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Best Tips for Using Non-Toxic Cleaners in Your Home
01-12-2021 | Armbruster

Best Tips for Using Non-Toxic Cleaners in Your Home

Keeping your home clean doesn’t have to mean having shelves full of harsh chemical cleaners. There are lots of alternatives to chemical cleaners that are gentler on your home, your health, and the environment. You can make home-made cleaners with basic ingredients you already have on hand. Not the do-it-yourself type?  No problem. There are plenty of non-toxic brands that work as well as chemical cleaners. Why Bother with Non-Toxic Cleaners According to the Cleveland Clinic’s article, “Household Chemical Products and Their Health Risk,” household cleaners contain a number of problematic chemicals. Laundry detergents contain chemical enzymes that can cause or worsen asthma. Phosphates in dishwasher detergent can cause skin irritations, and sometimes, burns. Carpet and upholstery cleaners contain perchloroethylene, naphthalene, and ammonium peroxide. Try saying that five times fast! Not only are these chemicals hard to pronounce, the fumes alone can cause disorientation, cancer, and liver damage. Air fresheners typically contain a few of their own hard-to-pronounce chemicals that can irritate your eye and throat. Some reports say these chemicals can cause brain damage. That’s quite a trade off for a nice smell. Never fear, though. Switching to non-toxic cleaners isn’t hard. It can even be fun. (Strange, but true.) How to Find Non-Toxic Cleaning Products Go to your regular grocery store and head to the natural foods section. Nearby you’ll find a section of “eco-friendly” products including personal care, paper goods, and household cleaners. While you’re there, read some labels…..cautiously. It’s easy for companies to claim that their product is non-toxic and eco-friendly, even if they are marginally so. Some companies are guilty of “greenwashing” in their labeling—making their product seem eco-friendly even if it isn’t. Don’t worry. You’ll learn to recognize trustworthy certifications GreenSeal.org or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice. Check out Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning where you can research over 2500 products to find their ratings and a breakdown of ingredients. If you like to take things into your own hands, give one of these homemade cleaners a go. Say Hello to Baking Soda and Vinegar Ask your grandmother what she and her mother used to clean their houses.  Chances are they did a lot of cleaning with these non-toxic cleaners. Starting with the baking soda and vinegar in your kitchen cabinets, you can mix up quite a few home cleaners. Buy two or three gallon-sized jugs of vinegar and a few 16-oz boxes of baking soda. You’ll be well stocked for several months. Get ready to be wowed because both baking soda and vinegar can clean a remarkable number of surfaces in your home. Used alone or together, they are the reigning royalty of green home cleaning. Cleaning with Baking Soda Baking soda can be used to clean: Laundry: Added to the rinse cycle or sprinkled directly on clothes (check your machine’s owner’s manual) baking soda gives laundry a fresh kick. Carpets: Mix 2 cups of baking soda with 10-drops of essential oil. Sprinkle baking soda on carpet using a colander to sift into a fine powder. Let baking soda sit for several hours or overnight. Vacuum to remove baking soda. The baking soda will absorb odors from the carpet and the essential oils will circulate a non-toxic, pleasant scent. You’ll notice even the vacuum exhaust smells better. Bathroom sinks and tile: You can make a paste of ½ cup baking soda and 1-2 tablespoons of dish soap to scrub sinks, tubs, toilet bowls, and tiled shower stalls. Use this recipe to replace scrub cleaners only. If you have surface that are easily scratched, this isn’t the formula to use (keep reading!) Drains: Add a few drops of essential oil to 1-2 cups of baking soda. To avoid odors in drains, mixture in drain and let sit several hours. When ready to rinse, add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the drain. Allow vinegar and soda mixture to foam up, then rinse with water. The foaming action will loosen soap scum to be washed down the drain. Cleaning with Vinegar Vinegar is a workhorse. And it’s cheap! You can buy a gallon for well under five dollars, and you can get a lotof cleaning done with that gallon. Grab two clean spray bottles. Keep one filled with straight vinegar. Use the other for a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture. Vinegar can clean: Windows Use a mix of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray on your windows and wipe with a soft cloth. This method leaves fewer streaks behind than commercial ammonia cleaners. Shower stall doors This works better if you warm up the vinegar first. To get water stains and soap scum off of your shower door, soak a soft washcloth in warm vinegar and wet the door from top to bottom. Let the vinegar stay on the glass door for a few minutes. Repeat the process two or three times. Use the wash cloth to scrub away the grime. Laminate and Tile Countertops A 50/50 spray can cut through the gunk around faucets. A few sprays and a wipe with cloth or sponges and you’re good to go. Laundry Add a half cup of vinegar to the wash cycle with your laundry detergent. Vinegar breaks up detergent that clings to your clean clothes. Vinegar in the rinse cycle can replace fabric softener and static guard dryer sheets. Dish Soap and Water in a Spray Bottle This is probably the easiest and cheapest swap you can make if you are looking to make your home cleaning a little bit greener. Fill a clean spray bottle with water. Add several drops of dish soap. Shake the bottle and spray. Plain old soap is one of the best germ cleaners you can find. Use this spray on:
  • kitchen and bathroom counter tops
  • refrigerator and oven door handles
  • sink faucets
  • doorknobs
For really dirty jobs add more dish soap. Just be sure to wipe down the surface a final time to remove soap residue. If you want an extra cleaning kick, add a few drops of tea tree essential oil and a quarter cup of vinegar.   Want to learn more about using non-toxic cleaners in your home? Stay tuned for our spring-cleaning blog in April.   Have a move in your future? Contact us to see how we can help!    
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