How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners

This is a blog post I should have written long ago, but like many, we feel like maybe someone else is doing it better. However, as someone with an autoimmune disease and that has deeply struggled with infertility for almost ten years of my life and marriage, I’ve been through the ringer learning about and identifying ways to reduce toxins in my life to help reduce inflammation in my body. As a beauty blogger, you may think my changes started with personal care. But that was actually the last place I made adjustments. If you’d like to learn how to start living a cleaner lifestyle for beginners, I’ll take you on my journey with easy, practical swaps that shouldn’t cost and arm and a leg.

How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners | 3 steps to living a cleaner lifestyle for beginners hero image | Brighter Darling Clean Beauty Blog

To be clear, I don’t think anyone who knows me (or meets me) thinks I’m some holier-than-thou, hippie dippy crunchy mom. Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with that lifestyle, but it’s just not me.

I firmly believe in living an 80/20 lifestyle. 80% of my life I try to live low tox/no tox or cleaner, and 20% is not. The stress some people put on themselves to achieve perfection is not helpful to my cortisol and stress levels, so that’s how I prefer to do things. If that sounds like you, then let’s keep going…

How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners

My cleaner lifestyle began with my infertility journey back in 2015/2016. Back then, doctors and my health providers who were helping me try to get pregnant advised me to choose organic meats and produce, when possible. Additionally, if I was using plastic tupperware/food storage, swap out to glass containers.

The reason this is recommended is because of the extra chemicals that are used on produce and in what the animals are fed if not organic. This can affect our hormones and expose us to carcinogens we certainly do not need. As for the plastic vs glass, plastics contain BPA (even if it says BPA free, there are other BPA alternatives they DO contain that are just as toxic as BPA, just not officially published yet…. so try to avoid plastic when possible and stick with stainless steel, food grade silicone or glass). BPA is an estrogen mimicker and thus, can throw off hormones, as well as, has been connected to diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

Food and food storage were my first swaps… choosing to focus on organic meats and produce first (not EVERYTHING). 

As an extra tip with food, not ALL produce needs to be organic. If you bookmark the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen they publish annually, you’ll know what produce to splurge on organic, and where you can save. I follow this to this day.

Organic meats can be daunting in the grocery store lately… the prices are INSANE. Since the beginning of the pandemonium in 2020, we got sick of the shortages in the local grocery stores and decided to use Butcher Box for our meats. This is a meat delivery service and we get it delivered monthly. I get the custom box, so I can change out the meats I get each month, but you can select different options, too. The cost savings is significant. I did a comparison shopping in store vs with Butcher Box and the ONLY comparable retailer to get the quantity of organic/grass fed meats I was getting was COSTCO. But if you don’t live close to a COSTCO that stocks a lot of organic/grass fed meats, then you’ll love Butcher Box. They’re also a B Corporation :).

Food storage was also one we did slowly. Glass containers aren’t cheap so I remember buying a set every month or two until we had enough for our family’s needs. We like these, these, and these from Amazon. I also use the big wide mouth mason jars from Walmart to store any fruits or leftovers (broth, soups, sauces) that need to go in the fridge (like berries… game changer for freshness).

How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners | favorite glass food storage containers on Amazon

This clean living journey is a work in progress and even in 2023 at the time of this blog post, I still am making changes in my family’s life as I learn. So, pace yourself and know that every safer swap matters and is reducing your exposure to yucky stuff… thus, helping your body function its best.

The next area I swapped was home cleaning products… and this is where I learned about how harmful artificial fragrance/parfums can be. Synthetic/artificial fragrance can literally be an ENTIRE blog post in itself as it’s in so many things and is not just irritating to sensitive skin, but irritating to our internal body, too. We also have pets and I am a mom, so making sure that my pets and children aren’t inhaling or touching toxic fumes/chemicals is important.

But in terms of home cleaning chemicals and fumes… my main goal was to reduce or eliminate cleaners that didn’t actually clean and just left SMELL (think: Fabuloso, Pine Sol… things like that). My favorite nontoxic yet EPA approved disinfectant cleaner used in our home is from Force of Nature. It can be used legitimately on EVERYTHING and will still leave that ‘chlorine’/bleachy smell you may be used to… but by way of salt/vinegar osmosis 🙂 You can re-make fresh bottles as needed, so it’s one of those items that is an ‘investment’ initially, but truly breaks down to be cheaper over time.

I also got familiar with utilizing baking soda and plain white vinegar for a lot of things… as well as, Barkeepers friend in place of Comet.

How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners | best nontoxic EPA all purpose disinfectant Force of Nature Cleaner

Caveat: you will still find me using Clorox toilet cleaner and some bleach-based ingredients in my bathroom because… well… sometimes you just need the big guns when you’re dealing with bathrooms and kids and sickness 😉 but every day, and throughout the rest of the home…

*Laundry – I’ve tried SO MANY brands. As a mom of a toddler, some of the cleaner brands like Molly’s Suds just don’t work as well on stains for us. So this is my happy medium right now. It changes occasionally, but I know using this formula is still better than your traditional orange bottle of Tide.



Home cleaning products was my second swap, and one that is a work in progress and ever-evolving as we try new things. Mostly, I’m looking for artificial fragrance free products that may contain proven disinfectant properties where necessary.

The next area I began to take a look at was personal care… think: body wash, deodorant, skincare, makeup… really, the stuff we use every single day that is in direct contact with our skin – the largest organ of the body and the one that absorbs over 60% of what we put on it.

Some would argue starting here would be the MOST important after food, but I think this is a place many people avoid because they think it’s too hard.

When I discovered how many of my favorite, top recommended personal care products were highly toxic to human health with NO regulation to market in the United States, I was absolutely pissed.

In short, the last time a major federal regulation was passed giving the FDA any sort of ability to manage what is put into our personal care products was 1938. There have been SOME smaller laws passed in the last ten years, but nothing major.

So consumers are left to decipher ingredient labels themselves and even when a brand says it’s ‘clean,’ it is just a marketing term. You need to educate yourself on what ingredients specifically are harmful and why… and make your own decisions.

There are actually PLENTY of brands who may not call themselves ‘clean,’ yet their products are cleaner. So, it’s frustrating for sure.

Personal care was my third category where I made changes. Some of the apps I toggle between to help me make educated decisions on what personal care I purchase include EWG’s Healthy Living App, Think Dirty, and ClearYa. If it’s more food focused, I recently paid for the Yuka app and really like that one, too. 

These apps are not perfect. You still need to use some common sense and research some ingredients yourself. You also may not find everything on these apps, so that’s why you have to be an informed consumer. But they are a helpful guide for newbies!

How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners | Best High Performing Clean Beauty Brands | Brighter Darling Blog | Clean Beauty Blog

What to avoid:

  • fragrance (and if I do use fragrance, I want it disclosed. What ingredients are making the fragrance… what essential oils or essences)
  • parabens
  • PEGs (this one can be hard)
  • phthalates
  • formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasers
  • some chemical SPFs (I stick to mineral SPF, especially on my face… this is also because I’m acne prone and sensitive)
  • coal tar or coal tar derivatives
  • PFAS
  • EDTA

Using the apps I mentioned above helps weed out purchasing products with these ingredients, but the easiest tip I can leave you with is avoid products that use synthetic or artificial fragrance. Doing that alone helps SO much.

Start with the products you’re about to finish up first, OR the ones you use daily (body wash, deo, face cleanser, moisturizer, SPF, tinted moisturizer/foundation, lip product). If you need specific recommendations for your skin type, please comment below or shoot me a DM on IG @brighterdarling.

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That’s your ‘How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners‘ and my first three areas that I started with! Since then, we’ve swapped out cookware and some other home-related products, but I think these are attainable swaps you can make over time that can help you with inflammation in the body and overall be better for our planet, too.

I made these swaps over time and as we ran out of things in our home. A couple items every month makes a difference.

If this was helpful, let me know and I can work on a Part II.

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-Steffanie

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