Chemicals in cleaning products can also enter our bodies by absorption through the skin or through ingestion of household dust and chemical residues left on dishes and cutlery. And when cleaning products are flushed down the drain, they can have a serious impact on aquatic ecosystems.
You're probably familiar with the hazard symbols that appear on some cleaning products, along with words like "poison", "corrosive" or "irritant." Nonetheless, we ignore them taking pride in a scrubbed fresh home. Who knows what such pollutants are doing to our overall well-being? Here are some more tested cleaning alternatives.
Vinegar is a solution of acetic acid that cuts through grease, deodorizes, and disinfects. White vinegar is the best type to use around your home since it doesn't have a strong smell. Plus, you can purchase it by the gallon for cheaper than most household cleaners. Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle as a general cleaner. It is great on tiles and kitchen counter tops for removing mildew. For a fresh fragrance add a few drops of essential oils like lemon or orange. For difficult stains, use warm water; cover the stain and leave on for ten minutes before wiping off. White vinegar also makes an excellent window cleaner that will put most products to shame. Use a half a cup in a quart of warm water. Spray onto the window and remove with crumpled newspaper.
Vinegar also removes lime deposits. To clean a shower head, simply remove it and soak in undiluted vinegar. To remove limescale from your kettle, fill it up with vinegar, and leave it overnight. Pour liquid out the next day and be sure to rinse it out before using. To descale taps, soak a few paper towels in white vinegar. Wrap them around the taps and cover them with plastic bags held in place with elastic bands. Leave on for a few hours before rinsing. Buff with a dry cloth.
Try using ketchup to clean copper and brass. Simple lather, leave on for a few minutes,rinse, and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
Don't use toxic air fresheners! Make your own. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil of choice. Try lemongrass, geranium, or peppermint. Shake well before spraying. Be sure to keep vinegar away from you eyes.
Tea Tree oil is an excellent disinfectant and fungicide. For general cleaning mix two tsp. of tea tree oil with two cups of water. Spray on surfaces as needed and wipe. This will also remove mold and mildew. Simply spray on, leave for a few minutes then rinse with warm soapy water. To keep shower curtains mildew-free and to remove strong mildew smells from fabrics, add a few drops of tea tree oil to your usual washing powder or liquid.
Borax, a natural mineral salt containing boron, can be used as a gentler alternative to bleach. To remove stains on white cotton or linen, apply directly, then rinse. Soak colored fabrics in a weak solution of borax. Simply add one tab. to one pint of water. Soak for 15 min. If you need an all purpose household cleaner and disinfectant, mix one tsp. of borax with two tab. of white vinegar and two pints of hot water. Spray on surfaces and wipe.