Spring cleaning using more-natural cleaning products

child cleaning

Many of us are doing the spring cleaning and everywhere you look there is another yard sale. It is a perfect time to clean house, but if you have young children, pets or are self-health conscious, finding non-toxic cleaning products from the store may be daunting. You may want to avoid the heavy-duty oven cleaners, drain cleaners, laundry detergents and softeners, floor cleaners and polishes and general cleaning solutions you see on the aisles of the local grocery store. Have hope. There are less toxic, safer ways to get your home squeaky clean.

The US Environmental Protect Agency suggests that many of the commonly used cleaners can be harmful when breathed, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Rather than risk health for the sake for cleanliness, switch over to homemade cleaners. It may save you money, make your living environment more eco-friendly, and ensure no accidental poisoning.

The basic ingredients necessary for safe home cleaning are baking soda, vinegar, salt, lemon juice, purified water and mild liquid soap. Castile soap is a favorite and it can be diluted making it very cost effective. These building blocks along with some essential oils can do much of what more industrial-strength products at the supermarket can do. Empty containers such as spray bottles, reusable squirt bottles, and plastic shake containers can be found in every supermarket. Even better yet, try reusing these items (changing the label of course) before they fall into the recyclable bin.

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One of the most often purchased and most toxic cleaning products is Household Cleaning and Disinfectant Spray. Try this great recipe to get you started: Into a 16 ounce spray bottle, combine 3 drops of vegetable-based, liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner's, 1 cup water water, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1tablespoon white vinegar. Adding several drops of tea tree oil to boost the germ killing ability of this natural cleaning solution.

More recipes for non-toxic, homemade cleaning products:

Window cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar or ammonia with 1 gallon of water.
Toilet bowl cleaner: Add baking soda or vinegar to bowl. Scrub with toilet brush.
Bathroom mildew remover: Mix 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts water. Spray on mold and wait 1 hour.
Furniture polish: Mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice with 2 cups of vegetable oil.
Moth repellent: Make a sache with cedar chips, dried lavendar flowers, rosemary, mint, white peppercorn.
Laundry detergent: for this and A LOT of other DIY household cleaning product recipes, refer to this Cleaning Green Around Your Home pdf from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension.

Note: Even if your cleaning products are home-made from more natural ingredients, it is good to get in the habit of storing them away when not in use, just as you would conventional cleaning products. The less casually you treat cleaning products, the more respect they will receive when your children are at school, the neighbors, or anywhere that more conventional supplies are being used.

Note 2: Used improperly, even seemingly safe household products can be toxic. For instance mixing bleach with amonia or vinegar creates a very toxic, poisonous gas. A person is still wise to wear gloves to minimize skin exposure and don't get carried away -- more is not necessarily better when working with any cleaner or disenfectant.

Note 3: Think your home is completely safe? Visit http://toxmystery.nlm.nih.gov/. This is a fun, interactive game that illustrates where many common household dangers could be lurking.

For more healthy cleaning recipes and ideas check out: Karen Logan's Green Living Ideas or http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/careforyourair.html

Source (Accessed August 10, 2012):

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November 6, 2012
We should use cleaning products which are chemical free otherwise it may be risky for health. Vinegar is a good cleaning product due to its acidity.
Barb at Boise Health
November 6, 2012
Good point. Like many, I enjoy reading Hints From Heloise and she's always touting vinegar for stain removal, cleaning and sanitizing. So, I was happy to hear that the scientists at Good Housekeeping and a spokesman from Heinz support her hunch with hard science. They found that common, household, 5% vinegar can reduce mold buildup by 80-90%, viruses by 80% and, most remarkably, vinegar was found to be 99.9% effective against bacteria: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/vinegar-kills-bacteria-mold-germs.html
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