Spring is here, and that means it’s time for spring cleaning. But did you know that many of your household cleaners could be hazardous to your health? Before grabbing your Windex, read on.
The EPA warns that many commonly-used home cleaning products damage both our health and our water supply. Look at the labels of your industrial-strength window, toilet, and drain cleaners – many of those unpronounceable ingredients have been linked to cancer and respiratory problems. And most of them are completely unnecessary. Many benign kitchen ingredients, such as vinegar and baking soda, do as good a job without endangering you and your family. If you don’t want to make your own, companies such as Seventh Generation use biodegradable ingredients that do not pose health hazards for your family or our waterways. Even Clorox now has a whole line of “green cleaners” endorsed by the Sierra Club!
I like to make homemade green cleaning products – it’s easy and saves money. White vinegar and water makes a great all-purpose cleaner and work really well for glass and bathroom surfaces. Recipes abound on the web for simple and effective cleaners using everyday ingredients; a web search of “green cleaners” will yield numerous suggestions for tackling household chores without dangerous chemicals. Consumer Reports has an excellent list of recipes on their website. Your home can be clean and healthy.
Be aware that products meant to “freshen” air and fabric also contain unregulated chemicals you may not want to breathe. Adding a few drops of essential oil to your homemade cleaning solutions can add pleasant scents without harmful chemicals.
Green your cleaning further by using reusable cloths instead of disposable paper towels and wipes. Ultimately, everything we do to live more sustainably and protect our ecosystem will come back to us as better health.
Susannah Shmurak is an educator, writer, and activist who advocates for environmentally-sound and healthy choices in our daily lives.