Spring Cleaning: Natural Alternatives to Keep Your Home Healthy and Clean
Keeping your home fresh and clean is a top priority for homeowners and spring is the perfect time to get things in order. There’s nothing like glass that sparkles, faucets that shine, and squeaky clean floors. But many common cleaners contain chemicals which are carcinogenic, hormone disruptors, and neurotoxins. Here are the products to avoid, as well as their more natural, yet effective, replacements.
General Cleaning Products
From floor to ceiling, there’s a cleaning product for every surface. While they are great at removing grime, toxic chemicals are probably not something you want throughout your living spaces. Some cleaners and their fumes may induce asthma and other respiratory problems. Common products can also contain 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogenic impurity, and preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Instead, turn to naturally antibacterial ingredients like lemon, salt, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, vinegar, baking soda, or rubbing alcohol. There are numerous recipes online that use combinations of these ingredients and pair them with cleaning tools like microfiber cloths or wool dryer balls. One great all-purpose cleaner is made from a half cup of distilled white vinegar, two cups water, and 20 drops of essential oils. Pour them into a glass spray bottle and shake well. Store in a cool, dark place because essential oils oxidize in sunlight. You can also purchase more natural options at the store, just read the label. Some manufacturers still use ingredients that aren’t much better than those found in normal cleaning products so do your research before you purchase.
Phthalates, benzene, formaldehyde, propellants, solvents, and synthetic scents aren’t ingredients you want in your home but they are all often found in popular air fresheners. These chemicals are inhaled or can absorb into skin. Studies have shown that long term exposure to these chemicals can cause damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys, and central nervous system and may alter the body’s hormones, which can increase the risk of some cancers and lead to reproductive problems.
If you want to freshen your home, try making a homemade version with one cup distilled water, a half cup of vodka, and 10 to 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your vacuum filter or sprinkle a mixture of cornstarch, baking soda and essential oils on your carpet for a homemade deodorizer. If your garbage disposal smells stale, save lemon peels in the refrigerator or freezer and throw them in the disposal before running.
Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets
The fragrances and other ingredients used to make commercial laundry products can irritate sensitive skin and may cause asthma, allergies, or lung irritation. Remember, most of the chemicals you’re exposed to come from indoor pollutants so adding something to your laundry, and then wearing it against your skin isn’t helping potential sensitivities. For a healthy homemade alternative to fabric softener, use vinegar, baking soda, and water or you can use hair conditioner with vinegar and water. Just make sure you are using a natural conditioner!