Many of the readily available household cleaning products
and chemicals have nothing to do with spring breeze and wild flowers; they’re not
only unnecessary, but are not people or earth-friendly, too. You can avoid toxic chemicals
and still get the clean you want and need. Try these basic yet proven alternatives.
Air fresheners contain formaldehyde, a known
carcinogen, and phenol, which can cause skin irritation on contact, ranging from mild
reactions to severe hives. Phenol can also cause severe reaction including convulsion,
coma, and circulatory collapse. Chemical based air fresheners are highly toxic.
Simmer your own air freshener on the stove. Just use low heat and check them
often, so they don’t boil dry. Cut two lemons into quarters then cover with cold
water. For a crisp effect, drop six sprigs of fresh mint into four cups of cold water. For
a delicious Christmassy smell, combine five cloves, two cinnamon sticks, and four cups of
cider. This one just might make you yearn for gingerbread!
MOLD AND MILDEW REMOVERS
These products can contain bleach and the chemicals sodium hypochlorite, a corrosive that
can burn the skin and eyes, and formaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical and known
For mold and mildew removal mix a solution of two teaspoon tea tree oil (available at
health food stores) to two cups of water and keep in a spray bottle. Spray onto mold or
mildew. Don’t rinse. The strong smell fades in a couple of days. This solution will
also remove musty smells from cloth items and clothes. Soak clothes for a few hours, then
wash normally. What can’t be soaked can be sprayed and then aired for a few days
until the fragrance of the tea three oil subsides. For mold and mildew on non-porous
washable surfaces, try vinegar or a solution of borax and water.
Common ingredients in drain cleaners include lye, hydrochloric acid, and trichloroethane.
These chemicals are very dangerous eye and skin irritants. Lye can cause severe damage to
the esophagus and stomach if swallowed. Hydrochloric acid and trichloroethane can damage
the liver and kidneys.
Pour one cup of regular baking soda down the drain and follow with three cups of boiling
water. Follow with a cup of vinegar if it’s still clogged. Using a vinegar directly
after baking soda may work. When the two mix, a foam will bubble up out of the drain. If
all else fails, you may need to purchase a plumber’s snake.
Phenol, nitrobenzene, and petroleum distillates are chemicals we can do without. Furniture
polish containing these chemicals is highly flammable and extremely toxic.
A soft cloth, a bit of mayonnaise, and a smidge of elbow grease will give your furniture a
chemical free glow. Cold tea will also do the trick. Dampen your dusting cloth with the
tea and polish as usual.
Oven cleaners have caustic chemicals and can cause severe burns to eyes and skin. Oven
cleaners cause extreme damage when swallowed. And no one likes the fumes!
Make a thick paste with baking soda and a little hot water. Dab the mixture onto dirty
spots. Wipe clean. For crusted or grime, leave the baking soda paste on overnight before
Note: When only commercial cleaners will do, limit your use and follow
instructions on warning labels. Labels that say ""Poison" or
"Danger" are the most dangerous, "Warning" or "Caution" are
also hazardous and should always be handled with extreme care.
Bleach is a strong corrosive and can burn the skin, eyes, and respiratory track. Ingestion
of bleach can cause pulmonary edema, vomiting, and coma. Mixing bleach and ammonia or
acidic cleaners like vinegar produces extremely hazardous fumes. Bleach is an ingredient
in many cleaning and laundry products—you might be surprised how many.
To whiten or remove stains on laundry, try hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide works
extremely well for bloodstains. For ink stains, soak the item in milk overnight, then
launder as usual. You can also try soaking in vinegar or make a paste of cream of tartar
and rub into the stain. Borax is a less toxic alternative to try than bleach or chemical
containing stain removers.