Welcome back to Positively Real Media’s Raising Healthy Families series! Today we’ll take another look at how to keep our families healthy in a not-so-healthy world. I’m thrilled to write today’s post about a topic so important to me.
Now that it’s finally feeling like spring, I’ve got an itch to clean. There’s just something about airing out my home and thoroughly cleaning each room once a year.
For most of my life, my spring cleaning involved toxic cleaning products – yet I didn’t know they were hazardous. Of course I noticed the warning labels, but never thought much about the danger.
Today, consumers can get an idea of a cleaning product’s toxicity by EPA-regulated labels. “Danger” indicates the highest hazard, “Warning” indicates a moderate hazard, and “Caution” indicates the lowest hazard. The labeling severities are based on the amount of product needed to kill a person – or cause serious harm to eyes or skin.
Unfortunately, cleaning products in America are legally allowed to be toxic. Manufacturers are not required by law to list all the ingredients in their cleaning products. And they don’t have to report harmful ingredients or alert consumers to potential health hazards.
In the U.S., more than 80,000 chemicals have been manufactured and sold since World War II, yet less than twenty percent have been tested for toxicity.
Europe has more stringent laws about chemicals. In European cleaning products, more than 1,000 chemicals have been banned from use. The United States has banned fewer than ten.
Avoiding certain cleaners
I want a safe and clean home for my family. Because of this, I purposely avoid the most dangerous cleaning products:
- Corrosive drain cleaners,
- Oven cleaners,
- Toilet bowl cleaners,
I try to limit the use of aerosol disinfectants, cleaners, and sprays, too.
Many all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, floor cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, carpet cleaners, degreasers, stain removers, metal polishes, and floor strippers also contain toxic chemicals. These harmful products pose a real problem to families, because chemical residues are left on surfaces. The products also pollute the home with toxic odors – and because of these fumes, air inside a home is two to five times more polluted than air outside a home.
Some safe solutions
The good news, as you may already know, is there are plenty of safe, non-toxic alternatives. As I shared two weeks ago, I’ve challenged myself to do all of my spring cleaning this year only using all-natural products. So far, it’s working wonderfully.
It’s actually quite easy to make your own cleaning products, and the financial savings are amazing. With just a few basic and affordable ingredients – soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and salt – you can make just about any natural cleaner:
- In my experience, baking soda works wonders. As a natural abrasive, it gently scrubs surfaces while deodorizing – sprinkle a little when cleaning your sinks, bathtubs, or toilets. You can make an effective scrubbing paste with a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. And, you can clean your oven with baking soda and vinegar. (To easily remove crusty or burned foods stuck in pots, boil water in the pot along with baking soda; if all the food doesn’t come off the first time, try once more.)
- Vinegar is incredibly effective as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Initially I had to get used to cleaning with a vinegar smell – and remind myself that other generations of hard-working clean freaks had different scents they associated with a true clean. Fortunately, the vinegar odor typically disappears once dry. You could add lemon juice to mask the vinegar smell – and to include another natural disinfectant.
- Hydrogen peroxide is another non-toxic disinfectant. And it’s odor-free. Instead of wiping off a toilet with bleach, it’s just as easy – and so much safer – to wipe it off with hydrogen peroxide instead.
- Castile soap is another great natural cleanser. I use it daily as gentle soap in the shower, but I also love to use it when cleaning my house. For starters, simply squirt a little bit of castile soap in your toilet, add some baking soda, scrub, and flush. If you opt for a scented castile soap, your bathroom will smell wonderful. Farewell harsh, chemical odors! (Make sure you don’t directly mix castile soap and vinegar or lemon juice while cleaning – castile soap shouldn’t be mixed with any kind of an acid.)
- You also can scrub a dirty sink – or a pan with caked-on food – with salt.
When your cleaning products are all-natural, your children can help you clean without being exposed to a bunch of harmful chemicals.
What natural cleaning products do you typically make? I’d love to try your recipes!
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Today, I’ve linked up with The Better Mom and Time Warp Wife.
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