Its spring, flowers will soon begin to bloom, now is the time to open the windows and let in the fresh air! For many, it’s also the time for a deep spring cleaning! Earth Day is fast approaching, and a great opportunity to take a closer look at what harmful ingredients may be hidden in your favorite cleaning products. Many common brands, even “green” brands, can contain chemicals that have the potential to cause reproductive complications, respiratory issues such as asthma, irritation to the skin and some can even burn the skin. Some cleaning products have been linked to cancer. Not only are these products harmful to the body, they are also harmful to the environment! Be aware, companies are not required by law to list many of the harmful ingredients found in these products on packaging or online. Thus, it can be difficult to know what is actually in these products. Now is a good time to replace them with safer options or try these DIY cleaning tips!
Natural Cleaning Tips
Air Fresheners: Open windows, defuse essential oils, add plants to the home, or simmer a quart of water with one of these combinations: a sliced lemon, 2 tbsp rosemary and a dash of vanilla; a sliced orange, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg and cloves; or a sliced lime and 2 tbsp thyme – Just don’t let the water completely evaporate!
All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix a few drops of tea-tree oil and 1 tbsp of white vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil such as lemon, orange, or lavender to add a fresh scent.
Infused Vinegar: Fill a jar with organic citrus peels and white vinegar. Let sit for a few days (up to 2 weeks), strain and save the vinegar for a natural cleaner. Use as window cleaner (dilute with water) or surface cleaner.
Scouring Powder: Mix 2 parts baking soda, 1 part salt and 1 part borax. Apply and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub and rinse. Bon Ami cleaning powder is also a great option!
Oven Cleaning: Put a heat resistant dish filled with water in the oven, let steam to soften backed on grease. Once the oven has cooled, combine baking soda and water to form a paste. Coat the oven and let sit for a few hours. Wipe down with a damp cloth.
Laundry Soap: Mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated castille soap. Use 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup per load.
Fabric Softener: Add white vinegar to the rinse cycle or use wool dryer balls in place of fabric softener sheets.
Silver Polish: Try toothpaste!
What to Avoid?
Phthalates: Found in air fresheners, dish soap and toilet paper. They are known endocrine disruptors and can even lower sperm count! Many companies list “fragrance” when phthalates are added.
Perchloroethylene or “PERC”: Found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers and carpet cleaners. It’s a neurotoxin and the EPA classifies it as a “possible carcinogen”.
Triclosan: Found in liquid dishwashing detergents and antibacterial soaps. Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Avoid products labelled as antibacterial, antiseptic or antimicrobial. Regular soap and warm water is just as effective at cleaning. Consider that many bacteria are beneficial to us!
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or “QUATS”: Found in fabric softeners and cleaners labeled antibacterial. QAUTS are another type of antimicrobial, a skin irritant and a suspected cause for respiratory disorders.
2-Butoxyethanol: Found in window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners. It’s in the category of glycol ethers, a class of powerful solvents. High levels can contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.
Ammonia: Found in polishing agents and glass cleaners. Ammonia is an irritant, and can lead to chronic bronchitis and asthma. When combined bleach, it can create a poisonous gas.
Chlorine: Found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners and mildew removers. It’s a respiratory irritant as well as a thyroid disrupter.
Sodium Hydroxide: Found in oven cleaners and drain openers. It’s extremely corrosive and can cause burns with skin exposure.
Marjie’s Pantry carries these great brands: BioKleen, Bon Ami cleaning powder, liquid Dr. Woods Castile Soap, Ecover and Grab Green