About 8 years ago, I started researching chemical exposure. I found many different methods of environmental exposure. One that disturbed me was the exposure to many toxic and harmful chemicals through the products I was using to make my home clean and safe for my children. I couldn't believe the disinfecting sprays I was layering on my kitchen counters could have a harmful affect. I couldn't believe the product I used to clean my baby's highchair could cause lung problems. It was almost more than I could handle. (You can read in the following link about some of the most dangerous cleaners and their side-effects. Some of them include; skin and lung burns, exposure to highly toxic chlorine gas, increased allergy-sensitivity, hormone disruptions and some that are neurotoxins.)
I know that is a scary article but there is truth in there. It took a health scare for me to make me get serious about my research and about the things I was allowing in my home. I began looking at more natural alternatives to my toxic cleaning supplies. What I found was that there is really NO REASON to stick with toxic cleaning supplies. In addition to the many homemade recipes I found, there is an entire industry devoted to natural and non-toxic cleaning products. So if you are not into making your own, you can buy something that works for you!
In our home we started with some simple replacements. I threw out my daily spray bottle full of chemicals and replaced it with good old vinegar and water. I have been doing this for years and really love it. Now, if you have a greasy mess or a stubborn stuck-on stain, you may have to let the spray sit or use some elbow-grease. But I find that it works great for a daily cleaner. I have used all sorts of proportions, but prefer a half and half mixture for my kitchen and bathroom.
I also replaced a toxic ammonia cleaner for my floors with vinegar. It does the job and never leaves streaks or residue. It is a very clean cleaner! I also use vinegar for a number of other things. (It is a fabric softener and weed killer also! :)
Some people worry about the smell. Does my house smell like a pickle? Only for a few minutes until the spray dries and then it just smells fresh. No chemical fragrance here. Just clean!
Some people worry that it's not killing germs. There is research to show that a vinegar solution is not a complete antibacterial or a germ killer in the way of bleach. However, a 5% vinegar that is not diluted will be strong enough to kill germs, even on the toilet. I am not an antibacterial girl. I believe that you can be "too clean." In fact, there have been studies to show that there are good germs out there and wiping them all out is actually harmful to our bodies. So what nature can clean, I want it to clean! What I need a chemical to get rid of, I may just let stick around.
The next easy switch for me was my dusting spray. I found a recipe for an easy-to-make spray that works great! It uses Murphy's Oil Soap and water.
I put about an inch of the Murphy's in a spray bottle and fill the rest with warm water. Before each use, I give it a gentle shake to mix and get to dusting. It is great because it really cleans and conditions the wood too. You just want to make sure that you don't saturate the wood or leave the spray to sit for very long. It is water-based so it would cause damage if you left it on too long. As a bonus, it smells great!
There are a few things that I am still having trouble getting rid of. Comet has been in our house forever. I really only use it in the toilet bowl. I have felt guilty about the powder left hanging in the air every time I use it. So, that is my next step. Get rid of the Comet!
One other cleaning supply still has me in it's grasp. Do you remember the foamy spray that your school janitor used to clean everything? It is the best window and stainless cleaner ever!
I know, I know. But it's so fun to spray! It makes my kids want to clean the windows. This one, I may keep. Or, maybe I will try an alternative. It won't be near as much fun to use.
Bottom line, like everything else, do the best you can. Try to replace just one item. Or throw out the air-freshener. Or take the steps to find a replacement for every cleaner in your arsenal. Do your research and make the choices that will stick!