As the fall season surrounds us and winter months approach, dirt, dust, and bacteria from summer can build up indoors causing air pollution. Tainted air is a breeding ground for the seasonal flu, asthma, and allergies. However, while we may instinctively reach for the common house cleansers, many of them in fact contain Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s. The EPA states that VOC’s can cause headaches, allergic reaction, nausea, fatigue, and irritation of the skin, nose, mouth, eyes, and respiratory system. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “53 percent of cleaning products assessed by EWG contain ingredients known to harm the lungs.” Exposure to these chemicals can cause long-term health issues too, for instance 1,4-dioxane (primarily used in detergents) and formaldehyde (used as a preservatives in disinfectants) are both carcinogens.
However, green cleaning provides a sustainable alternative to fighting off flu, allergy, and asthma symptoms! The following recipes for cleansers are not only environmentally friendly substitutes, but can be made quickly and cheaply right at home.
To freshen air – Mix baking soda and water and place in a spray bottle. Spray as needed.
To clean dirt sinks and bathtubs -Use vinegar to eliminate soap scum, grease, and dirt.
To do a deep disinfecting on kitchen and bathroom countertops – Wash with natural soup and water, then apply a solution of 2-cups white-distilled vinegar mixed with 3 drops of eucalyptus, thyme, or tea tree oil on the surface and rinse.
For a daily antibacterial spray – Mix 1-cup club soda, 1-cup white vinegar, ¼ hydrogen peroxide, and 8 drops of tea tree oil. Make sure to put the solution in a dark bottle to preserve the hydrogen peroxide.
For an alternative to bleach in laundry – Heat ¼ cup of vinegar in microwave for 30 seconds on high. Dissolve ¼ cups of borax in the vinegar, and add ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide.
For a solution to clean bathroom floor tiles – Mix 8 drops of dish soap, ¼ cup of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of skim milk or powdered milk and to cups of water. For best results, spray on the floor and scrub with a microfiber cloth to remove additional particles. Rinse.
To clean an oven – Fill a dish (oven safe) with water and heat until steam from water has softened the grease and grime “caked” on from baking. Then mix 8 tablespoons of salt, 8 tablespoons of baking soda, and 8 tablespoons of vinegar and use it to scrub and remove softened grime.
To polish furniture – Mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of water, and juice from 1 lemon in a spray bottle. Shake well, apply to furniture, and let the solution sit on furniture for 5 minutes uninterrupted. Then, buffer and shine with a polishing cloth.
For a toilet bowl cleaner – Put 1-cup baking soda into toilet. Next, slowly pour 1-cup vinegar across the surface of the whole bowl. Finally, add essential oils and scrub as needed.
For a good ant repellent – Simply put cinnamon in the opening of which you think they are entering. (They dislike the smell so they will likely turn around.)
Salt: About $0.69 a pound
Lemons: About $0.50 each
Essential oils: About $14.00 (can be found at health food stores)
Borax: About $5.00 for 4 pounds (can be found at supermarkets)
Vinegar: About $1.80 for a quart
Baking Soda: About $1.00 a box
Club Soda: About $1.00-$2.00 a liter
Natural Dish Soap: $3.00-$4.00 a bottle
Hydrogen Peroxide: $1.80 a bottle
Implement these green recipes into your cleaning routine to ward off those seasonal sicknesses and start your year off in good health!
Written by: Julie Elliot, class of 2015
Photo by: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_cleaning_toilets.jpg, Description – Woman cleaning toilets.jpg, 1 February 2009, 06:07:25, originally posted to Flickr as Woman’s work is never doneE, mergency Brake
For the EWG’s list of the worst cleaners, check out this link. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2012/cleaners_hallofshame/cleaners_hallofshame.pdf
Many of these tips came from http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/ddedbe6a#/ddedbe6a/16