When it comes to cleaning your home, it is very tempting to use products that contain ingredients such as bleach and ammonia. They get the job done, but not without doing a number on your eyes, airways, and, with enough exposure, your nervous system.
Ironically, these cleaners also pollute. Disinfectants and other chemicals washing down drains now contaminate more than two-thirds of U.S. streams. Because of products like these, our indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside.
But you don’t have to sacrifice health for a clean home. Natural, non-toxic cleaners can clean just as good at a minimal cost:
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a deodorizer and gentle scrub that softens hard water, removes acidic stains, and polishes shiny surfaces like stainless steel without scratching.
Distilled white vinegaris a deodorizer, disinfectant, mild acid, and preservative that breaks up dirt, grease, mineral deposits, mold, and soap scum.
Essential oils/aromatic plant oils, like eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree, are natural disinfectants and antifungals. Pure essential oils can irritate eyes and skin upon contact, so handle carefully. (Pregnant women should consult a health-care practitioner before using).
Lemons can be used as deodorizers, stain removers, and grease cutters. They also act as a mild bleach when exposed to sunlight.
Olive oil is a natural oil that helps to nourish and polish wood.
Plant-based liquid soaps, like Castile soap, are gentle soaps made with oils such as olive, palm, and coconut, rather than petroleum derivatives or animal fat.