Conventional household cleaners are toxic. Using them in your home exposes you to dangerous chemicals and pollutes your indoor air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates. And there is one type of cleaner that is the most toxic.
The chemicals in cleaners cause asthma, lung inflammation, asthma-like symptoms and other respiratory problems. They also contain endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Cleaning your home does not have to mean filling it with dangerous toxins. You can have a clean home and cleaner indoor air with nontoxic homemade cleaners. A good place to start are with the most toxic household cleaners - Spray air fresheners, carpet, oven and disinfectant cleaners and fabric refreshers.
Homemade Air Freshener
Ingredients - Vodka, Cedarwood Oil
Directions - Pour 2 cups of vodka into a mister bottle. Add 1 teaspoon of cedar oil (optional). Spray throughout your house to remove musty odors.
Homemade Room Deodorizer
Ingredients - Baking Soda or Diatomaceous Earth
Directions - Set small bowls of baking soda or DE around your home to absorb
You can also freshen your indoor air by simmering herbs and spices in a small simmering pot. Consider growing a cutting garden and fill your home with the scent of fresh flowers.
Ingredients - Water, Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap, Baking Soda, Vinegar
Directions - Mix 1/8 cup of castile soap, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 1 cup of water. Stir thoroughly (it will be foamy). Pour into a spray bottle. To use - shake well, spray on upholstery,lightly scrub with a damp sponge. (from the book Natural Cleaning for Your Home, 1998).
Carpet Cleaning Foam
Ingredients - Water, Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap
Directions - Whip 1/4 cup of castile soap with 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl with an egg beater. Rub the foam into carpet stains. Rinse well. (from the book Clean & Green, 1996).
Fabric and Upholstery Refresher
Spray fabric refreshers like Fabreeze rank right up there with spray air fresheners and fabric softeners on the toxic ladder. They are loaded with fragrance chemicals, quats, preservatives and surfactants. Plus the cancer-causing contaminants 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are regularly found in fabric refreshers.
For nontoxic alternatives - Start with a base of a small amount of baking soda - no more than a 1/4 - to 8 ounces of warm water, dissolve and pour into a spray bottle. You can customize this with essential oils, but use them sparingly. Or just use the homemade air freshener listed above.
You can clean your oven with nontoxic homemade options. The simplest method is to apply a layer of baking soda to a damp oven (spritz it with water). I like to put a pan of water in the oven at 250 degrees for a half hour first to soften up the grime.
Leave the baking soda on as long as possible then wipe away the grime. You can spritz the baking soda with white vinegar for some fizzy fun. White vinegar will also remove any baking soda residue.
For heavy grime, make a paste with 1 part castile soap to 4 parts baking soda and 2 parts sea salt. Dip a sponge into the paste and scrub.
Germ Fighting All Purpose Cleaner
Ingredients - Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap, Water, Baking Soda, Tea Tree Extract, Vodka
Directions - Mix 1/4 cup of castile soap into a quart of water. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of tea tree extract and 1/2 cup of vodka. Pour into a spray bottle.