Non-toxic cleaning agents are better for people, animals, and the environment. Harsh chemical ingredients in some commercial cleaning products can aggravate allergies and health symptoms in the long run. In addition, what goes down the drain is connected to the Earth and back to us. Here are some cleaning tips to avoid using toxic agents.
1. Make your own cleaner
All-purpose DIY cleaner recipes can be found online – it's pretty simple to do. The most common and effective one is diluted vinegar: in a spray bottle, mix one part water with one part white vinegar; if you want a scent, you can add a few drops of natural lemon or lavender oil. (Alternatively, you can use pure lemon juice in lieu of vinegar.)
To clean, apply the vinegar solution to any surface that takes an all-purpose cleaner and wipe with a cleaning microfiber or kitchen cloth. You can do this for floors as well: spray vinegar solution to floor and clean with a microfiber material. Many find that microfiber is among the best floor mop material because it holds dirt more efficiently than most traditional cleaning materials.
The vinegar solution is allergy-friendly, safe for families — especially those kids — and good for the environment. Pets, too, benefit from a natural cleaner as their noses are more sensitive.
2. Shop for environmentally-friendly cleaning brands
Some chores require more specialized cleaners – for example, cleaning windows or clearing drains. You can still make a DIY product in many cases, however you might also need to buy a commercial green cleaning product. To choose a non-toxic product, check the ingredients and compare brands.
Avid conscious cleaning experts recommend avoiding these ingredients: phthalates, perchloroethylene, ammonia, and chlorine (there are more). You might need to do some independent research to find the right brand.
Choose brands that don't use harsh chemicals, dyes, fragrance, or artificial brighteners. There are plenty of green cleaning companies that have a suite of all-purpose and specialized cleaners from laundry to bathroom cleaners. These products are also available in most supermarkets.
3. Clean frequently
Develop a good cleaning habit to ensure that dirt doesn't accumulate to the point where strong cleaners are needed. Daily cleaning with diluted vinegar or diluted pure lemon juice can maintain a clean home. For drains, put baking soda into a drain opening and pour vinegar. Cover with cloth and allow mixture to sizzle and clear the inside of the drain, then rinse away residue with warm water. Doing this routine once or twice a week can keep drains from being clogged without the use of commercial products.
Pick a cleaning routine that fits your schedule and helps you stick to a gentle cleaning habit. For the family, animals, and environment, you'll find that the extra effort and results are worthwhile.