September 16, 2021
Chemical-Free Cleaning for a Healthy Home
We would all like our homes to be clean and free of germs so that our families can live in a safe and healthy environment. The problem is, many of the products we use in an attempt to create a healthy environment for our loved ones are actually very unhealthy, if not toxic.
Keep reading to learn how you can make your own living spaces cleaner and healthier for you and your family.
Synthetic Products Have a Long History
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the highest environmental dangers and, unfortunately, common cleaning products are often the culprits responsible for polluting the air in our homes. A large number of synthetic chemicals have been produced since World War II, most of which are derived from petroleum and coal tar. Some of these products can cause immediate physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long-term effects after extensive or repeated exposure can be even more serious, including heart disease, respiratory diseases, and even cancer.
Labels often hint at the dangerous nature of the contents, warning us to wear gloves, not breathe in fumes, and avoid contact with the skin and eyes, but many times they fail to mention the side effects that the product can cause. Fortunately there are alternative cleaning products and solutions that are just as effective and will avoid introducing a host of unfriendly synthetic chemicals into our home. These natural products have the added benefit of being eco-friendly in addition to being better for your health!
Read Labels Before Purchasing
Now, more than ever, companies are introducing natural cleaning products; however, you do have to use caution when selecting such products. Make sure you do your research on the brand you are buying to determine if it is actually a natural product and not just a marketing technique. Health food stores are often a good place to find such products, although they are becoming more readily available at other major retailers. Look for products that contain plant-based ingredients. Many times the packaging will indicate what percentage of the product is naturally derived.
While buying natural products is certainly a great alternative to those filled with synthetic chemicals, you may notice that they are a little more expensive than traditional products and you won’t always know exactly what’s in them. If that’s the case, consider making your own cleaning products. You’d be surprised how simple they are to make and how effectively they clean. Many of the ingredients may already be laying around your house.
Common Household Products Work Great
Baking soda is something that many of us typically have on hand. Because of its abrasiveness, it serves well as a scouring powder that won’t scratch kitchen or bathroom surfaces. It can also be used to remove stains and cut through grease—or even for really tough jobs like cleaning ovens. Baking soda is a naturally occurring mineral (sodium bicarbonate).
White vinegar is another common household staple with serious cleaning potential. It can be used to clear build-up in coffee pots, sinks, dishwashers, and windows. It is also an excellent bathroom cleaner and disinfectant and can help to remove foul odors. If you don’t like the smell of the vinegar itself, try filling a jar with citrus peels and pouring undiluted vinegar over them. In a few days, strain out the vinegar to use as an all-purpose natural cleaner. Pro Tip: Don’t use vinegar on marble, granite, or stone surfaces.
Castile soap is made entirely from plant oils. It is available in both bar and liquid form and can be used to cut through grease and clean a variety of surfaces, including floors, tubs, and even carpets. It can be used to make laundry detergent or dish soap. A truly versatile cleanser, castile soap can even be used for making personal hygiene products, such as shampoo or body wash.
Essential oils are not typically thought to be a cleaning product, but adding a few drops to some of your homemade cleaners can be a great way to naturally add a wonderful scent. Many times, the scents added to commercial cleaning products are among the most harmful synthetic ingredients.
Lemon can be a wonderful sanitizer and has the added bonus of smelling wonderful all on its own. Lemons can be used to sanitize cutting boards, get rid of mildew and mold, cut through grease, and make hard surfaces shiny.
Products to Avoid
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some household products are particularly harmful and are best avoided altogether. Air fresheners have been known to contain ingredients that trigger allergies and asthma. The EWG suggests setting out a bowl of white vinegar or baking soda or opening windows to eliminate odors in the home. Another way to freshen the air is to simmer citrus combined with herbs and spices like rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, or thyme. Antibacterial products are problematic because of their ability to aid in the development of drug-resistant superbugs. Fabric softener and dryer sheets also contain irritants that can cause asthma and allergy problems—instead, try adding a quarter cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle to reduce wrinkles and static cling. Drain and oven cleaners contain harsh ingredients that can burn the eyes and skin. A drain snake or plunger should be used to remove clogs, and baking soda and water can be used to scrub down ovens.
Easy Natural Solutions for Cleaning Your Home
Cleaning the Dishwasher | Place a dishwasher-safe bowl with 2 cups of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a full hot cycle with no other dishes to remove any musty odors.
Dishwasher Detergent | Mix 1 cup of liquid castile soap and 1 cup of water (add a little lemon juice if you want). Add the mixture to the detergent compartment and fill the other compartment with white vinegar.
Washing Windows | Use a microfiber cloth to clean windows. It leaves no streaks or lint and no chemicals are necessary.
Cleaning the Microwave | Mix vinegar and lemon juice in a small cup. Place the cup in the microwave and let it run for a couple of minutes, leaving the door closed for several more minutes. Then, open the door and wipe down with a warm cloth or sponge.
Removing Rust | Sprinkle salt on the rust and add lime juice until it is well soaked. Let sit for 2-3 hours and scrub remaining residue.
Scrubbing Toilets | Add 1/2 cup of baking soda and let sit for a while. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar and scrub. Try adding an essential oil such as tea tree oil for natural fragrance.
Hand Soap | Fill 1/5 of a foaming soap dispenser with liquid castile soap, adding essential oil if desired. Fill to the top with water.
Polishing Furniture | Combine 1/4 cup of vinegar with 3/4 cup olive oil and use a soft cloth to apply to furniture. Alternatively, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/2 cup olive oil.