Walk down the cleaning products aisle at your local grocery store and it may be a bit overwhelming. There is a cleaning product for every surface of your home and rarely will they be recommended for use in any other space. Bathroom cleaners are different than kitchen cleaners and floor cleaners can’t be used on windows; there are even specialty cleaners for appliances, ovens, microwaves, etc.
Beyond the overwhelming quantity and expense, don’t forget the toxic factor. Almost every single product on those shelves will contain some kind of toxin or dangerous substance. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs, such as formaldehyde and other harsh acids. This is important because exposure to VOCs can lead to several symptoms including:
Since some of these chemicals have even proven to be carcinogenic, it’s time to toss those toxins and start cleaning green.
The first argument against making this change to green is that it’s just more expensive to replace everything in the cleaning cabinet at once. However, this just isn’t the case. Many of the ingredients recommended for cleaning green are already in the average kitchen.
White Vinegar – This is a stringent but safe antifungal that will kill germs and bacteria.
Baking Soda – This will work as a gentle scouring powder and eliminates odors.
Club Soda – Works well as a stain remover and polisher.
Olive Oil – Can replace expensive furniture polishers.
Lemon Juice – Can work well as a non-toxic bleach alternative, a stain remover and will help to cut grease.
Hydrogen Peroxide – At 3% concentration this works well as a non-toxic bleach, a stain remover and a disinfectant.
Corn Meal – Works wonders when poured on a carpet spill, allowed to dry and then vacuumed up.
Liquid Castile Soap – The word “Castile” means that it is vegetable-based and not animal-based. This cuts grease and can replace any all-purpose cleaners while working as a disinfectant.
Borax – Also known as sodium borate, it eliminates odors, removes dirt and acts as a possible disinfectant and an antifungal; but it can be toxic if swallowed so use with care around children and pets.
Essential Oils – These can be added to any cleaning recipe for many reasons. First is the pleasant smell; typical cleaning products have a strong, stringent odor which can be quite unpleasant. Secondarily, some essential oils actually have antibacterial, antifungal and insect-repelling properties. Some of these include: eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender and green tea, just to name a few.
Essential oils are best purchased from a local health food store or holistic healthcare provider since they can also make recommendations based on aromatherapy choices and safety precautions for pregnant women. Some essential oils can induce allergic or harmful reactions if ingested or put directly on the skin so it’s wise to consult with someone knowledgeable before including these in your cleaning recipes.