If you haven’t started spring-cleaning, you will soon, so we have compiled a short-list of commonly found, environmentally friendly cleaners to save you time, money, and possibly your family’s health.
We spend lots of time in our homes. We eat, play, and sleep here, so we should be careful about the cleaning products we use, especially if we have children or family members with breathing problems or other health conditions. Some cleaning products can be harsh and release irritating fumes that can aggravate allergies, asthma, or other conditions in sensitive individuals.
One of our favorite cleaners is just plain water. Obviously, water cannot disinfect, but for jobs like dusting, we can use a soft cloth dampened with water. There’s no need to reach for a can of spray every time you dust. Some dusting sprays that say they are formulated for wood can actually have a drying effect on fine wood furniture. A damp cloth also helps contain dust particles rather than launching them back into the air just to land on the furniture again, or worse, in your nose and lungs.
Plain white vinegar (5% acidity) is another favorite cleaner. Vinegar has disinfectant properties and can do a pretty good job of cutting grease. A spray bottle filled with vinegar can be handy for light kitchen cleaning. Different websites recommend mixing various amounts of water and vinegar, but straight vinegar works well for minor cleaning and deodorizing, and the scent dissipates quickly, too. For heavier cleanups, such as after preparing raw meats on a countertop or in a sink basin, you should use a cleaner with greater disinfecting power.
One such cleaner is hydrogen peroxide (3 percent), a good germ fighter for your cleaning arsenal. Cutting boards, countertops, and other hard surfaces can be sprayed with straight hydrogen peroxide to eliminate salmonella, E. coli and other nasty bacteria. Some websites recommend spraying surfaces with peroxide first and then with vinegar. CAUTION: Peroxide and vinegar should never be mixed together in the same bottle because the two combine to create a separate and possibly hazardous chemical—peroxyacetic acid. Also, peroxide should always be stored in a dark, opaque bottle to preserve its effectiveness.
Another everyday household workhorse is baking soda. From scrubbing your face to scrubbing your sink, baking soda is a gentle nonabrasive scrubbing agent that helps remove stubborn dried-on soil without marring most surfaces. It’s also a great drain and garbage disposal freshener.
When you need something with a little oomph to remove stubborn grease or soil, try soap. Castile Soap is gentle enough to be used for cleaning or for bathing. Another pretty safe inexpensive cleanser is regular plain Ivory bar soap. Ivory does a good job of lifting many stains from fabrics, too.
Many people have a different cleanser for every cleaning requirement—bathrooms, kitchens and floors. Not only is it unnecessary to have all these different types of cleansers, but also purchasing all these cleansers is expensive. Many household-cleaning jobs can be accomplished safely with a few everyday items found around the house. If you are concerned about the safety of the products you purchase, check out the Good Guide website, which also has a mobile app that you can use to scan items in the store to check their safety before purchasing.
Most importantly, remember that even everyday household items, such as peroxide and vinegar, can have negative effects, especially if combined with other household items or cleaning products. Do your research before mixing any cleaners of any type together.