Introduction to Mona Cleaning
Green Cleaning Products: Lose the Chemicals
You don't need harsh, toxic chemicals to get your house spotless. To have a sparkling clean home without the health risks of typical cleaning products, consider natural cleaning methods.
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Going green often starts with recycling soda cans and paper, and taking reusable bags on grocery store runs. Your next green step? Rethink the cleaning products that you use every day in your home. Their toxic chemicals can have negative effects on your family's health and the environment. Here’s how to make the switch to safer substitutes.
From Toxic Chemicals to Safe Alternatives
Certain toxic chemicals in conventional cleaning products are particularly dangerous and should be avoided:
- Bleach — note that you should never combine bleach with ammonia, even when getting ready to dispose of them, because the resulting fumes can be lethal
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sodium bisulfate
Harmful ingredients in cleaning products can cause burns on the skin, eye disorders, difficulty breathing, and lead to other serious health conditions such as cancer, nervous system problems, and kidney damage. Bleach and ammonia, for instance, release fumes that can irritate your eyes, skin, and throat — and when they go down the drain, they can damage the environment.
Consider these environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives:
- To clean toilet bowls:Pour some vinegar or baking soda into your toilet bowl and give it a good scrubbing with your toilet brush.
- To clean most hard surfaces like cabinets, mirrors, and kitchen floors:Mix 2 cups of water with 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. If you like, you can add 20 to 30 drops of an essential oil for fragrance, like mint or lavender.
- To clean glass:Make a spray solution of 1 quart of water plus 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar.
- To clean kitchen and bathroom fixtures:Mix one-half cup of liquid castile soap with 4 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin, 2 cups of baking soda, and about 5 drops of a pleasant-smelling natural oil.
- To keep moths out of clothing:Place small, open containers of white peppercorns, cedar, lavender, mint, or rosemary (depending on your scent preference) in closets instead of mothballs.
- To polish furniture:Combine equal amounts of olive oil and distilled vinegar with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
- To freshen carpets:Sprinkle your carpets generously with baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum very thoroughly.
- To unclog drains:Sprinkle one-half cup of baking soda down the clogged drain; then pour in one-half cup of vinegar. Allow the solution to work for a minimum of 30 minutes before pouring boiling water down the drain to rinse.
Do These Substitutes Really Work?
These non-toxic cleaners have been found to be just as effective as standard cleaning products in getting rid of odors, dirt, gunky build-up, grease, and even bacteria from household surfaces.
Vinegar and baking soda are great multi-purpose cleaners that work on just about every surface in your home. They can get rid of odors, dirt, grease, mold, and mildew. And the best part is that you don't have to worry about breathing in fumes or that they'll contaminate the soil when you pour them down the drain.
Green Cleaning Made Easier
If you want the convenience of using a pre-made cleaner, but still want to be green, consider one of the growing number of green cleaning products on the market.
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