When it comes to green residential cleaning, the focus is on minimizing exposure to toxic chemicals while maximizing the efficacy of the chores.
Traditional cleaners can contain some nasty stuff. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that alkylphenol ethoxylates, a common surfactant ingredient in cleaners, have been shown in laboratory studies to function as an "endocrine disrupter," causing adverse reproductive effects of the types seen in wildlife exposed to polluted waters. In addition, the EPA says that many residential cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds, which have been known to have a negative effect on indoor air quality and also contribute to smog formation in outdoor air.
Luckily, the natural alternatives are just as effective for residential cleaning as the commercial brands containing toxic chemicals.
Here are a few cleaning ideas:
- Toilet bowls: Use undiluted vinegar straight up to get rid of that annoying water ring and disinfect the toilet. The vinegar smell will go away once it dries.
- Windows and mirrors: Use a mix of lemon juice and water to clean glass areas. You can use vinegar or club soda instead of lemon juice.
- Hardwood floors: Mix one cup of olive oil and one-half cup of lemon juice for a hardwood floor polish.
- All-purpose cleaner: Use vinegar and water all-purpose disinfecting and deodorizing.
- Ink stains in carpet: Mix cornstarch with milk to form a paste that will get up ink stains.
- Grease on counters: Use cornstarch to sop up grease on the kitchen counter.
- Cleaning the oven: Mix baking soda with water to create a thick paste. Spread the paste on the oven and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe it off with a damp cloth.
You can find chemical-free brands in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Some examples include Zep’s GreenLink cleaners, Seventh Generation, Nature’s Source, Gaiam and Mrs. Meyers.
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