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Monthly Archives: September 2010

4 Toxic Household Cleaning Supplies and Their Alternatives

Many of the classic household cleaning supplies that were used by our parents and their parents before them are fairly toxic. These days we’re more aware of the hazards, but not always sure of how to avoid them. These are some of the problem cleaning supplies and how you can replace them. It’s often surprisingly simple.

1. Bleach

Bleach is certainly powerful as a cleaner, and there are times when you have little other choice for getting rid of mildew. But for routine cleaning it’s really more power than you need.

Bleach is an irritant. If you’ve used it, you know this already. The fumes are uncomfortable to breathe. They aren’t good for you or for your children. On top of that, the labels even warn you about too much contact with bleach.

Replace with: Lemon juice. For many purposes, lemon juice does a very good job. Natural sunlight is also great at bleaching out certain stains. They aren’t as strong, but for most purposes they’re quite good enough.

2. Ammonia

Ammonia is often used in glass cleaners as well as other surface cleaners. Just as with bleach, the fumes are rather unpleasant, and if you read the label you can see that it’s hazardous.

Replace with: Vinegar. It’s not the most appealing of smells, but the scent dissipates as it dries, and it does a fair job of taking other scents with it. Vinegar works great on glass and other hard surfaces, and can be combined with baking soda for many cleaning chores.

3. Air Fresheners

You may love the way air fresheners smell, but their ingredient list may be enough to drive you out of the house. They may contain chemicals such as 1,4 dichlorobenzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and other VOCs that can cause respiratory effects. These can be a problem if anyone in the house has asthma or other breathing issues.

Beyond that, they don’t usually actually freshen air. They often deaden your ability to smell or simply cover up one smell with another.

Replace with: Open windows are ideal, weather permitting. If not, boil some favorite herbs or some apple peels on the stove, or spray vinegar in the air. Any of these will help with household odors.

4. Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Toilet bowls can get pretty awful looking, and that squeeze bottle is an awfully easy way to clean them, but it’s not the best for the environment. The chemicals in toilet bowl cleaners are very strong, not the kind of thing you want around your family, especially small children.

Replace with: Baking soda plus scrubbing for basic stains, borax plus vinegar, time and scrubbing for worse stains. Or buy a reputable eco friendly brand of toilet bowl cleaner. Seventh Generation makes a toilet bowl cleaner, for example.

Since many products don’t list ingredients, your best bet is to avoid cleaning products that say “Caution.” “Danger” or “Warning” on them. These will have some sort of hazardous chemical you should try to keep out of your house as much as possible.

Products with specific environmental benefits listed are better than ones claiming to be green with no claimed benefits at all. If it says biodegradable, does it say how soon? Are there no phosphates in it? If there’s a clear statement of the benefit, there’s more likely to be something to it. “Natural” and “eco-friendly” don’t mean a thing on their own.

Is Working at Home or Shopping Online Really the Most Eco Friendly Option?

ShareA part of what I love about working at home is that it’s so eco friendly. I don’t have to drive to work. Most days I don’t drive anywhere, in fact. I use some electricity around the house, but I don’t think it’s all that much. I also enjoy shopping online when it’s practical. I… Continue Reading

How Often Do You Really Need New Things?

ShareI’ve long been amazed by how often many people feel they “need” new things when what they have works perfectly fine. New dishes because they’ve been using the old ones for a few years. A new cell phone because the new model came out. Not only does buying new things when you don’t need them… Continue Reading

Some of the Best Things in Life Are Green

ShareYou’ve heard the saying “the best things in life are free.” It’s true enough, although not everyone will perfectly agree with that sentiment. Now if you start listing the things in your life you most look forward to doing, you may find that not only are many free or very cheap, they’re pretty eco friendly.… Continue Reading

Where is the Balance Between Eco Friendly, Convenience and Cost for Your Family?

ShareBeing eco friendly is not the easiest thing to do as a family. If you’re serious about it and not just doing the convenient stuff, there are going to be some sacrifices made. Where do you find the balance for your family? Most of us simply cannot afford to do all of the eco friendly… Continue Reading

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