Spring is in the air, and that means it’s time to break out the rubber gloves and face mask and send the kids away from the fumes. Hm, if the chemicals we used to clean are so, well, clean, why do we always feel dirty and unhealthy after using them?
The artificial colors and fragrances and harsh cleansers like bleach, ammonia, sulfates, and acids in common household cleaners are a huge contributor to indoor pollution. They off-gas toxic fumes that irritate eyes, lungs, and even skin, especially of young children and pets. Even the antimicrobial ingredient in antibacterial cleaner is basically a pesticide!
There are simpler, healthier, and cheaper alternatives to conventional cleaning—and chances are that the ingredients are already in your kitchen pantry.
- 3 cups water
- 4 tbsp liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, or Trader Joe’s Next to Godliness liquid dish soap)
- 30 drops of tea tree oil
Mix all ingredients in an empty spray bottle and shake before use.
You don’t need bleach to ward of the H1N1 virus or clean up after preparing raw meat. Tea tree oil is an age-old antimicrobial agent and has been proven in studies at the University of Catania to inhibit the H1N1 virus. While the initial bottle of the stuff is a little pricey (about $8 for 3 fl oz), you’ll have enough of it for multiple batches of your disinfecting spray cleaner.
Bathroom tiles, porcelain, kitchen sinks, and windows
Is your shower getting grimy? Dust the surfaces of the tiles with baking soda and scrub them with a moist sponge or washcloth. If you’re working with stains and mildew, spray this concoction and scrub with a stiff brush:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
For windows, dilute this mixture with 2 more cups of water and spray onto the glass. Scrub not with paper towels but with either microfiber or newspapers (they won’t leave streaks).
For very, very recent stains, pour club soda onto the mess and blot with a rag. (The Daily Green says that the carbonation brings the stain to the surface and the salts keep the carpet from being permanently stained.)
For spot cleaning:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and spray on the stain. Rinse the area with white vinegar (not red!) to get the soap and any residual stain out.
For musty carpets or old messes caused by pets, sprinkle baking soda liberally over the affected area and vacuum 30 minutes later.
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup white vinegar
- Gallon of boiling water
Pour the baking soda down the affected drain and chase it with vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes, covering the drain if you can. Once it stops fizzing, get all the residual gunk out by pouring the boiling water down the drain (remove any plastic or rubber slip-stoppers from your tub if it’s the problem drain in question). No bleach or expensive de-cloggers needed!
Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she’s been researching federal grants for college and sharing financial aid tips for adult students. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.