Non-Toxic Cleaning © 2007 by Janet E. Schultz
Cleaning the house is a necessary if sometimes dreaded chore. However, many people are unaware that the cleaning products they use every day may be depleting their health and that of their pets. The average home contains numerous household cleaning supplies consisting of chemicals that not only pollute the indoor air, but are also absorbed into our bodies and those of our pets. And contrary to popular belief, there are no “safe” levels of these chemicals in our bodies. Any amount can be too much for an individual immune system, and can cause myriad health problems.
A variety of cleaners, disinfectants, dish soaps, bleaches, air-fresheners, detergents, softeners, and dryer-sheets contribute to a “toxic soup” in the home, especially in those built “tightly sealed” for means of energy conservation. The chemicals in these products build up in the body over time, and contribute to every human and pet ailment from headaches to cancer.
Luckily, many non-toxic natural options exist. If you have access to a Whole Foods or other natural health store, you’ll find an aisle full of natural products to meet your every cleaning need. These products are free of toxic chlorine and ammonia and contain no petroleum-based cleaning agents. Popular brands include Seventh Generation, Ecover, and Mrs. Meyers. Many are fragrance-free or they derive their fragrance from a natural source, such as essential oils or citrus. These brands and many others are also readily available for purchase on-line.
Alternately, you can safely clean your home less expensively by using simple natural ingredients to create your own “non-toxic cleaning arsenal.” In fact, by using just vinegar, baking soda, non-toxic dish soap, lemons, and water, you can tackle just about any cleaning chore, and yet maintain a healthy non-toxic home for you and your pets.
Here is a summary of these simple, natural, non-toxic products and how they can be used:
Vinegar – An all purpose cleaner, disinfectant, and deodorizer. Can be used: Throughout the house: to clean windows and glass (1/8 cup in a pint of water in a spray bottle) and to mop floors (1/2 cup in a gallon of water)
In the bathroom: to clean tubs, toilets, sinks, and countertops. (1:1 with water)
In the kitchen: to clean counters, stovetops, appliances and floors. (1:1 with water)
In the laundry: as a fabric softener. (1/2 cup in the rinse cycle).
Baking Soda- A multi-purpose cleaner and deodorizer. Can be used:
In the kitchen and bathroom: use it to scrub toilets and surfaces in the same way you use commercial abrasive cleansers. *(Baking soda does leave a residue so a second wipe down with a wet cloth is often needed after use.)
As a deodorizer: put a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors or use a box in pet rooms or anywhere you need deodorizing action.
In the laundry: to boost the cleaning power of your detergent or to remove fragrance from your clothes, bedding, etc. (1 cup added to liquid detergent)
Natural Liquid Dish Soap- Another multi-purpose cleaner. Can be used:
All over the house: to clean up spills, clean counters, appliances, etc. (combine a squirt of liquid dish soap with water to fill a spray bottle).
Lemon Juice- Another multi-use cleaner and deodorizer. Can be used:
In the bathroom: to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits
On brass and copper: for shining
In garbage disposals: for freshening (toss a squeezed lemon in and grind).
Water- When heated and used in a steam cleaner (with various specialty attachments). Can be used:
On tile, linoleum, or sealed hardwood floors: as an alternative to mopping, to sanitize and clean
In ovens: to remove baked on grime and grease
In bathrooms: to clean counters, tubs, sinks, exteriors of toilets.
Also, by combining the following ingredients, you can create easy non-toxic solutions for other cleaning chores.
For clogged kitchen and bathroom drains:
Pour 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of hot vinegar. Let sit for several hours, then follow with very hot water.
For hard to dissolve soap scum or to super clean toilet bowls:
Combine straight vinegar with baking soda to make a fizzy cleaner.
For stubborn kitchen counter stains:
Mix lemon juice with vinegar and or baking soda to make a cleaning paste. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on it and scrub away!
As furniture polish:
Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice, safe for your hardwood furniture. (Okay…olive oil is a new ingredient but it’s still natural!)
1) If you feel that you need a stronger disinfectant, the least toxic option is a Hydrogen Peroxide Non-Chlorine Bleach from your local natural foods store (or ordered on-line) mixed with water.
2) Even non-toxic substances can cause sickness when ingested in large quantities. Please use caution in storing these substances where pets and children cannot reach them.
3) Natural fragrance in products can act as an irritant and be allergenic to some people and pets. Please try these products in small quantities first to test for any reactions. Or opt for fragrance-free natural products.
4) **VERY IMPORTANT: If you have cats, please avoid the use of cleaning products containing essential oils in areas they frequent, and especially in less ventilated areas. Cats can become toxic by inhaling and absorbing airborne essential oils through their skin.
In summary, there are many natural non-toxic products available to help you maintain a clean and healthy home for you and your pets. Alternately, by purchasing a few basic natural ingredients, you can create your own natural cleaning supplies. Good luck and remember, there’s no place like (a naturally clean) home!