Springtime is often synonymous with spring cleaning, and that time of year is upon us once again. This year, give your old cleaning supplies a spring cleaning as well, and get rid of all the toxic chemicals. Toxic chemicals that are linked with a variety of health problems are found in many common household cleaning supplies and materials, from glass cleaner to paint. Trade in all those products that are harsh on your senses, for greener, more natural cleaners. Your health and the health of the planet will thank you. Here are some easy ways to get started.
1. Ditch the Chemical Air Fresheners
Commercial air fresheners contain chemicals that have been linked to developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities as well as cancer.
Throw open the windows and use natural fresheners such as baking soda and essential oils instead. Or heat up lemon or orange peels, cinnamon, cloves, lavender, vanilla extract and/or herbs in a pot of water on the stove to fill the air with fragrance.
Place fresh cut flowers around the house, along with plants that are natural air purifiers. This list of plants helps to remove the three main household toxins; benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
· Aloe Vera
· Areca Palm
· Baby Rubber Plant
· Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm
· Boston Fern
· English Ivy
· Ficus alii
· Gerber Daisy
2. Air Your Dirty Laundry
Literally. A typical dryer uses about five kilowatts of electricity each hour it runs, so instead, put up a clothesline in your yard or basement, or set up a drying rack inside. Be sure to run the washing machine on the cold cycle.
3. Paint Your House Green
If you plan on doing any painting around the home, be sure to choose low-VOC paint. Low-VOC paints are water-based, and because they aren't made with toxins, they don't smell. VOC stands for volatile organic compound, and they release toxins into the air for as long as six years after the initial application. These toxins contribute to respiratory illnesses, headaches, nausea and cancer.
4. Go Paperless
Instead of using paper towels to clean with, opt for rags, old t-shirts, and socks for wiping, dusting, and cleaning up messes. Use old newspapers on windows and mirrors for streak free results. Replace air conditioning and furnace filters with washable alternatives.
Go paperless in the office by signing up for paperless billing. Go online and do a quick search to find out how to opt out of receiving catalogues, phone books, and other unwanted junk mail.
5. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Chemicals linked to eye irritation, headaches, respiratory problems, birth defects, infertility and cancer are found in many cleaning supplies. You might be surprised by how easy it is to swap out your chemical laden cleaners for products you already have around your house, that are equally as effective, and much safer for you and the environment. Alternatively, you can buy green products such as Method brand.
· To Wipe Down Counters, Sinks, and Tubs:
Mix vinegar with a little water and natural liquid soap in a spray bottle. For more scrubbing power, mix vinegar and baking soda together to get rid of tougher stains and build up.
· Oven Glass Cleaner
Put ¼ cup of baking soda in a dish and add just enough water to make a slightly runny paste. Spread all over glass and wait 15-20 minutes, then wipe off with a sponge or scour pad.
· Laundry Soap
1 bar of Fels-Naptha
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda (not the same as baking soda)
5 gallon bucket
Using a cheese grater, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap. Dump the soap into a large pot and add the Borax and washing soda. Pour in enough water to cover everything and melt it in, about a gallon or less, and heat the mixture. Stir until everything is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the bucket, and fill the rest up with water. Put a lid on the bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. Use 1 cup per load.
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