PROTECT Yourself: Avoiding Harmful Chemicals In Cleaning Products

Choose natural or less harmful cleaning products, and ensure that products are fragrance-free. Conventional cleaning products may seem like a great convenience, but here’s a little secret: cleaning with common nontoxic household staples is cheaper, simpler, and a whole lot safer. Here are five natural housekeeping necessities that can clean almost anything:

  1. White distilled vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner that disinfects, deodorizes, pulls dirt from wood, and dissolves hard water scale, gummy residues, and tarnish. It also works wonders on windows. Put 1/4 cup in your laundry rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes and to eliminate that scratchy feel.
  2. Lemon juice can be used as a cleaner to cut grease, polish metal, and lighten stains. For a laundry brightener, add 1/2 cup of strained juice to the rinse cycle. To remove tarnish, rub sliced lemons sprinkled with baking soda on brass, copper, bronze and aluminum.
  3. Baking soda neutralizes odors and makes a good sink, tub, oven and countertop scourer. Sprinkle it on carpets before vacuuming. Line litter boxes with a cup before adding litter. To de-grease and deodorize drains, pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes and rinse with hot water. For a “soft scrub,” mix together baking soda and liquid soap in single-use amounts.
  4. Washing soda is baking soda’s stronger cousin. It requires the use of gloves and more rinsing, so save this cleaner for extra-stubborn stains. To clean ovens, apply a paste of 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup of washing soda, plus water, and soak overnight. Add 1/2 cup washing soda to laundry as a detergent booster.
  5. Borax is a good mold and mildew solution. This alkaline mineral is found in the laundry aisle and can also be used in place of washing soda as a cleaner. For an extra-strength toilet bowl cleaner, pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet before going to bed and scrub and flush next morning. One note: borax can be harmful when swallowed, so take extra care when using and storing it.
  6. Clean with microfiber cloths – these cleaning aids do not use chemical cleaning agents and can last several years. Made of polyester and polyamide, they are untreated, reusable cloths that lift dirt, grease, and dust.

 

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