Reduce Chemical Use at Home
Some of the chemicals in household products can harm people, animals, and plants. They pollute the air, water, and soil when they are sprayed, go down the drain, or are thrown away. Here are some ideas to reduce the use of chemicals at home.
Buy Cleaning Products that are Environmentally Sensitive
- Many companies now offer “green” cleaning products and some good old products that have always been environmentally friendly:
- Look for products that are made from plant sources rather than petroleum and are free from chemicals that can irritate (such as chlorine) or pollute (such as phosphates).
- Murphy’s Oil Soap is an example of a vegetable-based soap that works to clean wood floors and furniture.
- For dishes, choose detergents free of chlorine, phosphates, and synthetic chemicals.
- An all-purpose, plant-based cleaner takes care of almost anything on walls, windows, countertops.
- For stuck-on grime try a biodegradable scouring powder.
- To whiten surfaces choose a non-chlorine oxygen bleach cleanser.
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Making your own products is inexpensive and easy to do!
- Baking Soda – works on proteins, grease, and animal messes, and can be used for scouring. It is also a natural deodorizer.
- Distilled White Vinegar – use to dissolve scale, inhibit mold, and to cut soap scum. Try on stains of coffee, rust, or tea.
- Simple Soap – Try castile soap, made with olive oil, or a vegetable-based soap. These attach to soil at the molecular level, so you can rinse dirt away with water.
- Soft Scrub – Add enough soap to 1/8 cup baking soda to make a creamy mix. Apply with sponge to clean and rinse the surface well. Use and discard.
Appliance Cleaner – Dry baking soda shines up small appliances. Try rubbing a teaspoon onto your appliances with a clean flannel cloth.
- Toilet Cleaner/Deodorizer – Sprinkle toilet with ¼ cup baking soda. Drizzle with ¼ cup vinegar and scour with a toilet brush.
- Oven Cleaner – Sprinkle oven with ½ cup baking soda and spray with water. Let sit for several hours or overnight before scraping up stains and spills. Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Hardwood Floor Cleaner – In a bucket, mix ¼ cup distilled white vinegar in one gallon warm water. Mop wood or linoleum floors, and then rinse with water, making sure not to leave large pools to dry.
- Glass Cleaner – Mix ½ cup of distilled white vinegar and 4 cups of water and pour into a clean spray bottle. Spray the glass and clean.
Furniture Polish – Mix 1 ounce of lemon juice and 2 ounces of olive oil. Use a clean, soft cloth and make the furniture beautiful!
Take Your Shoes Off
If you don’t normally take your shoes off at the door when you enter your house, you may want to reconsider. Chemicals (and germs) that are on your shoes can be spread all over your home, which can be harmful to your family’s health. Place a door mat outside and inside exterior doors and enforce a no-shoes policy inside.
Sources: Brownie Girl Scouts Handbook, Better Homes and Gardens (Aug 2007, Sept 2007 and Jan 2008).