Clean Sweep

A healthy house starts with cleaning tools that are multifunctional and reusable

December 8, 2010

A healthy house starts with cleaning tools that are multifunctional and reusable. Pair them with the hard-working, sweet-smelling cleaners and you'll have everything you need to turn your house into a spotless sanctuary.

1. Long-Life Bucket
This old-fashioned eight-quart galvanized bucket will stand up to years of use—and it's pretty enough to hold flowers from the garden when the cleaning is done. Caldrea


2. Sturdy Sponge
Natural vegetable cellulose sponges, made from plant pulp, pop up when wet and are extra absorbent and strong enough to toss into the microwave (for about a minute) for sanitizing. Trader Joe's for store info.

3. Versatile Cleaning Cloths
Used dry or dampened with just water, these synthetic microfiber cloths whisk away dust, dirt, and fingerprints from all smooth surfaces. Toss them in the wash when chores are done and they're ready for another go-round. Casabella's are available in varieties for glass (blue), all-purpose use (pink), and stainless steel (green). Casabella

4. Scratch-Free Scrub Brush
The plant-fiber bristles of Caldrea's superlight brush, which is specially sized for women's hands, tackle tough spills and stains—but won't leave a scratch. $15, Caldrea

5. Multipurpose Squeegee
No cleaning caddy should be without a squeegee. Use it to get a streak-free shine on windows and mirrors. After a shower, wipe down the tiles with it and you'll never battle mildew again. $7, Casabella

6. Super Spray Mop
You can fill the Pico mop with the nontoxic cleaner of your choice—just pour it into the barrel, attach a washable microfiber cloth to the head, pull the trigger to wet the floor, and start sprucing. $40, Leifheit Housewares

Click here for a wallet card listing toxic and nontoxic ingredients in cleaning products.

Better Cleaners
We put more than 50 nontoxic products to the test. Our favorites are supereffective, easy to use, and leave rooms smelling delicious.

We Like Restoration Hardware Surface Cleaner
Why This multitasking spray—it works on counters and glass—is so delectably scented and effective that our tester found herself looking for reasons to use it. Available in six fragrances, including lemongrass, Meyer lemon, and lavender rosemary.
Buying Info $12 for 32 ounces, Restoration Hardware

We Like Vermont Soapworks Liquid Sunshine
Why The name says it all: While the fresh citrus scent lifts your spirits, the organic oils make floors sparkle. You can also use it in the laundry and to wash dishes. "It's a nice change from the bleach smell I'm used to," said one tester.
Buying Info $12.50 for 32 ounces, Vermont Soap

Kitchen and Bath
We Like Ecover Natural Cream Scrub
Why This gentle cleanser degreases appliances and cleans grimy tubs and scummy tile with a minimum of elbow grease. You can even use it to polish stainless steel and chrome without worrying about scratches.
Buying Info $2.80 for 16 ounces, Ecover for stores

We Like Aubrey Organics Earth Aware All-Purpose Household Cleanser
Why Perfect for the minimalist (or someone short on storage space), this cleaner works on most surfaces, including floors and counters—and even on dishes. Subtly scented with organic essential oils, the herbal formula is gentle on skin but tough on grime.
Buying Info $6.15 for 32 ounces, Aubrey® Organics

Sinks and Tubs
We Like Natural Choices Oxy-Scrub Kitchen & Bathroom Cleanser
Why Oxygen bleach—a safer, better-smelling alternative to chlorine bleach—boosts the cleaning power of this cleanser. Great for tough stains and crusty pots and pans.
Buying Info $5.25 for one pound, Natural Choices

We Like Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Stainless Steel Spray
Why You can polish away fingerprints and streaks in a flash with this concentrated olive oil–based spray. "It made the tedious task of cleaning my stainless steel appliances a breeze," said our tester.
Buying Info $8 for 15.7 ounces, Mrs. Meyer's

We Like Seventh Generation Natural Citrus Carpet Cleaner
Why This lemon-scented spray holds its own against harsher ammonia-based products. It dissolves pet stains, oil-based stains, and dirt with an effective mixture of citrus and hydrogen peroxide.
Buying Info $4.80 for 32 ounces, Seventh Generation for stores