The first day of spring is just a couple of days away, so it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. But some of the cleaners often used in our homes could be making our homes anything but clean.
Conventional cleaners can contain harmful chemicals that can cause lung and skin irritation, asthma, and even cancer. Indoor air pollution is becoming a very big problem as our houses are so well sealed and with central heating and air we are opening windows less and less. Women are more at risk for feeling the effects of indoor air pollution as on average we spend more time cleaning. And many of the chemicals we are being exposed to have never even been tested for safety!
“It is estimated that between 80,000 and 85,000 chemicals are in use in the environment in United States, yet only about 200 of these chemicals have been tested for safety.”- Women’s Voices for the Earth
There are many easy ways to improve the air quality in your home while doing your spring cleaning. Below are just a few examples.
- Make Your Own Cleaners: Making your own cleaners is cheaper and a great way to be sure what’s in your cleaners. The terms “non-toxic” and “natural” don’t have any real definitions so a cleaner you think is safe may not be. It can also be hard to find out what’s in the cleaners so it’s often easier to just make your own. You need very few ingredients and they can easily be customized to fit your needs. You can find lots of great recipes on my blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green.
- Disinfect Without Bleach and Triclosan: Bleach and triclosan are two things often found in disinfectants and both can be very harmful. Triclosan is antibacterial and is found in most commercial soaps, cleaners, and now it can even been found in plastics. The overuse of products like triclosan is linked to the rise in super bugs. A natural soap, like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, and hot water will clean most anything. Hot soapy water has been shown to be as effective or more effective than commercial disinfects. If you feel you need something stronger try tea tree oil or thyme oil, both are great disinfectants that are safe and very effective. Tea tree oil is also great for killing mold. White vinegar also kills germs very well and is extremely cheap.
- Open Your Windows: Our houses are so well sealed now that very little fresh air is allowed in, this is good when we are running the a/c or heater but we need to get fresh air in as often as possible. Pick a day and time when the weather is nice, turn off your heater and a/c to be sure not to waste energy and open your windows. This will not only improve the air quality but also will help remove odors.
- Avoid Candles and Other Scented Items: Candles, air fresheners and other scented items normally contain fragrance which is more of a group of ingredients than an ingredient itself. It can contain harmful things like phthalates, which are linked to hormone disruption and can affect development and fertility. They can also contain neurotoxins! And those candles are normally made of paraffin which releases chemicals that are linked to liver damage, neurological problems, and even leukemia. Instead choose candles made totally of soy or beeswax, some candles labeled as soy still contain paraffin so be sure to read the whole label and possibly research the company. Also make sure the candles use 100% pure essential oils for the scent. You can also make your house smell nice using a diffuser, which always you to use your choice of essential oils. You can also add a nice smell to your home by mixing some essential oils in baking soda and sprinkling it on your carpet before vacuuming.
- Buy Some Plants: Many plants have been shown to reduce toxic chemical levels in homes and improve the overall air quality. Some of the best are aloe vera, snake plants, peace lilies, gerbera daisies, spider plants, and boston ferns.
Following these tips this spring will leave your home clean, smelling fresh, and a safer place for you and your family. You can even more tips for leading a natural life on my blog Retro Housewife Goes Green. Another website to check out if you are interested in learning more is Green Oklahoma, you will find everything from news and tips, to a business directory so you can find green businesses near you.