Most of the conventional cleaning products we usually see around the house are petroleum-based and might have health and environmental implications. On the surface, they might appear effective in doing what they are supposed to do - removing dirt, dust, grease and other stuff. However, many of these cleaning products do contain toxic ingredients, though in small amounts, that could have long-term health implications on you and your family. Fo example, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause respiratory problems. Phosphates, which are used to break down dirt, can also promote algae growth. Petrochemicals have been linked to cancer, while chlorine bleach, a common disinfectant, can cause health problems in the long term.
Hence, rather than use these chemical cleaning products, you might wish to consider trying many other natural products and methods that can keep your house clean and fresh-smelling without these toxic side effects.
Here are some common household items that you can use to clean the house. Not only are they friendly to the environment and cheaper, they are also safe for your family.
1. White vinegar
Vinegar is a natural and organic product. Being biodegradable, it is environmentally friendly. It is also safe to use in the house as it does not contain harmful toxic chemicals. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. While vinegar has a distinctive smell, it usually dissipates quickly.
- Clean floor tiles and walls
- Clean and shine mirrors
- Clean microwave ovens
- Clean and disinfect wooden cutting boards.
- Remove carpet and clothes stains
- Descale mineral and lime buildup in kettles and shower heads
- Pour down drains once a week for antibacterial cleaning
- Add to water in a spray bottle to remove mold and mildew
2. Baking soda
Baking soda is a sodium bicarbonate, a natural substance that can neutralize both acids and bases. It acts as a very mild abrasive cleaner perfect for removing stains from sinks, counter tops and even fine china. It causes dirt and grease to dissolve in water, so it can be used to clean kitchen counter tops, refrigerators, and stove tops.
- Dissolve baking soda in water and use it to clean the inside of refrigerator
- Remove coffee stains by sprinkling some baking soda first and then rinse the stains with a wet cloth
- Remove the dirt from the inside of the washing machine or stove
- Clean pots and pans
Lemons are acidic. Their antibacterial and antiseptic nature makes them good household cleaners. Besides the lemon juice, even the lemon peels can come in handy.
- Clean copper-bottomed pots and pans and copper fixtures with lemon juice
- Use lemon juice to bleach white linens to remove the stains
- Use lemon juice to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits
- Add lemon juice to the dish soap to remove stubborn grease stains from pots and pans
- Add lemon juice to vinegar on a 1:1 ratio to create an all-purpose household cleaner
- A few tea spoons of lemon juice added to water can help clean glass surfaces
- Lemon peels can be used to clean the bathtub or remove stains and odors from the microwave oven
Besides cleaning your teeth, that tube of toothpaste can also be used to clean your house. Use the toothpaste instead of the gel, as the paste sticks to the stains better in order to remove them.
- Remove wall stains with some toothpaste and a damp cloth
- Remove stains from clothes, carpets, shoes
- Remove water stains from wood furniture
- Use a soft toothbrush to remove stains from the inside of the refrigerator and stove
- Cleans silver and chrome products
5. Olive oil
Olive oil has often been recommended by nutritional experts for its high content of healthy, monounsaturated fats. Actually, it also has other uses, one of which is to clean your house in an environmentally-friendly way.
- Lubricate and polish wood furniture (Mix olive oil with vinegar on a 3:1 ratio or mix olive oil with lemon juice on a 2:1 ratio)
- Rub some olive oil on a damp cloth to clean stainless steel pots and pans. This can remove water stains and prevent corrosion
- Use as a shoe polish to shine your leather shoes
- Remove dirt from garden tools
6. Essential Oils
Extracted from plants, some essential oils can eradicate bacteria and mold. Given that they are strong in nature, only a little amount need to be used for them to be effective. They also leave your house with a natural scent.
- Remove the scum from shower doors and walls with a mixture of water and a few drops of lemon oil
- Clean windows with a mixture of water and lavender or lemongrass oil
- Clean carpets
7. Table salt
Salt is an excellent cleaning agent, either on its own or in combination with another substance. As salt will not scratch the surface the way a scouring pad does, it is often used for extra abrasion to remove stubborn stains.
- Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean brass and copper surfaces
- Clean the inside of ovens
- Clean grease stains from pots and pans
- Sprinkle salt on rust stains and then use a damp cloth with some lemon juice to remove them.
8. Boiling water
A common technique, recommended even by plumbers, to unclog drains is to pour boiling water into them on a weekly basis. (Some also suggest adding baking soda or salt to the boiling water first.) This will help remove any dirt buildup, as well as disinfect the drains.
At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than our own health and that of our planet. The advantages of using these household items for "green" cleaning are that (i) they are cheap; (ii) they are easily available in the supermarket (iii) they are not harmful for our health; and (iv) they are friendly to the environment.
Given the above, why not consider using them for your spring cleaning this year? You can consider it a fresh green start for a whole new year.