Commercial cleaning products often contain many chemicals that are very harmful. Prolonged exposure can cause many health problems. You can be exposed to harmful chemicals every day from the moment you wake up until the time you go to sleep and, depending on indoor air quality, sometimes even while you sleep. Studies show that our bodies and our blood-streams are filled with hundreds and thousands of chemical residues. Numerous studies have pointed out that chemical exposures do contribute to rising rates of chronic diseases and infertility.
Green cleaning products protect everyone in your household from coming into contact with dangerous substances. They are one step to ensure that your family remains healthy and safe. They also accomplish everything conventional cleaning products do — they sanitize your living space and make it more aesthetically pleasing.
You can lessen the amount of toxic chemicals you are exposed to every day just by changing how you clean your home and what you use to clean it. There are many harmful chemicals in conventional cleaning products. Some ingredients may be mildly irritating, while others are known carcinogens. Some of the most harmful ingredients to watch out for are the following:
Chlorine bleach can be fatal when inhaled or swallowed and can cause severe damage to skin, eyes, and other membranes. It is a respiratory irritant that can cause severe coughing, shortness of breath, and pulmonary edema. In other countries it has been banned and outlawed from use.
Ammonia is listed as a toxic chemical on the EPA's community right-to-know list. Ammonia is in many window cleaners and metal polishes.
Chloroform is sometimes found in fabric softeners. It is a neurotoxin that can damage the central nervous system.
Dioxin may be in any products labeled antibacterial or antimicrobial. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, birth deformities, and damage to immune systems, reproductive systems, and respiratory systems. The antibacterial Triclosan, which is found in many antibacterial soaps, can turn into dioxin.
Formaldehyde has been a known human carcinogen for a long time, but it is still used in many products such as air fresheners, disinfectants, industrial glues, and spray starches. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause skin allergies, asthma attacks, and other breathing difficulties.
Hydrochloric acid can cause burning of the skin and other tissues that can result in permanent scarring. This hazardous material can be found in toilet bowl cleaners, metal cleaners, oven cleaners, and rust removers.
Naphthalene is a suspected carcinogen that can cause eye and skin irritation, kidney damage, and central nervous system damage. It can be found in some mothballs, air fresheners, deodorizers, toilet cleaners, and carpet cleaners.
Skip the toxic chemicals that you can't pronounce and go for natural cleaners that you can make from common ingredients in your kitchen. Basic ingredients for green cleaning include baking soda, distilled white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, table salt, and essential oils. You don't need toxic cleaners to get your home clean or disinfected. Many essential oils have natural disinfectant properties; some are even antibacterial and antimicrobial. Some of the best are tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, basil, cloves, thyme, sage, oregano, and rosewood. Oregano, thyme, and rosewood have been proven to destroy strep pneumonia cells, and essential oils have been used effectively to kill the MRSA virus.
Simple, Natural Cleaning Solutions
Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to dishwashing soap to cut through grease.
Clean and disinfect cutting boards with a paste made from 1 table-spoon each of baking soda, salt, and water.
Add ½ cup of baking soda to laundry to whiten whites and brighten colors.
Polish silver jewelry with a paste made from ¼ cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water.
Remove blood from fabric by gently dabbing with a cotton ball or cotton swab of hydrogen peroxide on the spot.
Remove coffee or chocolate from fabric by mixing 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and one quart of cold water. Sponge on, then wash as usual.
Remove ink from fabric by mixing cream of tartar and lemon juice to form a paste and applying it to the stain. Let it sit for an hour, then rinse and wash as usual.
Remove grease by mixing baking soda and water or cornstarch and water to form a paste. Cover the spot, let it dry, and brush off.
Ketchup can be used to clean brass and copper.
Table salt can remove rust. Combine it with lemon juice to clean copper. Mix salt with vinegar to clean brass. Salt also makes great scouring powders.
Lemon juice can be used for cleaning many things. It is a natural odor eliminator and can be combined with many other ingredients.
If you don't want to make your own cleaning supplies but still would like natural solutions, there are several companies that make wonderful, safe, and effective cleaning supplies. Seventh Generation (www.seventhgeneration.com), Bi-O-Kleen (www.biokleen.com), and Earth Friendly Products (www.ecos.com) are a few recommended brands. They can be purchased at many natural and health food stores and even in some super-markets. They can also be purchased at many online retailers such as Drugstore.com (www.drugstore.com) and Kokopelli's Green Market (www.kokogm.com). If you would like to learn more about natural cleaning check out Green This! Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus.