In addition to the nuisance of eye and skin irritations, chemicals found in store-bought cleaners are also linked to cancer, birth defects and respiratory complications including asthma. Since most households have these cleaners, there is an ever-present risk of inadvertent ingestion by children and pets.
The EPA has disclosed that hazardous chemicals are in fact present within household cleaners. This includes “carcinogens, persistent bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals, endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may pose risks to human health and the environment.”
Furthermore, the distribution of these toxic substances are unlikely to be confined to a single household. Nitrogen found in glass cleaner, for example, will pollute the groundwater after being rinsed down the drain.
Another point to consider is the production of the plastic containers in which these cleaners are stored. Once disposed and thrown into a landfill, the oil used to create these plastic containers results in a slow degrading process, taking up to 1,000 years. During this time, more toxic chemicals are released into the air.
The best approach to cleaning our homes is truly the use of natural ingredients, most of which can already be found in your kitchen. Use any of the following alternatives to store-bought cleaners or other cleaning services to ensure minimal exposure to toxic chemicals. Your health and environment surrounding you will greatly benefit from these changes!
One hundred percent non-toxic, lemon is also a natural bleaching agent and deodorizer. It will leave a fresh, citrus scent as it cuts through grease and removes stains. While citrus is harsh enough to eliminate mold, it is gentle enough to give surfaces a natural shine. To clean stains or eliminate germs on a cutting board, mix lemon juice with water. If your tiles look dingy, use a toothbrush dipped in lemon juice to scrub the grout. By adding salt, lemon can be used to clean metal or to polish chrome. Soak used tupperware overnight to eliminate odors. If you simply like the smell of citrus, mix lemon juice and water in a spray bottle to keep in the kitchen; you can gradually clean stains as needed, resulting in a perpetually fresh-smelling kitchen. Instead of using bleach, simply add a cup of lemon juice to your laundry; your clothes will have a fresh, citrus scent instead of the lingering artificial fragrance of laundry detergent.
2. Olive Oil
Use olive oil as a cleaner and polisher by adding some salt. You can clean pots, pans and stove tops. Get scuffs out of leather by rubbing in some olive oil. Lemon juice or vinegar with olive oil makes an excellent polisher for wooden surfaces. To prevent streaks, use a cotton cloth with stainless steel and brass. If you have blenders, food processors or grinders with movable pieces, olive oil is an excellent solution if you have issues with squeakiness; Coronation House Cleaning even uses it for squeaky door hinges! Be sure to use olive oil on your garden tools to reduce dirt buildup.
3. White Vinegar
Due to its natural acidity, white vinegar is an effective anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. White vinegar can also eliminate grease, soap scum and other types of residue. By dipping your gloved fingers in white vinegar and hot water, you can clean window blinds and piano keys with ease. A solution of half white vinegar and half olive oil can remove water rings from wooden surfaces. For rugs or carpets, mix one cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water and use a push broom to evenly distribute the solution. The same solution can also be used on brickwork. Instead of purchasing air fresheners, leave a bowl of vinegar out overnight to eliminate odors.
4. Baking Soda
If you vacuum your carpet with baking soda or if you leave an open box in your refrigerator, you are already aware of its superpower as a deodorizer. As an antiviral agent, it also breaks through grease and grime, making it useful for the kitchen, bathroom, floors and even barbeque grills. Unclog drains by pouring down baking soda followed by some white vinegar. When the solution foams, you know it’s served its purpose. Rinse down with hot water. You can also clean combs and hairbrushes if you soak them with water and a teaspoon of baking soda.
5. Club Soda
Aside from cleaning shirt stains, club soda is also a cheaper approach to cleaning glass. Fill a spray bottle with club soda and use the solution on your windows or glass doors. Be sure to wipe away with a soft cloth; a clean t-shirt tends to work best. You can cut through grease as well by adding a little lemon juice. Remove stains and polish any surface with club soda. There are also minerals in club soda that your plants will thank you for. Watch them grow by watering them with club soda once a week. You can also use club soda as a substitute for jewelry cleaner by soaking them overnight. Since carbonation eliminates rust, club soda can also clean your cast-iron cookware. To ensure that food particles don’t stick, be sure to pour the club soda on your pans while they are still warm.
For a deodorising effect, salt can be mixed with vinegar as a powerful cleaner. Salt mixed with club soda can completely deodorise your refrigerator. If you spilt wine on cotton or linen, do your best to blot out as much as possible and pour salt on the stain to eliminate what remains. Soak the fabric in cold water and throw it in the washer. To remove mildew and rust, mix salt with lemon juice. Brighten coloured curtains or rugs by washing them in saltwater. You can also dip a cloth in this solution to brighten rugs and carpets.
Of course, there are many natural cleaners available for purchase, but chances are they are far more expensive than working with these essential ingredients that you have at home. Using these six ingredients, you can rest assured that you are taking a non-toxic, environmentally friendly approach to your regular household chores. If the solutions that you create with these ingredients smell too basic or bland for your taste, you can always incorporate some essential oils like lavender or tea tree oil.
If you have any additional tips for natural and healthy cleaning, be sure to leave them in the comments!