensitive to certain chemical smells and Method's products are fine for me. My chemical sensitivity may not be your chemical sensitivity.
posted by bunderful at 5:57 AM on February 18, 2017

Have you tried the Method cleaners? Available usually at Target. They are scented, but not strongly, and do not smell chemical-y. They're also all natural.
posted by rachelpapers at 5:57 AM on February 18, 2017

Dr. Bronner's unscented baby soap is good soap that cleans well, that plus baking soda should do most jobs.

I love Dr. Bronner's sal suds, it has a natural pine-scent oil in it that I find really pleasant and it cleans amazing (super concentrated so one bottle lasts for ages) but if you react to all scents it's not for you.

I use diluted sal suds for floors but the unscented soap should work well too, I toss baking soda onto the soap for places with build-up (sink, toilet, bathtub) and use these amazing scrubbies for sinks, stoves, and bathtub and it works really well.
posted by lafemma at 6:12 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Use your own shampoo.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:57 AM on February 18, 2017

Bon Ami for sinks, fixtures, and tub. And seconding Dr. Bronner's unscented baby soap.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love Magic Erasers for kitchen and bathroom stuff. Just wet and scrub away.
posted by PJMoore at 7:47 PM on February 18, 2017

I usually use the 7th generation unscented ("free and clear") line (be careful — they're easy to confuse with the scented versions) and find them totally fine, and I'm really sensitive. You can usually find them in health food stores and sometimes in larger grocery stores. Whole Foods usually has them, too. Health food stores will likely also carry other similar options as well.

If those still bothers you, you can find things like this one at National Allergy specifically made for people with chemical sensitivity.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 6:11 AM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

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