After spending years planning and building the ecofriendly home of your dreams, the last thing you’d want to do is use toxic chemicals to keep your green home clean. Luckily, there are tried and true solutions you can use to keep your home but germ and fume free.
Chlorine is often included in several household cleaners, including dishwashing detergents, toilet bowl cleaners, and mildew removers. Breathing in these types of fumes can irritate the lungs and make it difficult for people who have heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems. These problems are made worse when the cleaning solutions are used in small areas such as bathrooms. Chlorine is also highly corrosive and capable of damaging the skin and eyes.
An alternative, homeowners can use liquid soaps and detergents to cut through grease. Liquid soap, which is made from fats and lye, is perfect for homeowners who have soft water and want to find an alternative to traditional cleaning detergents.
If you do have hard water, you can still reap some ecofriendly cleaning benefits by using a biodegradable dish detergent that is free of perfumes. Detergents are designed specifically not to react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. You can find either of these products at health food stores or online at places such as True Foods Market.
Another problem homeowners face is mold. For serious mold problems, you might need to call consult with professional mold cleanup companies to see if you need a professional to handle your cleanup needs. If you have only a slight presence of mold you would like to eliminate, several essential oils have antiseptic properties that can be used to kill and disinfect mold.
Clove, lavender, grapefruit seed extract, and tea tree oil (which is an excellent natural fungicide) are naturally antiseptic, even though the might lack the EPA classification as such. For a natural mold remover, add 1 teaspoon of the essential oil of your choice to 2 cups of water into a spray bottle. (If you are using the grapefruit seed extract, add 20 drops of the oil to 1 quart of water.) Make sure to properly label any spray bottles and keep out of young hands.
As an alternative to the traditional oven cleaners that use powerful chemicals and often have nasty fumes, there are some household remedies you can use to cut down on powerful grease. Sprinkle some baking soda on tough oven stains and add water until the area is very moist. Leave the mixture to sit on the area for at least 20 minutes or as long as overnight for tough stains. You can also purchase Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner, which was declared nontoxic by Consumers Union.
Countertop and Window Cleaners
The glass and countertop cleaners you find in the grocery store often contain ammonia, which can irritate the nose and throat when inhaled. People often build up an immunity to ammonia to the point where lower concentrations of the chemical can go undetected, thus exposing people to its harmful side effects without realizing it. High concentrations of the chemical might cause skin burns, eye damage, or even permanent blindness.
For a safer surface cleaner, you can create a mixture of 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar and place into a spray bottle. It might be best to spray this mixture on a cotton rag when cleaning surfaces that might be damaged by excess water. When using this solution, be sure to avoid spraying directly on wood trim or unprotected surfaces.
If you are looking for something that is less likely to cause streaking, you can combine ¼ cup vinegar, ½ teaspoon liquid soap (the ecofriendly kind mentioned above is preferred) and 2 cups of water. This mixture is good for windows that might have product or wax buildup after using commercial products for several years.
Amy Moczynski works for web design and digital marketing firm 352 Media Group where she manages the marketing for their small business web design division. You can follow her on Twitter at @amymoczynski.