I’ve posted about safe housecleaning before, but I figure we can never have too many tips, right? Plus the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently put out some more ideas for those seeking to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals. Especially if you’re sensitive-toxins in household cleansers have been linked to asthma-you’ll want to do everything you can to breathe cleaner indoor air.
Try making your own oven cleaner. Oven cleaners are typically pretty heavy on the chemicals. You can make your own by combining baking soda, liquid dish soap, and white vinegar. See the recipe here.
Dilute. Most regular household cleaners come quite concentrated. Dilute according to the instructions, but even if the product is mean to be used straight from the bottle, you can most likely get away with dividing one bottle into two, and adding water. Using only what you need can cut back on the chemicals.
Scouring powder from scratch. If you have soap scum or other stains in the kitchen or bathroom, try borax, baking soda, or salt on a damp sponge. Or rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in borax. Borax is also great as a toilet bowl cleaner-pour ¼ cup in the bowl and let sit overnight, then scrub the next day.
Be cautious with pine and citrus oil cleaners. According to the EWG, on smoggy days, these cleaners can react with ozone to produce cancer-causing formaldehyde. Use only on clear days.
Read labels carefully. There are a lot of cleaners out there claiming to be natural or organic. Read the ingredient list carefully, and look for those that are certified by organizations like Green Seal or EcoLogo.
Pass by the antibacterial. The American Medical Association and the FDA say we don’t need it to cut back on germs. Regular soap and water do just as well, and don’t contaminate the environment like triclosan (the active ingredient in anti-bacterial products).
Stock up on vinegar. It’s good for so many things. You can rub it full-strength on clothing stains, mix it with water to clean up carpet stains and vinyl and tile floors, or mix just a little with water to clean windows and glass. It’s also perfect for getting rid of odors on cutting boards and for discouraging ants from entering around baseboards and doorways.
Stock up on baking soda, too. This is another great housecleaning product. Sprinkle it in the tub or shower to get rid of soap scum. Mix with water to clean and deodorize shower curtains, sprinkle it on microwave spills, and mix it with powdered sugar to serve as a deterrent for cockroaches. It’s also great for general surface cleaning.
Warning: don’t mix bleach with other cleaners. Bleach and ammonia, vinegar, or other acids creates deadly gases. If you use bleach, mix it only with water, and always use gloves.
Use more lemons. They not only cut through dirt, they make a great furniture polish (when mixed with olive oil), freshen up the garbage disposal, and you can use the peels to keep cats out of your potted plants.
Do you have other safe cleaning tips? Please share.
Photo courtesy mconners via morguefile.com.