Organic Housekeeping, by Ellen Sandbeck


Reviewed by Marcia Wallace This is the book that got me to throw out all the household toxins in my home. For years I was getting increasingly concerned about the environmental causes of health problems, but felt paralyzed to act. I decided to do something within my own home - surely I could make a few modest changes that would make a difference? And it started by changing the definition of clean I had grown up with. As Ellen writes: “There is no such thing as cleaner than clean. A clean surface is just the surface, with nothing else on it; a lingering fragrance, no matter how sweet and pleasant, signals that a chemical has been left behind.”

The main structure of the book is based on different rooms of the house - the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen - with tips and advice on what works best for the types of housekeeping you'll need in each area of the house. And her advice goes way beyond cleaners. She writes about everything from avoiding toxic materials in the products we buy, to how to prevent stains and address odours, to fire prevention and much more.

Ellen calls herself the “nontoxic avenger” and her message is simple. Change starts at home, and you can learn to live in a cleaner, healthier, economical way. Her book isn’t what I expected. Although she’s motivated by removing the toxins around us, she starts the book with advice on how to de-clutter your life and be more organized. It’s an accessible start to the kind of book best suited for that person that has been moved by the issues, but can’t respond to being told that everything they do wrong, everything they use is toxic. Reading Organic Housekeeping is like be held by the hand by a big sister - “see, its not that hard!”