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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Local Article: Toss the Toxins

Apr 01, 2013 12:19AM
Five Tips to Green Clean Your Home

by Vicki Brown

Cleaning your home does not require headaches and skin irritations, pine scents and bleach. Green cleaning is just as effective, reduces harmful toxins in your home and in the environment and aligns with green living values. Here are five basic tips to get you started.
  1. Avoid tracking toxins into the home. Toxic pesticides and herbicides are sprayed in public places, are invisible and can be tracked by shoes into the home. To decrease the chances, place a doormat inside and outside of each of the doors to your home, including the garage door. Removing shoes before entering the house also helps. Both ideas also lessen the amount of dirt that comes in, which will help reduce the need for cleaning.
  2. Read product labels. Unfortunately, the words “green” and “natural” are not regulated and can be misleading. Ingredients to avoid include glycol ethers, sodium hypochlorite, naphthalene, phenol, fragrance, dyes and other hard-to-pronounce chemicals. Many are known endocrine disruptors, may cause cancer and are linked with increased childhood allergies and asthma. Look for cleaning products that disclose all of their ingredients, even though it is not required by law.
  3. Buy in bulk and concentrates to save money. Bulk products create less packaging waste and use fewer natural resources. Buying concentrated products reduces shipping weight and therefore carbon emissions. Even better, things are less expensive in bulk. Most premade multipurpose cleaners, even the green and natural ones, are ready-mixed which translates to a bottle of water with some cleaning agent in it.
  4. Reduce VOCs in your indoor air. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are molecules from a liquid or solid that evaporate into the air, even at room temperature. When you spray a chemical cleaner, VOCs are emitted and can be circulated throughout your home through the HVAC system. Using microfiber cloths and water offers an endlessly reusable, nontoxic cleaning system, saving hundreds of trees (and dollars) by eliminating the use of virgin-fiber paper towels. Used dry for dusting, or damp with water for wiping, they buff surfaces to a chemical free shine, eliminating the need for dusting sprays and window or mirror-cleaning chemicals.
  5. Go back to the basics. If you are ready for the next step, making your own safe and effective cleaning products at home, check out the fabulous resources on Google and YouTube. White vinegar sanitizes surfaces, kills mold and mildew in showers, cuts soap scum and removes hard water stains. Do not use it on granite or marble because it may etch the surface. Baking powder can be used as a scrubbing agent for sinks, toilets and tubs. Finish it off with a soothing, natural aromatherapy essential oil rather than an artificial room spray, plug-in or scented oil-sticks. The next time your foaming hand cleanser runs out, fill the bottle two-thirds with water and one-third with natural castile soap for an inexpensive and healthy refill.
Vicki Brown co-owns Harmony Clean with Debi Sarandrea. To reach Vicki or for more information, call 215-230-7700 or visit, April 2013

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