Yes, it is almost that time of the year again. Time to bust out the cleaning supplies, open up the windows and freshen up your home! How about if this year we make an effort to do this the environmentally friendly way? Many of the common household cleaners that we use are not only extremely toxic and carcinogenic to us, but they are taking a toll on the environment as well. Where do you think all of the chemicals end up?
First off, let’s look at some of the chemicals that you should avoid during your spring cleaning, and well, whenever possible. Here are the top eleven conventional cleaning supplies that you should avoid:
1. WINDOW OR GLASS CLEANER– These products typically contain ammonia. Ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system. It will react with chlorinated products to produce a fatal chloramine gas.
2. CONVENTIONAL AIR FRESHENERS - Air fresheners coat your nasal passages with an oil film called methoxychlor, which will kill the nerves in your nose over time, and interfere with your ability to smell.
3. CONVENTIONAL ANTI-BACTERIAL CLEANERS - Along with the production of new antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs,” the Center for Disease Control says that anti-bacterial cleaners can also interfere with immune system development in children and they also contain triclosan which can be absorbed by the skin and cause liver damage.
4. BLEACH - Bleach is an extremely strong corrosive that can burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. NEVER mix bleach with ammonia products, as fatal fumes will be produced.
5. CONVENTIONAL LAUNDRY DETERGENT - Laundry detergents contain phosphorus, enzymes, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, sodium nitilotriacetate, to name a few. These can cause rashes, itchiness, dryness and sinus problems. These chemicals are easily absorbed through your skin from your clothes and bed sheets.
6. CONVENTIONAL DRAIN CLEANER - Drain cleaner typically contains sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid, which can cause blindness if splashed in the eyes.
7. CONVENTIONAL OVEN CLEANER - Most oven cleaners contain extremely corrosive bases of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.
8. BLEACH BASED CLEANING POWDERS - Many of these cleaning powders such as ‘Comet’ or ‘Ajax’ contain formaldehyde (a known human carcinogenic recognized by the World Health Organization) benzene, chloroform among many others. Side effects can include: cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders.
9. FURNITURE POLISH - Furniture Polish such as ‘Pledge’ contains nitrobenzene, which is extremely toxic and easily absorbed through the skin.
10. TOILET BOWL CLEANERS - Contains hydrochloric acid, which is corrosive to the skin and eyes.
11. DISHWASHER DETERGENT - Contain a highly concentrated form of dried chlorine, every time you wash your dishes there is some residue left, and when you use these dishes to eat with you actually consume these chemicals.
How to avoid the amount of chemicals we use
There are a few things that we can do to minimize the amount of chemicals that we use, and they are all very simple. If you spill something, clean it up right away. If you get a stain on your shirt, rinse it with water right away. If you make a mess of the toilet, you got it, take a brush and clean it up right away. By cleaning things as they get dirty, rather than waiting to clean and doing it all at once, spills won’t have as much time to stain and you can use very minimal, or often no chemicals to get things clean. Another excellent thing we can do to reduce the amount of chemicals and cleaners that we use; is to just use a little bit of elbow grease. Sometimes you really have to scrub out a pot, pan or stain from the carpet. It seems as though in this day and age we have become so lazy to the point where everything is about convenience rather than what we are doing to ourselves and the environment by using such toxic products and not even thinking twice about it. Also, I think that a lot of us have a skewed idea about what it means to be clean, all of these cleaners that are advertised to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria, but do we need to be killing all of those germs and bacteria? Not all bacteria is harmful to us, and in fact, we are weakening our immune system by not giving it anything to fight off, so when we come into contact with bacteria we become ‘sick’ much easier.
Okay, so now we know what we shouldn’t be using, but what does that leave us with to get our cleaning done? Luckily, as more and more people in the world are growing more conscious about themselves, the environment and the globe as a whole, there are more eco-friendly cleaning products that are made available to us today. More and more brands are emerging and even old companies known for using harsh chemicals are starting to change their ways.
There are also many natural common household items that can work wonders for cleaning products. Top 3 All- Natural Cleaning Supplies: Baking Soda, Lemon and Vinegar.
Baking soda is a great way to freshen up fabrics and remove odors. You can place a box in your fridge and freezer to keep it smelling neutral. It is also great to sprinkle on fabrics like carpets, couches and mattresses and then vacuum up to keep these things smelling fresh! Put some in your laundry for an extra whitening boost. I always sprinkle it in the cat litter after I scoop out the clumps.
Lemon juice and lemon peel not only are great smelling natural cleaning products, but they actually get the job done and cut through grease with ease.
White Vinegar mixed with water is an excellent disinfectant cleaner, and also works great for cleaning windows.
Below I have included a basic recipe for an all-natural, all-purpose cleaner. Hope you enjoy!
NATURAL ORANGE ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER
STEP 1: Save enough orange peels to fill up a 1-liter mason jar. (If this is going to take you more than a day or 2 I would suggest storing them in either the fridge or freezer)
STEP 2: After you have done that, pour in 500 ml (2 Cups) white vinegar.
STEP 3: Seal the jar, and let it sit on your countertop or in a cupboard for 2 weeks.
STEP 4: After 2 weeks strain out the orange peels and keep the liquid in the jar.
STEP 5: Mix Water with orange vinegar solution (4 parts water 1 part orange vinegar solution in a spray bottle)
Voila! All-natural, homemade all-purpose cleaner!
Happy Spring Cleaning!