Breathe Easy with Natural Cleaning Products
By Eric Vinje, Planet Natural
In the quest for clean, many Americans have invited seriously toxic chemicals into their homes. Conventional household cleaning products are unregulated even though some would not be allowed in workplaces due to Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations.
In addition many newer homes are air-tight. They are very energy efficient, but they’re not good at circulating fresh air. Instead fumes from paints, stains, furniture, carpets, household cleaners, etc. build up in our homes creating nasty levels of air pollution. According to one five-year study done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the levels of certain chemicals in many homes were 70 times higher than they were outdoors. Also remember that we’re not only polluting our homes when we clean using standard commercial cleaners, we’re also damaging the environment.
Now the world’s waking up to what’s at risk and many families are jettisoning harsh toxic cleaning agents in favor of more environmentally friendly ones. Of course some people may wonder: Does a “green” cleaner work as well as your run-of-a-mill cleaner off a grocery store shelf?
The Wall Street Journal tried to answer that question in a recent Catalog Critic column. In addition to its own testing, the newspaper hired an expert to test five all-purpose “green” cleaners and see how well they worked at destroying bacteria. While the green cleaners did a decent job at most cleaning, they weren’t as good on really stubborn stains, difficult cleaning jobs or in cases where total disinfecting was necessary. So, you may want to keep a strong disinfectant around for your total bacteria annihilation cleaning missions, but you can still do a great job of cleaning with the natural products found at Planet Natural or you can even make your own. What you lose in cleaning efficiency, you’ll gain in a less toxic household. (Remember to properly dispose your toxic cleaners. Don’t just pour them down the drain or throw out with your garbage. Check with your local sanitation department to find out what the rules are in your area.)
To have a clean, but non-toxic home consider jettisoning all the house cleaners in your supply closet or under the kitchen sink which are marked “danger,” “toxic,” or carry the skull and cross bones on its packaging.
Consider replacing them with some of the cleaners that Planet Natural stocks including our safe and Non-Toxic Metal Polish ($6.95), our Biokleen Glass Cleaner ($5.50), our Natural All-Purpose Cleaner ($7.95) or one of our other natural cleaning products.
For those who want to explore making their own green cleaning products, we’ve listed how common household items such as lemon juice or vinegar that can do a dandy job cleaning up your home without endangering the environment:
White vinegar is the gold standard for cleaning. It’s does windows, softens water, and removes lime deposits. Use it on glassware, including coffee pots, to deodorize and make them sparkle again. Vinegar’s also great at cleaning car windows as well. Just mix three parts vinegar to one part water and spray on your car’s windows. Vinegar is also great at removing sticky labels, decals or price tags.
Baking soda is another great all-purpose cleanser. It cleans, deodorizes, removes stains and softens fabrics. It’s good for cleaning bath tubs and tiles as well as cleaning up plumbing fixtures made of stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel. Baking soda is a natural for cleaning the interior and exterior of your refrigerators. Just dissolve a small amount in water. You can also pre-soak greasy or food-crusted pots in a mixture of baking soda and warm water to help get them clean. It also makes a great deodorizer for carpets or garbage cans.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that kills mold and bacteria. It’s an alternative to bleach and like baking soda does a good job deodorizing and removing stains. It can also give a boost to your laundry soap. Borax also can be used to remove mildew. Just remember that just because it’s natural doesn’t mean to borax is benign. It can be toxic to small children and pets so store it in a safe place and be careful about how you use it.
Club soda makes a great window and glass cleaner. It’s good at removing water spots from cutlery.
Cornstarch starches clothes and also can absorb oil and grease.
Ketchup reportedly is great at cleaning copper.
Lemon juice cuts through grease and removes stains. Also use it to remove stains from rust or hard water on cutlery, faucets and other items.
Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is a good disinfectant. Use in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves. Like borax, alcohol is effective, but needs to be used carefully.
Salt is a great scourer or abrasive. For example, mix salt with lemon juice or vinegar to form a paste which you apply to stained wooden cutting boards or encrusted baking dishes (enamel, ceramic or glass).
Sometimes you’ll want to combine items to get more effective cleaners. Just be careful that you know which ingredients can be combined safely. You’ll never want to mix ammonia with bleach because of the toxic lung-burning vapors that will result. Great combo cleaners include baking soda and vinegar or borax and lemon juice to clean toilet bowls. Combine one tablespoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of olive oil to get a natural wood cleaner.
This is just a short list of how you can turn every day kitchen items into powerful cleaners. Also consider searching the web for other natural remedies that can help you breath-easy with your cleaning.