Suppliers are increasingly providing cleaning products that contain natural or naturally-derived ingredients, while avoiding the use of environmentally-harmful chemicals. Clorox is the latest to offer a line of these products, which will be marketed under the name Green Works.
Chemical manufacturers are working to come up with new ingredients that are both environmentally-friendly and high-performance.
Many of your most common household products contain potentially toxic chemicals. Although you may not have reflected on this; you can easily absorb most of these chemicals through your skin, and you can also breathe them into your lungs.
Over time, these toxins can build up in your system (and in the environment) and cause any number of unpredictable effects. For example:
Persistent wheezing in young children can be linked to cleaning products they were exposed to while in the womb
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) -- chemical additives found in some household detergents and other cleaning products -- are known to be potent endocrine disrupters, and are already thought to be the cause of male fish transforming into females in waterways around the world
It's always best to avoid using chemicals to clean, sanitize or deodorize your home. But until the self-cleaning kitchen becomes a reality, you are left with the practical challenge of selecting effective yet safe cleaning agents that won't poison you or your family.
As this article points out, it’s becoming easier to seek out more natural laundry detergents and cleaning products as more companies are following public demand. Your local health food store is a good place to start.
But there’s an even easier way to keep your household sparkling clean, without cleaning out your wallet; make them from scratch! Because you don’t need a chemical degree to make many, if not all, of your cleaners from common household items.
How to Clean and Sanitize Without Harmful Chemicals
Items, such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice can get the job done just as well -- sometimes even better -- than their toxic counterparts.
For example, vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.
Cleaning mirrors and windows is as easy as adding a quarter-cup of white vinegar per quart of water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture if windows or mirrors are really dirty, but be very careful not to use any that contain harmful antibacterial substances.
If you're still using air fresheners because you like a scented environment, consider safer alternatives like therapeutic essential oils. Many of them also have the added bonus of being antibacterial agents. Just bear in mind that essential oils are NOT the same thing as fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are artificially created and often contain synthetic chemicals -- so make sure the essential oil you use is of the highest quality and 100 percent pure.
Most people know that baking soda is an ideal means to absorb odors in your refrigerator, but did you know it’s also a real powerhouse when it comes to cleaning?
Here’s half a dozen examples of how plain and simple baking soda can replace dangerous commercial cleaning products in your home:
- Use as a safe non-scratch scrub for metals and porcelain.
- To clean your oven, simply sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.
- To unclog a drain, pour 1/2 - 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 - 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it's working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.
- Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.
- To rid your garbage disposal of foul smells, add vinegar to water for ice cubes, then let a few of them get chopped by your disposal.
- To clean your silver, boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.
I also recommend you modify the way you use your existing towels, sponges, rags and other conventional tools you use to clean your home with, as
1) they are some of the top sources for illness-causing germs in your home; and
2) they do a very poor job of cleaning the biological and toxic aspects of dirt in your home
Last year I posted an interesting study that documented the only real value of a microwave, and that is to use it to sterilize these items.
A University of Florida team found that putting your wet sponge in the microwave for two minutes at full power could kill 99 percent of a wide range of bacteria, viruses and parasites (including B. cereus spores after four minutes, which are normally able to survive extreme heat and radiation).
Keep in mind, however, that you MUST SOAK THE SPONGE BEFORE MICROWAVING IT, or else it will likely catch fire and possibly ruin the microwave, if not your house. Additionally, the way this works is by causing the water in the sponge to turn to hot steam, which is what kills the bacteria. Also make sure the sponges do not contain any metallic components.
Zapping your sponges in the microwave every other day will decontaminate them better than simply putting them in the dishwasher, which is the strategy I had been using previously.