If you are the type of person who likes to keep your home clean for your health and for the health of your family, you are probably using cleaning products. The problem with them is that while you are cleaning your home, you are harming the air quality in it.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Cleaning supplies contain volatile organic compounds, which are gases that may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. VOCs are consistently at higher levels inside than they are outside. Exposure to cleaning products or any other type of product that contains VOCs, such as pesticides, paints and building materials, can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. You may also get headaches, dizziness and nausea. VOCs can also cause liver, kidney, central nervous system damage or even cancer.
Green Cleaning Products
You can take steps to reduce your exposure to VOCs. The first step for green cleaning is to open your windows to air out your home. You will also want to use green cleaning products. You have to read the label on any product you buy if you are concerned about chemicals. Just because a product claims to be natural, doesn’t mean it is, according to the Grist website. Other meaningless words are “nontoxic,” “eco-safe” and “environmentally friendly.”
How to Read Labels
What you should look for on product labels are eco-friendly ingredients. Look for grain alcohol as a solvent instead of butyl cellosolve. Buy products with coconut or plant oils in detergents, instead of petroleum. You will want disinfectants with eucalyptus, sage or rosemary instead of triclosan, according to the Grist website.
Make Your Own
You can also make your own green cleaning supplies, according to the Circle of Life website. For an all-purpose cleaner, mix 1 quart warm water, 1 tsp. liquid soap, 1 tsp. borax and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Put the mixture in a spray bottle for use on counter tops, floors, walls, furniture and carpets. For glass cleaner, mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. If this is too much vinegar for you, you can cut the vinegar down to 1/4 cup with 2 tbsp. lemon juice.
Other environmentally safe products are baking soda, washing soda, isopropyl alcohol and cornstarch. Besides making your own all-purpose and window cleaner, you can mix green products to clean bathroom mold, on carpet stains, as a fabric softener, as a drain cleaner, to polish furniture, as a laundry detergent and to clean your toilets. The most toxic commercial home cleaning products are drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners, according to the Eartheasy website.
- green spray bottle image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com