Looking for ways to reduce the use of chemicals in your home? Here are four things that help maintain your home that are safe, effective and chemical-free.
Whether you are concerned about the environment or just want to minimize your family’s exposure to harsh chemicals, finding cleaning products that are safe, effective and nontoxic can be a challenge. Here are four, readily available items that will boost your home’s clean quotient without harming your children, pets or the environment.
Back in the dinosaur days before Maytag perfected the clothes dryer, people used a solar-powered dryer known as the clothesline. Sun power offers benefits that automatic dryers do not.
Sunshine is an excellent bleach alternative. Drying whites, such as bed linens, on a clothesline brightens the fabric without the addition of chlorine bleach. Even heavily stained whites benefit – sunshine cuts through set-in stains such as those left behind by tobacco smoke. The UV rays have slight antibacterial properties; sunshine can act as a fabric freshener and mild disinfectant. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area in which homeowner’s associations won’t go ballistic, invest in a clothesline and try sun power the next time you do your laundry.
Lemon Juice Sweetens Fabrics
Another safe bleach alternative is lemon juice. Adding a half-cup of lemon juice to the laundry boosts brightness for all fabrics without harming them. The acidity of the juice also cuts through any soap scum or detergent residues that may be left behind during the rinse cycle. Finally, lemon juice adds a mild, fresh citrus scent to the laundry.
Hair is essentially a fabric (like wool), and adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice to your hair rinse offers the same benefits to your scalp as it does to the laundry. Lemon juice enhances blonde, grey or white hair without drying, and leaves hair tangle-free.
The Beauty of Borax
Borax (sodium borate) is a nontoxic mineral that has been used as a cleaning product for centuries. The sodium in the borax acts as a water softener, boosting the cleaning power of any soap or detergent you use. Borax is a natural deodorizer; using a half-cup of borax weekly to clean the toilet and garbage disposal keeps the bathroom and kitchen areas fresh. Borax is also a great alternative to “soft-scrub” products. Sprinkle the borax powder on a sponge, and it will gently scour fiberglass, quartz or granite countertops and other surfaces.
Get Steamed About Dirt and Germs
What cuts grease and grime, kills viruses and bacteria but leaves nothing harmful behind? Pressurized steam, that’s what. Yes, those late-night commercials for steam canisters actually contain more than a grain of truth. A highly-concentrated jet of steam cuts through baked-on grease, and is terrific for cleaning grills and cookware that may appear to be lost causes. Steam is a weapon of mass destruction to germs and viruses. Using steam to clean surfaces such as doorknobs, toilet seats and handles, cutting boards, countertops and even pet dishes (after washing, of course) kills germs and viruses that may linger behind. The recent MRSA (or: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) scares that have erupted across the country were created, in large measure, by the overuse of antibacterial soaps; the organisms that were left behind became resistant to antibiotics. No germs or viruses are resistant to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, however, making steam a powerhouse in the quest for cleanliness.
“Clean” doesn’t have to involve rubber gloves and a gas mask. Use what nature has provided, and your home can be clean, green and chemical-free.
Published in: Homemaking