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Everyone loves a clean, sparkling, fresh-smelling home. But when you look at your shiny bathtub after a good scrub, it's possible - depending on what type of cleaner you use - that you are inhaling harmful pollutants left over from that scrubbing agent. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have shown that levels of pollutants inside the home are easily two to five times higher than levels outdoors. Many home cleaning products greatly contribute to lowering air quality in the home. They can also leave compounds floating in the indoor air long after your cleaning spree has ended.

Conventional cleaning products containing harsh chemicals that can also be harmful to the environment. When you clean your kitchen sink and rinse that harsh solvent down the drain, where does it go? Choosing environmentally friendly alternatives not only keeps your home a healthy place for your family, but it also helps the earth.

Easy alternatives
Buying eco-friendly home cleaning products is one way to solve these problems. Another idea is to use kitchen items already in your cupboards for home cleaning. There are an astonishing number of simple, easy, and affordable ways that basic home ingredients like baking soda, lemon, vinegar, and essential oils can be used to clean, disinfect, and deodorize your home.

  • Baking soda. It's a natural cleanser, deodorizer, and scrubbing agent.
  • Liquid soap. Mix a concentrated, eco-friendly liquid soap with other ingredients to form homemade cleaners.
  • Vinegar. Use it to remove grease, wax, dirt, and mildew. White distilled vinegar is usually better because cider vinegar can stain some surfaces.
  • Isopropyl alcohol. Pour a little on a cotton ball or paper towel to disinfect doorknobs, telephones, countertops, or any other surface (aside from wood, which it dries out).
  • Essential oils. Tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender oils can all disinfect as well as add a pleasant smell to your homemade cleaners.
  • Lemon juice. A cleaning agent on its own, it can also add a nice, clean smell to your homemade cleaners.

The recipes

  • All-purpose mildly abrasive cleanser. Baking soda, liquid soap, and an essential oil of your choice - tea tree, eucalyptus, or lavender are a great team because of their disinfecting properties and combined scent. Use a generous amount of baking soda and mix in the liquid soap until you have a smooth paste like consistency. Add a few drops of the essential oil and scrub away at your bathtub, sink, or toilet. If mould or mildew is present pre-treat the area with hydrogen peroxide, and if there is grease use vinegar.
  • Non-toxic furniture polish. A combination of oil and vinegar works to extract dirt from furniture as well as moisturize and protect wood. Olive oil and jojoba oil are good choices, and white distilled vinegar is best because apple cider vinegar can stain. A ratio of 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar will work, and can be adjusted depending on the finish of the wood.
  • Chemical-free oven cleaner. Who wants to put a rough chemical solvent in the same oven in which they will later bake food? A great alternative to conventional oven cleaners is baking soda and water. Cover the bottom of the oven with baking soda and then spray with water. Leave the mixture overnight and then spoon it out in the morning. It's that simple! Add a little lemon to the water for a fresh scent.