Every day, many of us spray, wipe, and clean with products that contain impossible-to-pronounce ingredients and impossible-to-identify chemicals. These cleaning products do the job they were designed for, but what about potential health and environmental impacts?
Is a smudge-free window worth a wheezing toddler?
Does a fresh smelling living room outweigh a potential outbreak of hives?
The following concoctions are not only more affordable alternatives to several of the most commonly used commercial cleaners, but they are also much safer options. Jonathan Carter of Safer-America shares his nontoxic recipes.
The Problem with Air Fresheners
Your guests arrive in an hour but the house smells of the dog who hasn’t been washed in months. The knee jerk reaction is to douse everything in sight with a can of Glade or Febreze. This might solve the problem of a stinky house, but these products can coat nasal passages with an oil film or even deaden nerves in the nose. Chemicals like Acetaldehyde (carcinogen) and Propylene Glycol (allergen) cover up odors through brute strength rather than a more subtle approach to odor control.
DIY Air Freshener
For a deodorizer that is as gentle as it is effective, fill a spray bottle (thoroughly rinsed out if it has been used previously) with 1 tablespoon baking soda, 2 cups distilled water, and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Tea tree smells great and has natural disinfectant properties. This mixture can be used on surfaces ranging from carpets to couches and is 100% chemical free.
Drain Cleaner Dilemma
When you think of drain cleaner like Drano, the image of a corrosive vat of bubbling liquid probably flashes before your eyes. To be fair, typical drain cleaners contain some of the most egregious chemicals – lye, hydrochloric acid, and trichloroethane. Product liability specialists report that some of the most common cases of infant poisoning are a result of youngsters rooting around under the sink and ingesting even a small amount of drain cleaner. You don’t need harsh chemicals to unclog stubborn drains, you just need a few ingredients to loosen things up and allow gravity and water to do the rest.
DIY Drain Cleaner
Like many other DIY cleaners, a safer drain cleaners contains 3 to 4 cups of boiled water mixed with one cup each of baking soda and white vinegar. Pour this down the drain, give it time to bubble, then rinse with boiling water. A little elbow grease or unfurled wire coat hanger might also be needed to remove solid remnants.
Window & Glass Cleaner Woes
Whether they come from dog slobber or sticky little fingers, window streaks can make an otherwise clean household look unkempt. Windex is the age-old answer to these problems, but according to several insurance specialists, this product contains ammonia which can irritate the eyes and lungs, and isopropanol, which can induce drowsiness. Products like this are overkill, especially when crystal clear windows are attainable with only a few household ingredients.
DIY Glass Cleaner
Start with 1 cup of infused vinegar (distilled white vinegar canned with citrus peel and pine sprigs) combined with ½ cup rubbing alcohol, and 2 cups water. Mix in a clean spray bottle, spritz on window grime, and wipe away with a microfiber cloth. Your windows will be so clean you’ll have to double check that the glass is still there.