Choose natural cleaning products for your home

By Jenny Dembinski

We have the freedom to choose from countless products to clean our home. If you are like me, I want the cleaner to do the job of removing dirt and grime, mold and bacteria, musty smells and worse. I also would like to preserve the health of my family, myself, my pets, and my environment. Is this a possible choice?

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Most cleaning products out there contain chemicals and toxins: formaldehyde, chloroform, styrene, and triclosan, just to name a few. Red flag:  the fragrance of these chemicals will knock you out as you walk down the cleaning supply aisle of your favorite super market. I will argue that you don’t even need to walk down that aisle to purchase two simple cleaners that are just as effective, cost a fraction of the price, and are natural, non-toxic, and will not harm our natural environment. These cleaning agents are baking soda and vinegar (both white and apple cider vinegar will do).

Here are a few cleaning tips, using products right in your panty:

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a salt composed of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. The natural form is mahcolite, a component of the mineral natron found dissolved in many mineral springs. Baking soda helps regulate pH; it keeps a substance neither too acidic nor too alkaline. It has the ability to retard further changes in the pH balance, known as buffering. This dual capacity of neutralizing and buffering allows baking soda to do things such as neutralize acidic odors (like in the fridge) as well as maintain neutral pH (like in your laundry water, which helps boost your detergents power).

Baking soda works well as a deodorizer, surface soft-scrub, oven cleaner, non-wood floor cleaner (1/2 cup baking soda to a bucket of warm water). You can clean your dishes, pots and pans; freshen your sponges and shower curtains; make a hand cleaner (three parts baking soda to one part water); and clean your brushes and combs (1 tsp baking soda to basin of warm water). Baking soda can be ingested as it is used for baking and is an effective antacid to treat heartburn.

Vinegar consists of about 5-20 percent acetic acid, water, and trace chemicals that may include flavorings. Acetic acid is produced by the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.  Dilution with water is recommended for safety and to avoid damaging the surfaces being cleaned. The acidity of vinegar dissolves mineral deposits from glass, coffee makers, and other smooth surfaces.

Use vinegar for cleaning shower door and windows (dilute with water and apply to crumpled newspaper for best results). Use vinegar for polishing brass or bronze, silver, and copper. It is effective in removing clogs from drains (even more so if directly poured onto 3 tbsp of baking soda placed over the drain), ungluing sticker-type price tags, and cleaning non-wood floors (1/2 cup white vinegar to ½ gallon warm water. Floors have the greatest surface area of your house; your pets and toddlers basically live there. Why not use the least toxic cleaner?

Apple cider vinegar claims to have antibacterial properties. Combine 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water to create your own all-purpose cleaner. Fruit flies a problem? No worries! Fill a cup with apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap and leave on the counter and watch the flies accumulate and die in the solution. Other uses: clean dental appliances or your toothbrush, or use it as a detangler for your hair that also removes product buildup and creates shine.

 

So many choices! Let’s do one thing: This summer let’s all try to limit our use of chemicals in our own home. Let’s choose the products that not only disinfect and deodorize but also are environmentally and human-health friendly.

Sources: Wikipedia and Care2 by Melissa Breyer

 

DO ONE THING: Choose non-toxic household cleaners

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