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Earth Friendly Cleaning

A Healthier Home: Exploring Non-Toxic Cleaning for You and the Environment

There are many benefits to making your own green cleaners. You may already have most of the ingredients in your cupboards. You’ll save money by not buying an array of expensive products, each targeted to clean only one type of surface in your home. And, in most cases, green cleaners work just as well as their commercial counterparts.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to use green cleaners is to keep potent toxins out of your home. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and harsh acids. Since indoor VOC levels are often two to five times greater than outdoor levels, humans can experience “eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous systems” from indoor exposure to these chemicals, according to the EPA.

“Some [VOCs] can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans,” the agency says. Most modern chemical cleaners are, quite simply, overkill, notes the nonprofit Children’s Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC). “Atomic energy is not necessary to unclog a drain, nor are the Marines necessary to combat ants,” Jan Williams writes in the CHEC’s book Household Detective. “Most of the time, we can use milder, natural chemicals ... to do the same jobs.”

Sure, you say, but who has time to make their own cleaners?

You do -- with our help. Just ten basic ingredients that are probably already in your home will tackle most cleaning jobs Your home will sparkle, germs will still run in fear from your sponges and rags, and your indoor air will be better than ever.

The Basic Ten

Stock your cupboards with these ten products, and you can clean just about anything...

White Vinegar

An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.

Baking Soda

Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.


Borax, the common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.

Hydrogen Peroxide (3% concentration)

A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.

Fresh Club Soda

A stain remover and polisher.

Lemon Juice

A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover.

Liquid Castile Soap

An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. “Castile” means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-fat-based.

Corn Meal

Great at picking up carpet spills.

Olive Oil

Makes a wonderful furniture polish.

Pure Essential Oils

Adding all-natural, organic essential oils to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties. To find pure, organic essential oils, visit your local health food store.

Last Tip - Wash in Cold Water

The small choice between using cold water and hot water to run a load of laundry makes an enormous difference. Hot wash cycles use 90% more energy without getting your clothes any cleaner. On top of that, the hot cycle makes colors fade and wears out your clothes more quickly.

source: Ten Simple Ways to Clean Green (From Green America’s (Formerly Co-op America) Real Money - FEATURE ARTICLE - July/Aug 2006)


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