How To Clean Eco-Friendly
Safer and easier methods for cleaning your house, plus environmentally friendly products and home recipes.
Clean & GREEN
Whether you make it yourself or buy eco-friendly products, cleaning your house is easier and safer than ever.
|Combine lemon juice and water to make all-natural glass cleaner.
If you are like me, your cabinets are brimming with bottles, sprays, and cans, each containing solutions for specialized tasks. We buff our furniture with one compound, destroy mold with another, and wipe our countertops and floors with still others. Yet how many different cleaning potions do we really need? And to what extent are these robust, commercial products hazardous to the environment and our health?
A modicum of research reveals that many of these common, household cleaning products are potentially dangerous, even when used according to their directions. Consider chlorine bleach, a product so established we deem it essential. Unfortunately, it is well-documented that even short-term exposure to this product may cause respiratory problems. When combined with even the smallest amounts of ammonia, such as that found in basic glass cleaner, the fumes become highly toxic. My favorite floor and furniture polishes, the scent of which stirs fond memories of my mother conducting last-minute touch-ups before entertaining, contain nitrobenzene, a chemical associated with shallow breathing, vomiting, cancer, birth defects, and death. And exposure to phenol, a compound found in everyday, popular disinfectants, has been shown to cause kidney and liver damage as well as fainting and dizziness. Not too surprisingly, this contradicts the media-driven belief that a world well-doused in disinfectant is a safer, healthier place to live.
Environmental repercussions are equally disturbing. Runoff from our everyday water supply carries these harmful compounds into lakes, streams, and reservoirs. Not only is marine life compromised, so is our own drinking water.
Thankfully, there are simple solutions to this fast-growing problem. A new generation of eco-friendly products has popped up on retail shelves. Found in both health and mainstream grocery stores, these cleaners are not only biodegradable and nontoxic, they do an excellent job of performing advertised tasks. They smell fresh, don’t irritate your skin or nasal passages, and won’t poison your children and pets. Adding to their appeal is the thrilling discovery that many do more than one job. One product to clean floors, windows, shower stalls, and countertops? What were we thinking?
Start by inspecting labels and seeking out nontoxic, environmentally friendly products. (No one will stare at you in the grocery aisle, I promise.) In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised when a fellow shopper stops to ask if you’ve tried these green cleaners. It is a burgeoning category, rapidly expanding for those of us who desire clean homes - in the truest sense of the words.
In addition to those created commercially, make your own cleaners with such tried-and-true basic ingredients as lemons, baking soda, vinegar, and borax. These are, after all, the essence of what generations of housekeepers used to maintain spotless homes. Not only will a more pure regime keep your home clean, it will work wonders on your natural conscience.
My Little Green Book
One way to look at environmental toxicity/exposure is in terms of touch points. In other words, how and where do I most frequently, physically, interact with my surroundings? Undeniably, it is in one’s home. Consequently, we should be very cautious about what we bring into our own personal living spaces.
Shortly after I replaced all the chemical-laden cleaning supplies under my sink and in my pantry, I discovered several things. My house began to smell fresher (and much less acidic) - perhaps in part because I didn’t hesitate to use liberal amounts of the pleasantly scented, natural products. My usual headachy congestion began to gradually dissipate. And, I only needed about half the amount of space and products I previously used. Call it mere anecdotal evidence or attribute it to the science of cause and effect, I am not looking back. After much experimentation, the following list of products currently stocks my shelves, keeping my home and family clean and healthy.
Seventh Generation Kitchen or Bathroom Cleaner
Earth Friendly Orange Plus
ECOS Detergent with Soy-Based Fabric Softener
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Non-Chlorine Bleach
Automatic Dishwasher Soap
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Dishwashing Detergent
Earth Friendly Natural Almond Dishmate
Earth Friendly Window Kleener
Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator
1/2 gallon water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/4 cup borax, let sit overnight in toilet bowl before scrubbing
1 part borax and 3 parts baking soda
** Products are available at area Whole Foods market and Central Market locations and at Green Living, 1904 Abrams Pkwy. 214-821-8444. www.green-living.com. ToiletClean is available at Home Depot.