Environmental Health Tip of the Week: Non-Toxic Home Cleaning

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How many times have you plugged your nose or felt your eyes water from the chemicals in “extra-strength” household cleaners?  We’ve become so accustomed to using chemical products that we’ve come to think we need to endure their sting in order keep our homes clean and healthy.

But let’s just think about that for a moment:  if our bodies react adversely to the chemicals in conventional cleaning products, shouldn’t we take the hint that these products are affecting our health?

The truth is that many home cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals.  Here are just a few quick examples:

•     A common disinfectant spray contains triethanolamine, which causes genetic damage.

•     A common kitchen cleaner contains bleach (sodium hypochlorite), which causes genetic damage.  But wait; there’s more:  it also damages the immune system.

•     A common window cleaner contains 2-butoxyethanol, which is science-speak for “chemical that causes miscarriages and tumors.”

Instead of spreading harsh chemicals around your home, why not look for healthier, non-toxic solutions? Natural ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda are extremely effective at cleaning household dirt and messes.  In fact, many Center for Environmental Health members swear by our safe cleaning products and insist these safe cleaners are  just as effective as conventional cleaners.

Here are our top three tips for efficient, non-toxic home cleaning.

1. All-Purpose Cleaner (for countertops, floors, walls, carpets, and upholstery)

• Use 1 teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent or soap

• 1 cup of water

• 8 oz spray bottle

Fill a spray bottle with warm water, then add the liquid detergent or soap, and mix well. Spray on then wipe off. To remove soap residue, use a vinegar rinse.

2. Natural Furniture Polish

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

• ¼ cup white distilled vinegar

• 10 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Put the oil in a 16-oz spray bottle. Add the essential oil, if desired. Add the vinegar, then fill the bottle with water. Shake well. Spray the mixture onto your rag or directly on the furniture. After polishing, use a second rag to dry the furniture immediately.

3. Mold & Mildew Treatment

• ½ cup 3% hydrogen peroxide solution

• 1 cup of water

Combine the hydrogen peroxide and water. Sponge the mixture onto the moldy area, and let it dry. Don’t rinse it. Take care not to get hydrogen peroxide in your eyes.  If you do, flush your eyes with water for several minutes.

To prevent mold and mildew, after a bath or shower, use a fan to dry the bathroom. If you don’t have a bathroom fan, buy an inexpensive window fan, and place it in the window so that the air is blowing outdoors. Run it for fifteen minutes after each bath or shower to dry the bathroom.

For more useful home cleaning tips and recipes, click here.

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Ali manages the website and coordinates the online communications of CEH. She works with the communications and development staff to create messaging strategies and public education content for CEH’s supporters and online audience. A Bay Area native, Ali attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a B.A. in Sociology and Cultural Studies. This allowed her to live abroad in Argentina, where she studied Latin American history and learned valuable Spanish language skills. Ali is thrilled to be part of an organization that advocates for healthy communities so effectively.