Keep It Green When You Clean

It’s no surprise that outdoor air pollution, be it car tail pipe or factory fumes, smog, or the ozone, can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms (not to mention allergens from grasses, trees, and the like—you get the picture). But, did you know that the air inside your home can be more contaminated than the air outside? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your home’s inside air quality and help you breathe easier.

Making the switch to alternative “green”’ cleansers will not only clean your home, but will protect your health and help save you money (another good “green” thing!). Many commercial household cleaners release toxic gases that can irritate your eyes and lungs, causing breathing problems, plus headaches and other health issues. A splash might cause a skin rash, but if a product is ingested by mouth (of concern to households with young children, where safe, out-of-reach storage is key), more severe reactions can occur, from vomiting to death.

Look closely at the label ingredients in cleaning products that you routinely use. Avoid those containing strong chemicals (like ammonia, formaldehyde, phenols, phthalates, and xylene). Never throw toxic household cleaners in the trash or pour contents down the drain; these products are considered hazardous waste and need proper disposal. Call your town hall or go online to to find hazardous waste drop-off locations in your area.

If you buy “green” commercial alternatives to harsher chemical products, choose biodegradable, highly concentrated items made from plants or renewable resources. Look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Design for the Environment” label on cleaning products. Low-cost, natural products can be used alone or in combination to clean your home effectively and safely. Chances are you’ve already got baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar on hand. Here are some non-toxic recipes for a fresh start on “green” cleaning. Always test these products on a small area first:

All-purpose cleaner: Mix ½ cup white vinegar (distilled) and ¼ cup baking soda with ½ gallon of water. Use on items such as chrome fixtures, mirrors, showers, and windows.

Scouring cleanser: Scrub surfaces like the fridge and stove top with a mixture of baking soda and water. You can also apply baking soda directly with a damp sponge.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 tsps. borax, 4 tbsps. white vinegar, and 3 cups hot water in spray bottle. Add ¼ tsp. castile or coconut oil soap for extra-strength cleaning.


By Lisa Miceli Feliciano

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