Spring Cleaning (when you're sensitive to chemicals)

It's spring at last! The season of flowers and lambs and... um... cleaning. Apparently.

I can't say that, in the past, I've ever felt a seasonal urge to scrub my house. This year, things are different. After several months of not being allowed to do much cleaning, I find myself actually wanting to wipe down the skirting boards - as much as Steve's been doing his best to keep on top of things, the flat is far from sparkling and I want to put that right. The nesting instinct is hitting me hard.

But I don't want to do this with chemicals.

I've always been sensitive to chemical products. I've only ever been able to use non-biological laundry powders. My frequent bouts of tonsillitis turned out to be a reaction to scented shampoos, perfumes and candles. I used to get rashes on my forearms the day after the cleaners wiped down our office and I once ended up in accident and emergency with full blown pneumonia because I had spent two weeks sat in a room with an air freshener.

And none of this is as unusual as it sounds.

With the baby on the way, I'm even more keen than ever to cut out chemicals. The one thing the local midwives have been strict about is not using toiletries on newborn babies and, if I'm not even supposed to use specialist baby shampoo on the kid, I definitely don't want him/her rolling around on a surface which has been cleaned with something bearing a big bad toxic logo on the back of its bottle.

Sarah cleaning a mirror

But finding gentle cleaning products hasn't always been easy. Several supermarkets do "sensitive" washing up liquid but trying to source unscented oven cleaners, floor polish or window spray is a challenge. I'm a big fan of those magic sponges (the only thing I've ever found which effectively cleans grout) and I occasionally mix up my own concoctions using things like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but, frankly, I don't have the storage space or the inclination to do that on a regular basis - I want the convenience of shop bought products.

I've also been stung several times buying "unscented" cleaning products which turned out to be full of smelly essential oils. "Natural" is not the same as "unscented"; I've had to throw them all out.

It was perfect timing, then, when The Healthy House asked if I wanted to try out some of their allergy-friendly cleaning products.

I had a wee chat with the women at The Healthy House about my sensitivities and the products I'm currently able to use - they were really helpful and made some recommendations based on my specific needs.

A couple of days later, a parcel arrived containing unscented bio-D bathroom cleaner and some sample sachets of Violet's unscented laundry powder. I strapped myself into my support belt and had a go at wiping down some surfaces.

bio-D Bathroom Cleaner

The back of the bio-D Bathroom Cleaner bottle said it was suitable for glass so I had a go at wiping some paw prints off the windows and cleaning a few mirrors and the results were... well... kind of streaky. It took a lot of buffing to get rid of the smears. But it did clean the dirt off and I think a little bit of elbow grease is a worthwhile trade off in return for pain-free lungs and an environmentally ethical product.

I actually found it a bit odd using the bio-D Bathroom Cleaner because it genuinely is unscented - no essential oils, no vinegary tang. It looks and smells like you're cleaning with water and, as much as that's what I've been searching for, it will take a bit of getting used to - but getting used to it, I will do!

Sample sachet of Violet's Unscented Laundry Powder

Next, I tried the Violet's laundry powder. I'll admit: I was hesitant about this. I've had so many bad reactions to so many supposedly gentle laundry powders that I'm reluctant to try anything new.

Three loads of laundry later, however, I'm convinced. It takes hardly any powder to do a wash (each of the sample sachets can do two loads), the ingredients are all natural, yet my clothes came out of the machine clean and free from odours. I've been wearing clothes washed with Violet's laundry powder for a week now and have suffered absolutely no reactions.

Towels cleaned with Violet's have come out fluffy and the random food stains all washed out of our dishtowels. But what interested me most was that the microfibre cloths we use instead of paper towels came out soft and smooth which, for us, is completely unheard of. As we want to use microfibre cloths instead of baby wipes whenever possible, this is very much a selling point for me.

Stack of clean towels

The Healthy House has a frankly mind boggling array of products for people with allergies and sensitivities from simple cleaning solutions to air purifiers, light boxes to specialist paints. As an added bonus, many sensitive products are also ethically produced and environmentally friendly so you can feel proud as well as safe.

I was also pleasantly surprised by The Healthy House's prices - the cleaning products I've used and looked at all cost about the same as their big brand equivalents in the supermarket which has not been my experience in the past.

If, like me, you want to avoid the standard chemicals but don't have the inclination to mix up your own solutions, click through and take a look.

Do you have any recommendations for allergy-friendly cleaning?

The bathroom cleaner and laundry powder were gifted to me by The Healthy House (thanks folks!) but the views are entirely my own.


  1. Ooh good tip about the magic sponges, I'll need to look out for them! (I realise that wasn't the point of your post but dirty grouting bugs me so much and I never knew how to get rid of it effectively!)

  2. OOH! I am a new convert to Bio D products and I am hoping to use eco-balls in my washing from as soon as my current laundry detergent runs out.

  3. I get mine from pound stores. :-)

  4. Ooh, which have you tried? I'm gradually replacing our cleaning products as they run out.

  5. Have you tried making your own cleansers with vinegar? Granted, everything smells like vinegar right after you use it, but the smell evaporates fairly quickly. I've also see other natural cleansers that use lemon juice or baking soda.

    I believe Dr. Bronner's castille soap is also available in unscented formulas. They're a little pricey, but they can clean just about anything (or so I'm told). You usually only use a small amount and dilute it with water to clean.

  6. Yes, I make my own from time to time but storage and inclination are both an issue!

  7. I love e-cloths and I also make my own water/vinegar cleaners. Tried bio-D before and I was impressed with their cleaners. For me it's an Eco thing, not an allergy thing but I had a colleague once who would come out in hives or asthma with certain products and it was scary to see the effects they could cause.

  8. It really is. We assume everything's tested as safe for human use but cleaning products (and perfumes) don't have to be.

  9. These sound really good - I'm not scent averse but the chemical nasties are not ideal either. I have tried the vinegar baking soda thing too but like you would prefer something I don't ahve to whip up myself - thanks for the rec's! :-)

  10. Let me know if you try any of them. :)


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