Alternatives to the Use of Household Cleaners

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For those of us that clean, particularly moms (and dads), we may use cleaning products  with very strong odors. Sometimes, the smell is so strong that it makes us cough.  We use it because it works, right?  If we open the windows as we clean, the smell won’t be so bothersome.

Well, have you ever read the ingredients on the label of a bottle of cleaner?  For instance, toilet bowl cleaners, no matter the name brand, contain hydrochloric acid or HCl for all my fellow scientists.  Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid, which means that it can burn the skin.  The fumes from the vapors are very toxic.  Whenever, I’ve had to use this for lab experiments, I wore gloves and worked under a fume hood.

Some of you may use bleach to clean your toilets and for washing your white laundry.   Although like hydrochloric acid, bleach will kill the germs and “whiten whites”; however, bleach contains chlorine, which is also toxic. (If you swim in a chlorinated swimming pool, you may notice that your eyes my burn if they come in contact with the water).

Many drain cleaners contain concentrated acid.  So, since HCl and bleach are both harmful, there are safer, effective ways to clean.  Mixing 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1/2 cup baking soda will clean the drain.

As the weather is getting warmer, you see more insects. Since our house is surrounded by trees, we often find ants and other insects in our home.  Since my son is fascinated with all types of bugs, I don’t want to use any strong chemicals in our home.  We also have a dog that should not be exposed to chemicals. For gnats, I leave a small glass of apple cider vinegar in the area that they populate.  After a few days, I’ll notice gnats floating in the glass of vinegar.  For ants, I make a mixture of 1:1 white vinegar and water and 5 drops of essential oil. (I chose lavender scent, but it’s your personal preference). It kills ants (and spiders also).  I spray it around the doorways to repel the ones that are trying to enter our home.

Here is a list of alternatives that you can use in the home instead of chemicals:

1. Glass cleaner – 1 tbsp. vinegar in a quart of water

2. Shower cleaner – use vinegar in a spray bottle

3. Furniture polish – use a damp cloth or try this recipe: 1 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil, and 1/2 tsp. lemon essential oil

4. Chlorine bleach – use non-chlorine bleach

5. Toilet bowl cleaner – baking soda and vinegar. (This also gets rid of urine odors, particularly for households with boys!). Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate.

6. General cleaning – water, vinegar, and lemon juice.  White vinegar kills both salmonella and E. coli bacteria from contaminated food or water.

Simple household items can do wonders in your home.  You’ll not only make your home environmentally sound, but you will also save money.

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