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Your house may look clean but health hazards can lurk in the very products you use to keep things spic and span. You may already know that many household cleaners are toxic and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Environmental experts warn that many cleaning products also contain chemicals that pollute the environment and pose invisible health risks to the people who use them in their homes. Allergies, respiratory problems, cancer and birth defects have all been linked to chemicals in cleaning products.
Detergents, window cleaners, disinfectants and other common products can be effective but contain hazardous ingredients. Some fabric softeners, for example, have fragrances that contain phthalates, an element that may cause birth defects and cancer. Certain carpet cleaners may contain a carcinogenic chemical that causes kidney and liver damage. Many of these commercial products can be successfully replaced with non-toxic products found in local markets or natural food stores. As a cheap and easy alternative, you can make your own cleaning products from items you already have in the kitchen.
Check The Label
Just because a product claims to be "green" or environmentally friendly, doesn't mean it is without chemicals. Carefully read the ingredients that go into making each cleaning product. Avoid products that contain chlorine, lye or any kind of solvent. If you select cleaners that are phosphate-free, petroleum free and biodegradable, you will do a favor for yourself and the environment.
You don't need to look any further than your own kitchen cupboard to find non-toxic replacements for cleaning supplies. Next time you clean, head to your baking ingredients instead of the cleaning supply closet. Items you can literally eat can also be used for scrubbing and shining. Look to ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and cornstarch as effective and inexpensive ways to replace toxic cleaning products. Invest in a couple spray bottles and microfiber cloths and you can create your own ecologically friendly cleaning kit for just a few bucks.
Do It Yourself
There are few basic mixtures that can get you started on the path to healthier, non-toxic cleaning habits. Use baking soda to replace abrasive scouring cleansers that may be packed with hazardous chemicals. You can mix baking soda with a little water to create a paste to clean tile, sinks and other kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Add a few drops of soap if you wish and use the mixture to clean and deodorize areas throughout the house. Baking soda can also be sprinkled over carpet and vacuumed up as a carpet freshener.
Use vinegar and lemon to replace surface and glass cleaners that may contain ammonia and other unhealthy irritants. Vinegar and lemon are acidic enough to use as disinfectants, yet are edible and non-toxic. Mix vinegar or lemon with a little water to sanitize surfaces, kill mildew and mold and cut through grease. Rub lemon on cutting boards and over kitchen knives to sanitize and remove odors.
You can try cornstarch instead of synthetic polishes to bring a shine to furniture while sodium borate, also known as borax, can be safely used to clean floors and painted surfaces. Dig through your kitchen cupboards, try some of these environmentally friendly formulas and create a toxin-free cleaning routine.