Scientists have proven, especially in recent years, that the products we use to regularly clean our homes are the most significant and dangerous sources of exposure to toxic chemicals within the home; moreover, the fumes from these chemicals, and the lasting residue on windows, counters, tables, and even furniture can poison the air within for days. Although many toxic chemicals have been banned, even cleaners we use today for windows, toilets, tubs, and dishes can be harmful to health.
Many have opted for organic or non-toxic options, but the best options remain age-old recipes for cleaners from homemade ingredients. The recipes listed below are effective, non-toxic, cheap, and most of all – good for the environment.
Windows and Mirrors
Rather than use toxic spray-bottle cleaners, use this simple recipe developed a century ago. Combine 4 tablespoons of lemon juice with a half-gallon of water for an effective and safe glass cleaner. Another green option is witch hazel, which can be found at most grocery stores. For an even greener clean, try using old rags, shirts, or cloth diapers in place of paper towels, as these are completely reusable and will noticeably cut down on paper waste.
Furniture Polish is listed on the “Terrible Ten” of toxic household chemicals, because it is made with petroleum products, which smell awful and are toxic for you and your family. One of the most effective homemade wood polishes is made with two parts of olive oil, mixed with one part lemon. Simply apply it to the spot on the furniture, and buff it away. It has a nice smell, and it is very good for the environment.
Mixing one-cup vinegar with one gallon of warm water is the time-tested formula for the perfect floor cleaner. Mop the solution onto tile, linoleum, vinyl, or even wood floors for a deep clean. The best part is that there is no need for a rinse, which saves both time and water. If the floor needs a little shine, mop over the area again with plain club soda. Be sure not to saturate the floor with the solution, as a light coat of it will give the floor enough of a shine. This method keeps harsh floor cleaners out of the house, as well as conserves upwards of 50% more water than traditional mopping.
Polishes for household metal objects of brass, copper, steel, and chrome, are also on the “Terrible Ten” list. Metal polishes do not even disclose their harshest ingredients, but usually contain ammonia and some kind of acid. A healthier solution is a homemade metal polishing paste. Use equal parts of salt, vinegar, and flour, and then rub it onto the copper or brass. Rubbing the item with a salted lemon has been known to have similar effects. For tarnished copper, use a bottle to spray the piece with undiluted vinegar, and then sprinkle it with salt. Be sure to wipe the piece thoroughly to avoid having it turn green.