no febreze

Going Green 101: Non-Toxic Cleaners

Going-Green-101

Did you know the air inside your home may be more toxic than the air outside? It’s a common misconception that harsh chemicals are needed to keep your home clean. Most commercial cleaners you will find at the store contain an array of unnecessary toxic ingredients like ammonia and chlorine. There is no regulation on these chemicals and companies are not required to list the ingredients used. Even so-called “green” companies hid toxic ingredients. At the store you will find cleaners for every part of your home when all you need are a few simple ingredients to get things clean. It may take a bit more elbow grease but trust me your family and your lungs will be thanking you!

No FebrezeAre air fresheners really necessary?

If you want my opinion, then I would say “NO” all day! They disperse toxins throughout your home and give the illusion that it’s clean and fresh. The first thing you should ditch are the air fresheners. Along with propellants there are artificial fragrances. Artificial fragrances can contain thousands of different lab created ingredients to create a scent and keep it lingering. The worst ingredient would be phthalates, a hormone disruptor. It gives the fragrance a long lasting smell. Of course, you wouldn’t know if a product contains it because “trade secret” protects companies from having to share the ingredients. You can be sure that these ingredients are petroleum based. Your best bet is to avoid any artificial fragrance and just stick with essential oils and hydrosols. You can also boil herbs on the stove or bake some cookies to make your home smell good. 🙂

What should I use to clean?

Make your own cleaners! It’s easy. It can be as simple as putting white vinegar into a spray bottle! Below you will find some great recipes. If you are used to harsh cleaners and would feel more comfortable with store bought ones then scroll down a bit more for safe cleaners you can buy. It may be easier to make the switch to going green that way. It can be tough finding green companies that are honest though. So, I will tell you my favorites and how to spot the bad ones.

spray-bottleHomemade Cleaner Recipes:

You can make wonderful combinations of cleaners with some of these simple ingredients; baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, peroxide and essential oils. These are just rough recipes and are totally up for interpretation  Change them to suit your needs!

! Important Tip: Never directly mix vinegar and peroxide in one container. It will create a new chemical compound, peracetic acid. It’s unknown if it has the same cleaning ability and in strong enough solutions it’s irritating to the skin, eyes and respiratory system. It can even cause permanent lung damage (wikipedia). Also peroxide degrades with sunlight, so it should be kept in a dark bottle. That doesn’t mean peroxide itself is unsafe. Just put it in its own bottle!

Counters-Make an all purpose cleaner by mixing water, 3 tbsp. of castile soap and 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil (ex. tea tree oil) in a 16 oz spray bottle. You can also add vinegar. This works great for the kitchen because all the ingredients are food safe. For cutting boards; spray full strength vinegar or peroxide after each use and allow to dry.

Floors-For hard floors make this awesome lavender and thyme infused vinegar for mopping. Dilute the finished vinegar with water and add a bit of castile soap. Make a baking soda paste to clean grout.

Rugs-Don’t use much soap on rugs. It can leave a residue that will track dirt. For a spot cleaner and carpet cleaner mix water, vinegar and essential oil. Use hot water in your carpet cleaner. This mixture will lift dirt without leaving any residue and works great for all rugs types. For oils spills; sprinkle baking soda and allow it to sit. Vacuum it up and spot clean if necessary. For gum; put an ice cube on it and allow it to freeze. Chip off the hard gum. For pet urine; peroxide* is your best bet for removing smell. Soak up as much as you can with a towel and the pour peroxide* directly on the spot. Allow it to sit for a bit. Then follow with baking soda and vinegar. Carpet clean, if you can, to pull up any remaining urine.

Sinks & Showers-Make a baking soda paste to clean soap scum and grime. You can also sprinkle the sink or tub with it and scrub with something acidic. For example cut a lemon in half and use that to scrub or dip a brush in vinegar. For mold; spray straight vinegar and tea tree oil on it. For mineral deposits; straight vinegar works great. Let it soak. For faucets and shower heads; tie a bag full of vinegar to it and allow it to soak for a bit. Then it will clean right off!

Toilets-Baking soda and vinegar are your best friend! Put them both in the toilet and scrub with the brush. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Mirrors-Mix half water and half vinegar in a spray bottle and use it like Windex. The smell may not be great but it will dissipate once the vinegar dries. You can also infuse the vinegar with lavender and thyme or citrus peels to make citrus infused vinegar.

Wood-Use a mild mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down wood. Be very gentle and don’t saturate the wood. Dry immediately and polish with olive oil and lemon juice (or a nice citrus essential oil).

Furniture-For fabric furniture use your carpet cleaner mixture. You can even use that same combination to spray down couches and beds to freshen them up. Add your favorite essential oil. Once the vinegar smell dissipates you are left with a nice smell. For mattresses; try to clean an accident or spill right away if possible. I can’t say enough about peroxide*. It is amazing for cleaning and removing smell. I use it on our mattresses when our son has an accident. Not only does it take away the smell, but it helps with yellowing! I also use vinegar.

Walls-A mix of vinegar and water will do the trick. Be sure not to scrub too hard depending on the type of paint. You can also use a bit of castile soap.

Toys-Take all water safe toys and throw them in a bucket or sink with castile soap. Swish around and then rinse with vinegar water. Allow to dry on a towel. For wood toys; wipe gently with a mild vinegar water solution and dry promptly. You can also spray straight vinegar or peroxide on toys as a disinfectant.

Fruits & Veggies– Spraying full strength vinegar or peroxide on food can help remove dirt, bacteria and pesticides. You can also wash them with castile soap. This is especially important for foods that can harbor salmonella.

*Spot test peroxide before using on a new surface. I haven’t had any problems with rugs, clothes or furniture but you don’t want to accidently lighten the color of something!

NOTE: I have been doing a bit of reading about the antibacterial properties of oregano and thyme. I have been adding thyme tincture to my cleaners and spray undiluted oregano juice on things.

More recipes:

Laundry Detergent

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Lavender and Thyme Infused Vinegar

Safe Cleaners You Can Buy:

It may seem like there are a lot of earth conscience companies out there but the shelves are filled with “greenwashers.” You have to know how to sort out the good ones. You can’t just read the labels because even so called “eco-friendy” companies don’t disclose all their ingredients. I can’t say this enough, use EWG.org to research the companies, their products and each individual ingredient. Remember to click each product and see what each ingredient is rated. Some products may be rated an A overall but still have a few ingredients that are bad. Each brand, product and ingredient is rated on a scale from A-F.

This is why I avoid Tide like the plague.

Best:

ecoverEcover– Another great line of all purpose cleaners, laundry and dish detergent. They are made in Belgium. Their products are rated mostly B’s and some A’s. They are PETA Cruelty-Free. EWG rating

Green Shield Organic– Family owned and made in the USA. They disclose all ingredients as well as the MSDS of each product. Their line consists of all your basic cleaners. Their rating is mostly A’s with some B’s. Their laundry detergent contains soap nuts! EWG rating

Eco-Me– I just discovered this company. They list all their ingredients and are very impressive! You can find your basic cleaning line as well as a pet line. Plus they are made in the USA! They are not on EWG yet.

Acceptable:

Planet Inc– These are not the greenest but four of their products on EWG.org are rated an overall A. There are a few ingredients that are not the best but I felt the need to list them because their hand dish soap looks good (it can be hard to find a decent one). They are made in Canada and never tested on animals. Overall I would get these over most commercial products. EWG rating

Conclusion:

Remember to always question what you bring into your home. Take it slow and soak up the new information at a pace that is comfortable to you. I’m still learning something new every day. I hope this post will get you  in the right direction for green cleaning.

Please comment below or email me if you have any questions. Also, feel free to share your favorite cleaning recipes!

 

References:

Photo Credit: Spray Bottle – www.freedigitalphotos.net

About Angela Vullo

I am a mother to three wonderful children. I love to read and write. I created this blog to share my experience and tips on trying to live a green lifestyle.

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