Greening My Home, One Step at a Time Ch.2

Another subject that can be tricky is household cleaning. How do we kill all those pesky germs and bacteria, without turning our homes into a toxic environment? Well the answer is, go natural. Before the 1940’s and 50’s (the start of the so called “chemical age”), people cleaned with simple ingredients like vinegar, lemons/limes, baking soda, etc. For fragrances things like essential oils (many of which are naturally antimicrobial, ie. lavender) were used. And then somehow, all that was lost, and we moved in the direction of chlorinated bleach and many other toxic chemicals to clean our homes.

I don’t know about you, but for me, cleaning in small space like a bathroom with chlorine bleach is not a very pleasant experience. My eyes water, nose runs, and my head starts to feel kind of like styrofoam (if you can picture that..), and if I’m not wearing gloves, my skin starts to feel like it is falling off my hands. Maybe I’m not doing it right or something (I’m being sarcastic here..), I would probably be fine if I was wearing a full body suite and respirator …but who wants to do all that?

The fact is “normal” houshold cleaners today contain toxic chemica
such as:Alkyl dimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride/hydroxide, Ammonia, Butyl cellusolve, Chlorine, Diethanolamine, Dipropylene glycol monobutyl/methyl ether, Ethylene glycol, Glycol ether, Hydrozyacetic acid, Monoethanolamine, Naptha, Nonylphenol polyethoxylate, Petroleum distallates, Phenols, Sodium hydroxide, Sodium hydroxide, Sodium hypochlorite, and Triethanolamine(thanks Renee Loux for this long and hard to spell list!).

Additionally, the majority of furniture polish, candles, and air fresheners are loaded down with unhealthy stuff like Formaldehyde and Phthalates.

Sounds super confusing right? Let me try to simplify a litte bit, most (if not all) of these chemicals are bad to come in contact with. A few here and there probably aren’t going to be a big deal, but the cumulative effect just can’t be good for us. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, do your own research and see what doctors and scientists have to say about each and every chemical listed above.

Now that the problem has been presented, here are some potential solutions. Make your own cleaners, but if that sounds too granola hippie for you, buy natural cleaners (that are already pre-mixed). Its super easy, and I’m pretty sure you and your family will actually prefer the change.

Personally, I removed all the toxic (and most of them smelly) cleaners from under our sinks and put them in the garage in a air tight plastic tub. Then I replaced them with these much greener alternatives:

Also included but not pictured was dishwashing liquid soap from Seventh Generation, and a number of essential oils I purchased for $5-$10 a piece. I felt like I was breathing easier immediately after! And, cleaning with these products, I’m lovin’ it! Everyone is different so find what works for you, and here are a few places to start.

*The borax can be harmful if ingested (and I mainly use it as an odor free pesticide, though I am currently experimenting with even less toxic alternatives), so store it in a safe place away from kids and pets.

Additional informative blogs:



Some good (pre-mixed) brands to try out (that you should be able to find at your local grocery store):


Or, try my friends at TX Green Clean (here in Austin) who mainly use steamers to clean and sanitize your home.

Doug Cameron

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