How To Clean Your Home The Non-Toxic Way
Cleaning your home and keeping it that way does not require mega doses of disinfectants or gallons upon gallons of alcohol-based cleaners. As a matter of fact, the higher the requirement for disinfectants the higher the concern for its harmful effects to your health and environment become.
Experts even say, that these cleaning products do not offer more in terms of benefits nor do they work any better than the natural or non-toxic cleaners. Take the antibacterial soap for example. Epidemiologists opine that they do not clean hands better than regular soap does.
Moreover, you can keep your home just as clean for a lot less money. Aside from this, you can actually safeguard your health better and do more for the environment if you go back to the basics. Here’s how.
Chlorine bleach is considered to be one of the most potent (read: harshest) cleaners. It is incorporated in a wide variety of cleaning products as well as some laundry powders and dishwasher detergents.
Like what the advertisement say, it kills germs on contact BUT it also is not much friendlier to your skin either, if you accidentally get splashed with it. Bleach is also well-known for its mold-killing ability, but it is not the only way you can rid your bathroom or countertops of mold and mildew. Hydrogen peroxide or vinegar also works just as well.
Because it is used in so many households, chlorine bleach is also the most common chemical cleaner that children accidentally swallow.
Another problem with chlorine bleach is that it emits poisonous gases when mixed with ammonia or acidic cleaners, such as toilet bowl cleaners. Since it is hard to tell what is in every cleaning product, it would be wiser not to mix them at all. Also, exercise caution when throwing old cleaners down the drain. Do not pour more than one cleaner at a time to reduce the risk of getting them mixed inside the pipes.
Non-toxic Solutions to Chlorine Bleach
- Use hydrogen-peroxide-based bleach instead of chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide kills mold and mildew and sanitizes just as well as chlorine-based bleach would
- Choose chlorine-free cleaning products. Look for “chlorine-free” on the label before buying a cleanser or a detergent.
- Use an old toothbrush to scrub the kitchen counter and those hard-to-clean bathroom tile corners.
Avoid Ammonia = Avoid Hazardous Fumes
Consider the harsh smell of ammonia as a warning to its hazardous properties. Undiluted, it is highly irritating to the eyes and the respiratory system. But because it cleans through everything from grease to window gunk ammonia is often found in a wide range of household cleaning products.
Non-toxic Alternatives to Ammonia
- Buy only cleaners that are “green” and labeled non-toxic. Cleaning products should not contain chlorine, triclosan, alcohol, triclocarbon, lye, glycol ethers, or ammonia.
- Choose cleaning products that say “petroleum-free,” “90% biodegradable in 3 days,” “VOC-free”, “solvent-free” or “phosphate-free.”
Off the Shelf or Do-It-Yourself
Times have indeed changed. The growing awareness and concern for the environment has led consumers, especially parents who want their children to live and enjoy a healthier life, to demand and patronize only environmentally-friendlier and non-toxic products. From laundry bars and fabric softeners to window and floor cleaners, consumers nowadays are clamoring for safer alternatives to conventional chemical-based cleaners.
Although some products are indeed safer, others are simply “green-washed,” or are being marketed as “natural” while still containing unsafe chemicals. So get into the habit of reading product labels to see if all the ingredients are clearly disclosed. If it is not, check the manufacturer’s web site, because it could only mean that the manufacturer is trying to hide a particular suspect ingredient.
Another way to distinguish environment-friendly products is through “ecologos”. Just make sure that the ecologo is from a reputable source and that it was not put on the product to confuse or mislead you into believing that the product is eco-friendly.
Use Consumer Report’s greenerchoices.org for reference to these ecologos to find out what each means and if these ecologos are true to their claims of being earth-friendly. There is also the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Household Products Database wherein you can look up specific products and find out their ingredients. Or you can always try getting in touch with the manufacturer to ask them pointblank about the ingredients in their products. Many manufacturers are much more transparent these days than they were before for fear of reprisals.
If you choose to make your cleaning products and you have the skill or the aptitude to mix natural ingredients, by all means do so! It is surprisingly easy and cheap, and works just as well for most ordinary household cleaning. Do-it-yourself cleaning products can be just as effective as anything you could buy at the store.
General Non-toxic Solutions:
- Choose a reusable micro-fiber cloth to pick up dust particles without needing any chemical solution.
- Clean windows with white distilled vinegar.
- Kill mold and mildew, get rid of soap scum; and sanitize kitchen counters and cutting boards… again with white distilled vinegar.
- Use ordinary baking soda to scour kitchen counters and bathtubs. For tougher stains, use borax.
- To absorb odor in the refrigerator, use baking soda or for fresh scents, use lemon rinds, orange peel or essential oils like lavender.
Recipes for homemade cleaners
All Purpose Disinfecting Cleaner
- 2 cups water distilled water
- 1½ to 3 tsp liquid castille soap
- 1 tsp tea tree oil
Mix all the ingredients listed above. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to give it a pleasing scent.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl before you go to bed. The next morning just scrub and flush.
Sprinkle a little salt on the rusted part. Squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked. Leave the mixture to set for two to three hours. Use the leftover lime rind to scrub the residue.
- ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 quart warm water