When you choose natural cleaning products instead of potentially toxic ones, you keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 150 chemical cleaners found in the average home are linked to many health problems. A number of these products can trigger allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and more.
Some chemicals in cleaning products can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and can even poison you, warns the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The good news is that you can keep your home sparkling clean without using harsh chemicals.
Tried and True
Did you know that you can make nontoxic household cleaners from easy-to-find ingredients? Two of the most popular natural cleaning agents are baking soda and vinegar.
To unclog and freshen a drain, pour in 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup hot vinegar. Wait a few minutes, and then flush the drain with hot water. Even do-it-yourself formulas require some caution: For example, vinegar should not be combined with ammonia, any dish detergent that contains ammonia, or bleach.
By itself, vinegar cuts grease and dissolves calcium and lime deposits in coffee pots and on bathroom fixtures. It also cleans and sanitizes cutting boards, countertops, and other kitchen surfaces. Vinegar is useful in the laundry room, too, replacing stain removers and fabric softener. Distilled white vinegar is inexpensive, and its odor dissipates rapidly.
To complete your spring-cleaning shopping list, pick up some borax and lemon juice at your nearby Publix. These natural ingredients can be mixed into a paste to clean toilet bowls and to scour sinks.
Looks Clean, Smells Clean
Polishing furniture? Commercial furniture polishes may contain petroleum distillates, phenol, and other neurotoxins that can cause dizziness and respiratory problems. Why not make your own polish? Simply mix 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Apply the mixture to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe dry.
Need an effective yet inexpensive air freshener? Slice lemons into a saucepan and fill with water. Simmer on the stove to fill your home with a fresh-scrubbed scent. Cinnamon sticks, sliced ginger root, or even extracts including vanilla or almond also work well.
"Antibacterials and Disinfectants: Are They Necessary?" by S. Hartman, Children's Health Environmental Coalition, www.checnet.org
Arm & Hammer, www.armhammer.com
"Nontoxic Spring Cleaning," The Green Guide, www.thegreenguide.com
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov
The Vinegar Institute, www.versatilevinegar.org