With many harsh chemicals found in household cleaners, it is important to consider greener solutions for the health of you and your family. Typical products often contain ingredients that have been linked to asthma, cancer, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity, among other health issues. Further, many of them, if not used properly, can cause burns to skin and eyes, and even cause lung damage. Although there are many different certification organizations that claim to certify products as green, it is hard to know what to believe. Further, the government does not require that companies disclose all ingredients in their products to the consumer.
EWG.org is a great resource for looking up household cleaners to know if they are safe, but the best way to be sure your cleaners are safe is to make your own. The following chart provides a list of household items and their respective cleaning properties.
Safe Household Cleaning Ingredients
|Household Item||Cleaning Properties|
|Baking Soda||Abrasive; cleaner; deodorizer; and water softener|
|Cornstarch||Window cleaner; furniture polisher; carpet and rug cleaner|
|Ethanol Alcohol or 100 Proof Alcohol||Disinfectant|
|Lemon||Cuts grease; deodorizer; kills bacteria|
|Soap (avoid those with petroleum distillates)||Biodegradable cleaner|
|Washing Soda||Cuts grease; removes stains; water softener; cleans walls, tiles, sinks and tubs. May irritate mucus membranes. Do not use on aluminum.|
|White Vinegar||Cuts grease; kills bacteria, mold and germs; reduces odors, some stains and wax build-up. Don’t use on tile grout, marble or porous stone surfaces.|
Here are some recipes that you can use in various areas of your home. Always test solutions in small hidden areas if possible and use caution. Label any stored formulas and keep them out of the reach of children. Personally, I love the recipe for clogged drains. I promise it works!
- Surfaces (other than stone or marble): 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. Rub surfaces with the solution.
- Counters and Other Surfaces: Sprinkle counters with baking soda and scrub with a damp sponge. Also works on stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, oven tops and refrigerators.
- Microwave: Boil two tablespoons of baking soda in a mug of water. Rub interior surfaces with the solution.
- Dishwasher Detergent. Pour half a cup of vinegar in the detergent compartment of the dishwasher. Run as normal.
- Dishes. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda across the open half. Scrub dishes with the lemon.
- Garbage Disposal Deodorizer. Dump leftover lemon (or orange) peel into garbage disposal. Turn on without water until it is well ground. Let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse.
- Deodorizer: Store an open box of Baking Soda in the fridge to keep it odor-free.
- Oven Cleaner: Coat the inside of the oven with paste made from baking soda and water. Let the paste sit on surfaces overnight. Scrub surfaces next day. Wipe clean with a moist sponge or cloth.
- Mildew: Spray surface with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with a stiff brush.
- Toilet: Pour 3 cups of vinegar into the toilet and 3 cups into the back tank once a week to keep bowl fresh.
- Drains: Pour a cup of baking soda down the clogged drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes, and then flush the drain with hot water. Repeat for tough clogs.
- Windows and Mirrors: Combine 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with one liter of water in a spray bottle. Spray windows and mirrors and use newspaper to wipe. (Paper towels streak).
- Streak Free Windows and Mirrors: Dilute ¼ cup of cornstarch in a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray windows and mirrors and wipe with a dry terry cloth until polished dry.
- Wood Floors. Combine a quarter-cup of white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray onto a mop until damp and then wipe your floors.
Have you tried any of these recipes? Do you have any of your own you’d like to share?