This awesome guest post was written by Aamar Khwaja, Inventor of modgarden (Mod Garden). Aamar is a health advocate and on a mission to see everyone eat healthily!
Today, many of us rely on harsh chemical cleaning products in our homes to keep our environment clean. However, many standard and popular cleaning products found in your local grocery store contain a variety of toxic chemicals that may be contributing negatively to your health. Today, there are a multitude of natural products available on the market for those who are interested in developing a healthy cleaning routine. Additionally, many natural products have cleansing properties—in fact, you can most likely handle all your day-to-day cleaning needs with just a few inexpensive and environmentally safe items.
How Toxic Are Your Cleaning Products?
If you’re buying commercial cleaning products, then probably pretty toxic! The products that we use on a daily basis to bleach, cleanse, and disinfect our homes may leave countertops gleaming and windows sparkling, the ingredients in these products are probably poisonous if ingested and can have a long-term negative impact on your health. With that said, cleaning ingredients tend to vary in the type of hazard that they pose. Some may cause an immediate danger, while others may be associated with long-term effects.
According to the Washington Toxics Coalition, the most dangerous cleaning products are drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. These are corrosive products that can cause severe burns. Additionally, these products may contain chlorine bleach and ammonia, which can produce fumes that are highly aggravating. When these chemicals are used together, they can create lung-damaging gasses. Not ideal!
In attempts to mask the severe chemical smells of these products, most feature strong fragrances. For many of us, laundry detergents and fabric softeners may cause immediate effects such as a stuffy nose, sneezing, or eye irritation. The worst part of this is the fact that companies are not required to label the individual ingredients but rather mark it simply as “fragrance,” leaving the customer with no idea what is truly in the product and causing these symptoms.
Lastly, long-term health effects can include cancer and hormone disruption. Hormone disruptors can interfere with the body’s natural chemicals. Many all-purpose cleaners contain certain chemical compounds that, when in contact with nitrites, react to form carcinogens. These carcinogens can quickly interfere with the endocrine system and can cause negative effects such as decreased sperm counts, increased rates of birth defects, and higher rates of cancer.
The Solution – 10 Simple Things You Need
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The solution is surprisingly simple. A few safe, simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, and other ingredients can help with most household cleaning needs, not to mention saving you money! Here are the top 10 items you’ll need to keep your house feeling fresh.
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda can be used to replace any type of scouring powder. Most commercial scouring powders contain a blend of bleach and phosphates, neither of which are ideal for the environment. With a bit of water, baking soda does a terrific job naturally cleaning your bath and your kitchen with little to no negative impact on the environment. For an extra boost, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender and tea tree oil have great anti-bacterial qualities!). For a drain or toilet cleaner, combine baking soda with apple cider vinegar—the two react and foam. You can add this mixture to your toilet bowl which will strip off any lime deposits in your toilet. For your kitchen, let it bubble for about fifteen minutes and then rinse with hot water. This is a much safer alternative to dangerous drain cleaners and quite effective!
Vinegar by itself has many positive cleaning benefits—in fact, it can be used to clean almost anything in your house! Add a bit of liquid castile soap, a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and filtered water. This mix is perfect for cleaning floors, windows, your bathroom and your kitchen. Many find that vinegar in a bucket of warm water works great for mopping as it doesn’t leave a film. And for washing windows, vinegar and white will help strip metallic residue on screens and everyday dirt.
Borax works great as a laundry whitener and freshener. Instead of commercial bleach, you can use borax and warm water to soak stained clothes. Although it may not be quite as effective as bleach, you’ll probably find that it’s worth it! Some opt to make their own laundry detergent with a combination of borax, washing soda, and soap flakes. Borax is safe, non-toxic, and can even remove mold.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide works great as a safe disinfectant. It is a much better alternative to chlorine bleach for general disinfecting and whitening. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean tile surfaces, whiten bathroom grout, remove tub stains, and control mold and mildew.
5. Castile Soap
Liquid Castile soaps can typically be purchased in health food stores. These soaps are much safer than any other commercial cleaning product. They are eco-friendly and gentle on your skin, so it’s a win-win. Use liquid castile soap to loosen dirt and grime from household surfaces, such as floors, counter tops, sinks, showers, and tubs, and even your stove.
6. Essential Oils
Organic essential oils can be a great addition to any homemade cleaning products depending on your personal preference. They are a natural and safe alternative to any synthetic fragrance.
7. Lemon Juice
Lemons are not only a great ingredient for your culinary endeavors, but lemon juice can be a powerful tool to help clean! Lemons work as a natural and mild disinfectant that is perfect for cleaning your kitchen and leaving it with a lovely fresh scent. Lemon juice works for cleaning your microwave, your cutting boards, as well as polishing copper. If your garbage disposal is smelling a bit funky, throw some ice cubes and lemon in it, grind it up, and your kitchen will be smelling lovely.
8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is not just for cooking! Did you know the oil also has great cleaning properties? In the kitchen, olive oil can be combined with salt to make a scrubbing paste for cleaning your cast-iron pans and for shining stainless steel. It also works great for furniture tune-ups—simply pour a bit of olive oil onto a cloth and rub into scratches on your leather furniture. For wicker furniture that may be a bit brittle, rub oil into the wicker.
Cleaning with salt couldn’t be simple—or cheaper. Salt works as an effective scouring agent as well as a catalyst for other ingredients. Combine with vinegar, lemon juice, or olive oil to tackle stains, spills, and rust.
10. Steel Wool
Chances are, you might have some spare steel wool in your garage. Did you know that steel wool works great in your kitchen? Use a fine-grade steel wool with water to buff soap residue and hard water marks off any of your metal appliances.
There you go you’re ready to jump into the world of alternative cleaning products! With just a few items, you’ll be able to keep your home looking and smelling fresh without any of the toxic chemicals. Stay healthy!
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