by Tracey Pollack
Cleaning has always had a squeaky-clean reputation. Many popular household cleaners promise to remove dirt, dust and germs to improve your home and your health. But there’s a dirty little secret hiding in popular household cleaners. Those wipes, sprays, cleansers, powders and liquids may be leaving behind much more than a lemony scent. They could also be exposing you to toxic chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. In fact, repeated exposure to chemical-filled cleaners has been shown to contribute to breast cancer, asthma, birth defects and pregnancy complications. Considering how we’re all trying to clean up our diets and cut out “bad” additives in foods, isn’t it time to do the same with our cleaning supplies? Swap those harmful products for these natural cleaning solutions.
Did you know that white vinegar is good for more than brightening salad dressings and giving pickles their pucker? Its antimicrobial qualities make it a great natural alternative for toxic household cleaners. Reach for white vinegar to remove stubborn stains, clean floors and windows, clear waxy buildup, sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, eliminate mold and deodorize your drain. Mix two parts of vinegar with one part water for an economical and ecological all-purpose cleaner.
This common cooking ingredient rises to the occasion as an outstanding cleaner, deodorizer and polisher that can replace almost all of your household cleaners. A sprinkle of baking soda makes kitchen surfaces sparkle, removes grease and grime from your oven, erases stains from bathroom sinks and gets rid of soap scum in your shower. As a powerful deodorizer, baking soda works wonders for neutralizing smelly trash cans, deodorizing kitchen cutting boards and dish towels, freshening up bedroom closets and mattresses, and eliminating unpleasant smells from your refrigerator.
This natural abrasive is tough enough to scrub away dirt and stains, yet gentle enough to be safe on delicate surfaces. This makes it ideal for cleaning windows, polishing furniture and scrubbing stains off of glass cooktops. And cornstarch’s ability to absorb odor and moisture make it a brilliant base for a natural deodorant, as well as a remedy for freshening feet and removing the smell from stinky shoes. Cornstarch also gets rid of grease stains on clothing and leather, while a sprinkle on stuffed animals makes these fluffy friends look as good as new.
Squeeze some lemon into your cleaning routine because the zesty fruit contains some of the most powerful acids in food. The juice of a lemon is strong enough to cut grease, kill bacteria, remove stains and keep your whites as bright as can be. Stir up a simple solution of lemon juice and water to naturally sanitize counter tops, deodorize your fridge and erase stains from plastic containers. The invigorating, lemony scent with renew your zest for cleaning. Citrus essential oils are also a great option—just add to a spray bottle with water.
This staple in your pantry should also become one in your cleaning routine. Olive oil is perfect for polishing furniture, removing stains and loosening grime on all kinds of surfaces. Olive oil makes stainless steel appliances shine, leaves leather soft and supple, polishes wood furniture and removes sticky labels. If you already love olive oil for cooking, wait until you see what it does for your cleaning.
Try these healthier cleaning products to leave toxic chemicals in the dust.