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5 Natural Cleaning Products In Your Kitchen

When you learn the hazards of chemical cleaners, natural cleaning products are the only option!

By Stephen Hibberd

It doesn’t need to be spring to get the urge to do some spring cleaning! This year, however, you might want to change your approach to a greener one.

Instead of using the toxic commercial  products commonly sold in stores, why not go for something more natural?Constant exposure to toxic cleaning products can take a serious toll on your health and wellbeing.

he most dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners, according to Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition. Such chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if inhaled, on the throat and esophagus. Ingredients with high acute toxicity include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce fumes that are highly irritating to eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and should not be used by people with asthma or lung or heart problems.

Fragrances added to many cleaners, most notably laundry detergents and fabric softeners, may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes in sensitive individuals or allergy and asthma sufferers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that 1/3 of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. But because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing “fragrance.”

Other ingredients in cleaners may have low acute toxicity but contribute to long-term health effects, such as cancer or hormone disruption. Chemicals found in cleaners and air fresheners that are so-called “hormone disruptors” can interfere with the body’s natural chemical messages, either by blocking or mimicking the actions of hormones. Possible health effects include decreased sperm counts, increased rates of male birth defects such as undescended testicles, and increased rates of some kinds of cancers.

Environmental damage

After bubbly cleaning liquids disappear down our drains, they are treated along with sewage at local treatment plants, before being discharged into our waterways. Most ingredients in chemical cleaners break down into harmless substances during treatment or soon afterward. Others, however, don’t.

These threaten our drinking water quality and harm fish and other wildlife. In a May 2002 study of contaminants in stream water samples across the country, the U.S. Geological Survey found persistent detergent metabolites in 69% of streams tested. Sixty-six percent contained disinfectants that contained hormone disruptors.

Another famous water pollutant is phosphates, a water-softening mineral additive that was once widely used in laundry detergents and other cleaners. When phosphates enter waterways, they act as a fertilizer, spawning overgrowth of algae. This overabundance of aquatic plant life eventually depletes the water’s oxygen supply, killing off fish and other organisms.

Although many states have banned phosphates from laundry detergents and some other cleaners, they are still used in automatic dishwasher detergents.

Old school is new again

The truth is that many chemical cleaners that we use today were only developed after the Second World War. Prior to that, our grandparents and great-grandparents used natural cleaning products, often found in their kitchens. And we can do the same!

These cleaners are just as efficient as anything chemical. All you need to do, perhaps, is scrub a bit harder.

Ready to get to work? Here’s a quick guide to 5 natural cleaning products that are cheap, efficient, and 100% non-toxic.

5 Natural Cleaning Products In Your Kitchen

Vinegar

I’m sure you’ve heard of this method before and there’s a reason for that – it works, it’s cheap and efficient. There are loads of natural cleaners but vinegar definitely tops the charts. You can use white or apple cider vinegar.

Here are just a few examples of what vinegar can be used to clean with:

  • Mirrors

  • Shower head & curtain

  • Bathroom floors

  • Kitchen taps

  • Windows

  • Furniture and decks

  • Soften fabrics and kill bacteria

  • Refrigerator

  • Microwave

  • Carpet stains

It’s important to keep in mind that vinegar should NOT be used to clean things such as:

  • Carpet odours – although it’s efficient against odours, it would only mask them and not remove them

  • Stone – vinegar is known to damage stone surfaces. It’s best to check your supplier’s guidelines in order to find the best cleaning product

  • Wax floors – the shine will gradually fade if you use vinegar

  • Hardwood floors – the finish will suffer if you use vinegar

Vinegar works so well because its acid kills bacteria and destroys mold and grease. You may be surprised to know how powerful this cleaning formula is–for that reason, when cleaning with vinegar, it should be diluted with water to a ratio of about 50-50.

TIP: To keep windows sparkling, use newspaper as a ‘rag’. The ink will actually add more shine. Try it!

Baking soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate to give it its official name, isn’t just a product used for baking and raising cakes; it’s  also one of the most useful natural cleaning products! You can use baking soda to clean pretty much anything, from bathroom sinks and kitchen counters. It even removes tea and coffee stains inside cups and coffee mugs.

Just like vinegar, baking soda should be avoided when cleaning certain surfaces such as glass, because it will easily get scratched with this abrasive cleaner.

Baking soda is also very effective in removing stains like coffee or blood from fabric. Simply blend with a few drops of water, and let sit for a few hours before rinsing out.

It’s also an easy way to remove odours. Put an open box in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh, and place a small dish of baking soda with a few drops of essential oils in the bathroom to remove unpleasant smells.

You can also sprinkle a bit on your carpet before Hoovering to remove nasty smells – it works like a dry shampoo to lift out grease, dirt and odours!

Baking_Soda

Lemon juice

This is my favourite method, mainly because of the fresh smell it leaves! Lemon juice doesn’t have the same cleaning power as vinegar or baking soda, but it’s still a great alternative to toxic cleaning products.

There are quite a few things you can clean with lemon juice, such as:

  • Refrigerators

  • Microwaves

  • Windows

  • Mirrors

  • Shower doors

  • Toilet bowls

  • Clothes

  • Fabrics

Although lemon juice is a brilliant natural disinfectant, you should still consider using other cleaning products on places that have been in contact with things such as raw meat. This will prevent you and your family from getting sick. Lemon juice removes stains on plastics efficiently and leaves a fresh smell.

Cooking oils

Here’s a tip from my grandma!

Cooking oils are perfect for wooden surfaces as it can ‘revive’ old wood that has been exposed to the sun. I would advise using cheap vegetable oils only for polishing wooden surfaces and leather shoes.

Just add a bit to a rag or cloth and rub it in–then watch it shine!

Olive-Oil

Borax

Borax is a natural white mineral and is mainly used in glass and ceramic production as an antiseptic. It can also be used for cleaning purposes.

Just like vinegar, Borax is very efficient in killing bacteria and inhibiting mold. You can use borax for cleaning things like:

  • Toilet bowls

  • Mirrors

  • Shower curtains

  • Windows

  • Kitchen appliances

  • Fabrics

Simply take 4-5 cups of warm water and add ½ Tbsp borax to it. Stir the solution so that the borax gets dissolved in the water properly. Dip a clean cloth or sponge in this solution, and wipe down almost anything!

However, take note: I wouldn’t use borax for waxed surfaces, as the shine might fade. Stone surfaces should also be avoided, as borax is known to cause corrosion.

natural cleaning products

Vinegar, baking soda, lemon, cooking oils and borax are popular and efficient natural cleaning products that won’t break the bank. You can try these methods yourself and see what you think. Let us know what your ‘green’ spring cleaning tips are in the comments section below!

Main image: mydecorative.com

Stephen Hibberd is an experienced writer with a business background and a contributor to the website Ideal Cleaning. He is passionate about creating useful content on living a healthy lifestyle.

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