Healthy Home: How to Practice Mindful Cleaning

Healthy Home: How to Practice Mindful Cleaning

Practice mindful cleaning with eco-friendly products to help maintain a healthy environment—in nature and in your home.

“One day, while washing a bowl, I felt that my movements were as sacred and respectful as bathing a newborn Buddha,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh. Doing the dishes is an opportunity to be present and notice the movement of your hands and the feel of warm water. “Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness, becomes sacred,” he says.

For many of us, the smell of a clean house is linked to industrial cleaning agents and watering eyes. Yet it doesn’t have to be so. Many eco-conscious companies see the benefits of using natural ingredients, both for their bacteria-fighting powers and as aromatherapy. Boutique maker Caldrea offers cleaning products with scents that include “palmarosa wild mint” and “lavender pine.” Begley’s Earth Responsible Products include “fresh grapefruit” and “herb garden” dish soaps.

Before you cook or clean, light a candle to burn off any negative energy and illuminate the good of the day. The act signifies that your time and space are focused on lovingly preparing food and honoring the place that shelters you and your loved ones.

What we spray in our home matters. “With the increased rates of asthma among children, we’re concerned that cleaning products may be one of the exposures leading to this increase,” says Rebecca Sutton, senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “Spray cleaners make fine droplets that can expose your lungs to harmful chemicals.” Search EWG’s database of more than 2,000 cleaning products to decode labels and make sure you are using products that are healthy for your children, pets, and the environment—so you can breathe deeply.

Did you know?
There are no studies that prove any health benefits for antibacterial cleaners, says EWG researcher Rebecca Sutton. On the contrary, many of those products contain chemicals that have been linked to asthma and other conditions.

Vinegar, lemon, and soap and water are still some of the most effective (and cheapest) cleaning agents.

You can find the worst offenders in the household cleaning category in EWG’s Hall of Shame, at

Our Picks
Try our favorite eco-friendly cleaning products:

  • Caldrea
  • Ecover
  • Seventh Generation
  • Method
  • Mrs. Meyer’s
  • Begley’s

Decoding Detergents

Creating a database of cleaning products posed a challenge for Environmental Working Group.

“We definitely had a problem with companies disclosing ingredients,” says researcher Rebecca Sutton. “To cobble the information together, we went to company websites, looked at labels and worker safety documents. This really illustrated for us how difficult it is for the consumer.”

The database, available online at, lists more than 2,000 household products, from all-purpose cleaners to dishwashing soaps and laundry detergents, and rates them on their toxicity. The database may have already had an impact.

“Since our launch this past September, many companies are now working with us and disclosing more and more,” Sutton says.

EWG plans to add more products and information early this year.

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