Updated: Jun 26
Clean living means being environmentally and health conscious of not only what we eat, but also what we are exposed to via air and skin. Environmental toxicity is becoming a number one cause for hormonal imbalance. It is also a factor doctors point to for the increase of idiopathic syndromes, including infertility and cancer.
There are many simple household items which are inexpensive that are just as effective, without being harmful. You probably have most of these things at home. This is a short guide on how to use them instead of expensive and potentially dangerous cleansers.
Lemon Juice is good for polishing furniture when mixed with olive oil. Shines faucets and sink hardware. Create your own air freshener: Slice some lemons, cover with water, and let simmer in a pot for about an hour. (This will also clean your aluminum pots!) Lemons as well as the juice can make powerful room and furniture deodorizers.
Hydrogen peroxide is good for naturally bleaching clothes (pour in a couple of caps full, instead of bleach in to the washing machine), getting blood and sweat stains off of clothes, disinfects wooden cutting boards and kitchen counters, effective at cleaning toilet bowls and refrigerators when you let it sit before wiping off, cleans tiles and stone counter-tops. Removes red wine and other dark stains from carpets when you use hydrogen peroxide and liquid detergent in equal parts. Safely removes certain types of mold according to the U.S. Department of Health.
White Vinegar is good for getting out deodorant stains, mustard and other difficult stains on clothes and upholstery. Adding a cupful of vinegar to a rinse cycles can freshen up bright colors and give you cleaner laundry. Acetic acid won’t harm fabrics, but it dissolves the soap residue that can dull dark clothing. It also acts as a fabric softener, a static reducer, and a mildew-inhibitor. Spray it on to tile grout instead of using bleach to clean it. Put it in a bowl and heat it in the microwave to soften hard food stains and get rid of odors inside. Mix it with lemon juice and water in a spray bottle for an all-purpose, anti-bacterial, non-toxic cleaner. It really shines porcelain sinks. Milky-looking shower doors can be cleaned with white vinegar as well as for unclogging the shower head. Add to dishwasher soap to ensure cleaner, streak-free glasses.
Apple Cider Vinegar has similar properties with added anti-odor actions. An added bonus to using vinegar around the house is that it is a natural bug repellent!
Baking soda is a natural stain remover and is good for boosting laundry detergent (you can use half detergent and half baking soda). Mix with vinegar and warm water to make an effective mopping fluid. Add to kitty litter, smelly garbage cans, hampers, refrigerators etc. to keep odors away. For burned-on food at the bottom of pots, sprinkle baking soda, add hot water and let soak over night, the food will loosen easily. In addition to putting out grease fires, it can help you clean grease spills from floors.
Just like how one has to look beyond the labels to see the truth about conventional products, newfangled “green” products cannot be trusted on label alone. The Environmental Working Group, the same organization that brought you the “clean fifteen” produce list (a list of fruits and vegetables least contaminated with pesticides) evaluated over 2000 cleaning products and tested them. Their analysis classified each ingredient, giving it a rating from A –F (A for great, F for don’t use it, it’s toxic!).
The EWG suggests using baking soda instead of air fresheners: ”[Air fresheners] also contaminate the air, exposing people to a host of undisclosed, untested and potentially toxic substances, including Phthalates, synthetic musks and allergens. Identify, clean up or remove odor sources. Open a window! An open box of baking soda can eliminate odors safely. Investigate persistent odors. They might be caused by inadequate ventilation, mold, mildew, pests or vermin.”
These items can do household cleaning and much more without being toxic. When combining ingredients, be sure you understand which ones are safe together and which combinations can cause harmful reactions. Never mix bleach with ammonia cleaners, vinegar, or other acidic substances, or color-safe/oxygen bleaches.
The biggest change you may notice when using natural products is that the smell of “clean” will no longer be a chemical or perfumed odor. Clean should smell like nothing! If you miss the signature “clean” smell, add lemon juice. To see what grade your current brand of cleaning products rated and more information on natural cleaning, please see http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners.
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