I can't believe that I haven't done a post on using natural products to clean the home, yet. This is a topic that I feel very strongly about. I started using Vinegar on pretty much everything when my first son was born.
I watched the movie 'Chemerical' (another of Andrew Niskar's, Take Action Films) a few years ago and my eyes were opened to all that was in our chemical cleaning products. I guess I never considered all that my family was breathing in. It's a great film about a family who has to toss out (properly, btw) all of their chemical cleaning product and use all-natural products for cleaning, deodorizing, laundry, etc...
It really is a witty, funny, interesting film and I highly recommend it.
What is so bad about using the chemical cleaners that are on the shelf at the grocery store? Well, here are SOME answers:
*Some cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, which not only kill aquatic life but also harm humans. Ammonia and sodium hypochlorite can irritate the lungs, for example. They are not recommended for people with heart conditions and chronic respiratory problems.
*Some cleaning products may contain parabens as preservatives. This group of chemicals has been found in breast tissue and has been linked with cancer.
Many people may be exposed to these chemicals unwittingly.
*There is also an issue with combinations of cleaning products. Household bleach, for example, can be extremely toxic when combined with other products.
*Some cleaning materials contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are common in industry - some, such as methane, are also greenhouse gases. The term is a blanket catch-all phrase for chemicals which release damaging gases into the atmosphere. These can contribute to photochemical smog and ozone depletion. From a health viewpoint they are also dangerous.
*The manufacture of ingredients can involve toxic releases of chemicals as a by-product of the manufacturing process. For example, every factory uses oil products. Oil extraction and refining processes release benzene and other toxic chemicals into the environment.
Benzene is a known carcinogen. It is still added to petrol in the US and Europe, despite its health effects, because of its "anti-knock" properties.
Benzene may also be involved in the manufacturing process of household chemicals as it is a oil derivative which has many industrial uses.
(found at Green Footsteps)
I know that I have noticed that I feel dizzy and nauseated if I now use a chemical cleaner to clean around the house. Why haven't I tossed mine yet? Simply because I haven't made a trip to the dump to dispose of them properly. Then, if I run out of vinegar- I try Lysol or some equivalent, and am sick from the fumes. :S
The Green Cleaners Around My Home
*Vinegar, vinegar and more vinegar. A friend was over to my place recently and asked what I used on my sink, because it was so shiny, and was shocked when I told her, "vinegar and water".
Vinegar is used around my home on just about everything. I dilute in a spray bottle 50:50 with water. I use it on counters, appliances, floors, sinks, windows, mirrors....
Vinegar is also a great all-natural fabric softener. Just add a 1/4 cup to the rinse cycle.
I run vinegar through my coffee maker and dishwasher to give it a good cleaning.
*Lemon Juice is another fabulous cleaner. It is a natural bleach and can be used to remove stains on counters etc. I also put lemon juice in my washing machine with my whites. And I'll put some on a rag and throw it in the dryer to add a citrus smell to the whole load.
I recently read about sprinkling some baking soda on a lemon that you've cut in half. You can use that to scrub at stains that way. I love it!
*Baking Soda is great to use as a scrub. I usually sprinkle in on the counter and then spray with my vinegar and water. If you don't have any baking soda on hand, you can also use table salt in this same way.
*Borax is another natural cleaner. I use it to clean my toilet. If you sprinkle it around the bowl and leave it overnight, when you wake up it just takes a little scrub and it's clean. You can use vinegar in the same way. Straight vinegar poured in the bowl cleans and deodorizes like a charm. You don't need to leave vinegar overnight.
I hope this inspires some readers to try cleaning with natural cleaners.
If anyone out there has any tips or other products that they use, I'd love to hear from you!