How to find and use safe alternative to toxic chemicals for household cleaning chores.
These substitutes are easily available, inexpensive and effective for kitchen, bath, and household cleaning. By adopting these suggestions, you can help stop home generated water and soil pollution cycle at your doorstep and drain.
If you pour chlorine bleach into a fish tank, the fish will die. It's that simple. Many chemicals used in cleaning products are poisenous and toxic. The acculumlating affects of a million people in Hawaii using household and industrial cleaning supplies directly contaminates Hawaii's streams and reefs. "When you live on an island, it all ends up in the water table or the ocean eventually. It's not rocket science to see what happens to the ocean water after a big rain. It all flows downhill." says Katherine Fisher, co-founder of Hawaii Health Guide.com
By increasing awareness of the effects of our actions and understanding there are cleaning alternatives that are easy to use and inexpensive we can easily change our cleaning habits to include practices that are gentle on our islands and oceans.
In addition to being gentle on the environment while using them, cleaning supplies that dilute and create only the quantity you need are easier on landfills and trash disposal methods.
Landfills and urban areas are being damaged by the accumulating toxic chemicals used in common daily cleaning products. In addition to affecting aquatic birds, ocean life, household pets and other animals, Hawaii's children are vulnerable to the health aconsequences of being exposed to toxic substances found in common household cleaning supplies.
Most home cleaning chores can be easily managed by a handful of inexpensive and non toxic or low impact products. Understanding how they work and how different ingredients should be combined to get the cleaning power needed for a specific job can be helpul in successfully making the transistion to non-toxic cleaning.
Keeping unecessary plastic, aerosol cans and corosive chemicals out of the water and land is another reason to adopt low-impact cleaning.
Easy to make all-purpose cleaning kit.
Here are a list of the basic supplies available at any hardware and grocery store:
Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda can soften hard water and makes a relaxing bath time soak; it can be used as an underarm deodorant and as a toothpaste, too. Baking Soda should be #1 in your non-toxic cleaning kit. Bakin Soda has a number of useful properties. It can neutralize acid, scrub shiny materials without scratching, deodorize, and extinguish grease fires. It can be used as a deodorizer in the refrigerator, on smelly carpets, on upholstery and on vinyl. It can help deodorize drains. It can clean and polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, and tin. It also softens fabrics and removes certain stains.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, soluble in water. Borax can deodorize, inhibit the growth of mildew and mold in Hawaii, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains, and can be used with attractants such as sugar to kill cockroaches.
Cornstarch, derived from corn, can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs, and starch clothes.
Isopropyl Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant with anti-bacterial properties.
Lemon Juice is a deodorant and can be used to clean glass and remove stains from aluminum, clothes, and porcelain. Its active ingredient is citric acid. It is a mild lightener or bleach if used with sunlight.
Mineral Oil, derived from different types of natural seeds, is used for furniture polish and floor waxing
Soap (NOT detergent) is made in several ways. Castle soap can beuse d as a shampoo or as a body soap. Olive-oil based soap is gentlest to the skin. We recommend miracle soap or Dr. Bronhers without articficial color or scent Steel Wool is a handy thing to keep under the sink, or in the garage. The fibers are strong enough to remove rust and stubborn food residues and even to clean barbeque grills.
TSP is trisodium phosphate, a powdered mixture of soda ash and phosphoric acid. TSP doesn't create noxious fumes but TSP is toxic if swallowed. TSP but it can be used on many jobs, such as cleaning drains or removing old paint, that would normally require much more caustic and poisonous chemicals.
Vinegar is a mild acid made from natural soureces such as apple juice, grain, or wine. Vinegar is useful for killing mold and can also can dissolve mineral deposits, grease, remove traces of soap, or wax buildup, polish some metals, and deodorize. Vinegar can clean brick or stone, and is an ingredient in some natural carpet cleaning recipes. Use vinegar to clean out the metallic taste in coffeepots and to shine windows without streaking. Vinegar is normally used in a solution with water, but it can be used straight.
Washing Soda or SAL Soda is a sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. It can cut stubborn grease on grills, broiler pans, and ovens. It can be used with soda instead of laundry detergent, and it softens hard water. Washing Soda is available from drug and chemical-supply stores.
Nontoxic strategies for common household tasks:
Freshen air by opening windows and doors for a short period; distribute partially filled dishes of vinegar around the kitchen to combat unpleasant cooking odors; boil cinnamon and cloves in a pan of water to scent the air; sprinkle 1/2 cup borax in the bottom of garbage pails or diaper pails to inhibit mold and bacteria growth that can cause odors; rub vinegar on hands before and after slicing onions to remove the smell; use essential oils and diffusers or fresh flowers or indoor herbs to give inside air a pleasant scent.
All-purpose cleaner can be made from a vinegar-and-salt mixture or from 4 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in 1 quart warm water.
Disinfectant means anything that will reduce the number of harmful bacteria on a surface. Practically no surface treatment will completely eliminate bacteria. Try regular cleaning with soap and hot water. Or mix 1/2 cup borax into 1 gallon of hot water to disinfect and deodorize. Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent disinfectant, but use will cause dryness around cuticles and sting cuts, so wear gloves and keep it away from children.
Drain cleaner. Be sure to use the plunger first, before using any commercial drain opener. To open clogs, pour 1/2 cup baking soda down drain, add 1/2 cup white vinegar, and cover the drain. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into the soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. Be careful, do not mix these ingredients with the chemicals in a commercial drain opener--the vinegar can combine and cause a reaction with the drain opener to create dangerous fumes.
Floor cleaner and polish can be as simple as a few drops of vinegar in the cleaning water to remove soap traces. For vinyl or linoleum, add a capful of baby oil to the water to preserve and polish. For wood floors, apply a thin coat of 1:1 oil and vinegar and rub in well. For painted wooden floors, mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon hot water. For brick and stone tiles, use 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon water and rinse with clear water and a brush.
Metal cleaners and polishes are different for each metal -- just as in commercial cleaners. A reminder that you should not be using aluminum for cooking as the reaction of cooking causes leaching. Aluminum has long lasting health effects on neuro tissue and has been implicated in Alzheimers disease! Brass may be polished with a soft cloth dipped in lemon-and baking-soda solution, or vinegar- and-salt solution. Polish chrome with baby oil, vinegar, or aluminum foil shiny slide out. Clean tarnished copper by boiling the article in a pot of water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup white vinegar, or try differing mixtures of salt, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, andcre am of tartar. Gold is easily cleaned with toothpaste. Pewter with a paste of salt, vinegar, and flour. Silver can be polished by boiling it in a pan lined with aluminum foil and filled with water to which a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt have been added. Stainless steel can be cleaned with undiluted white vinegar.
Oven cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda on moist surface and scrub with steel wool. Or use Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner, declared nontoxic by Consumers Union.
Scouring powder can be made from baking soda or dry table salt. Or try Bon-Ami Cleaning Powder or Bon-Ami Polishing Cleaner.
Toilet bowl cleaner can be made from straight bleach (do NOT mix with any other substance except water), baking soda and vinegar, or borax and lemon juice.
Bleach is not a non toxic substance, but is highly effective against mold and fungus, mildew and bacteria and can be dluted. Use spareingly . Be careful of contacting bleach with skin or eyes. Tub and tile cleaner can be as easy as rubbing in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinsing, or wiping with vinegar first and following with baking soda as a scouring powder.
Window and glass cleaner is easy with these tips: to avoid streaks, don't wash windows when the sun is shining. Use a vinegar-and-water solution, cornstarch-vinegar-and-water solution, or lemon-juice-and-water or a few drops of Lemon Joy dishwashing detergent. Wipe with newspaper unless you are sensitive to the inks in newsprint.
Safe Substitutes for Laundry Products
Detergent is specially adapted to clean synthetic fabrics, and it has the added advantage of not leaving soil residues even in hard water. However, detergents are generally derived from petrochemicals, and many people have skin sensitivities to these compounds may find it hard to tolerate detergents or the fragrances they are scented with. In addition, most detergents contain phosphates, which build up in streams and lakes and upset the natural Ph balance in waterways, causing blooms of algae which deplete the dissolved oxygen fish need to live. Some detergent may even contain naphthalene or phenol, both hazardous substances.
If you live within drainage distance to running water or the ocean in Hawaii, DO NOT USE PHOSPHATE detergent. There are many options that get your clothes clean including clothing laundry balls that are resuable. An effective alternative to using detergents is to return to soap. Soap is an effective cleaner for natural fabrics, leaving such items as diapers softer than detergent can. For cotton and linen, use soap to soften water. A cup of vinegar added to the wash can help keep colors bright (but DO NOT use vinegar if you are using bleach -- the resulting fumes are hazardous). One-half to three-quarters of a cup of baking soda will leave clothes soft and fresh smelling. Silks and wools may be hand washed with mild soap or a protein shampoo, down or feathers with mild soap or baking soda.
For synthetic fabrics or blends (including most no-iron fabrics), there are biodegradable detergents on the market that do not contain phosphates, fragrances, or harsh chemicals. They are often imported from Europe and are available at health food stores or by mail order.
Safe Substitutes for Personal Hygiene and Cosmetic Products
Cosmetics and hygiene products are used for a few reasons; to keep skin moist and supple; to clean hair without stripping it of natural oils; to eliminate unpleasant body or mouth orders; to prevent skin oiliness and clogged skin pores; and simply for the pleasure of relaxing and pampering ourselves with body-care or facial-care treatments. The following ingredients can help achieve these purposes without the use of toxic additives, synthetic fragrances, or artificial colorings:
Moisturizers and conditioners: egg yolk, milk, yogurt, safflower oil (for light moisturizing), olive oil (for dry skin or hair), water, oatmeal, jojoba oil.
Astringents/after shaves: witch hazel, diluted isopropyl alcohol.
Deodorants: baking soda, white clay, deodorant crystals.
Toothpastes: baking soda, salt.
Soaps cleansing agents: castle soap, olive-oil based soap.
Perfumes: essential oils provide nontoxic fragrances that can be used to scent shampoo, bath soaks, or even, in the case of peppermint, to flavor toothpaste.
Although it's easy and often more thrifty to make healthful alternatives to many cosmetic and hygiene products, any natural-foods store has a fairly wide selection of shampoos, moisturizers, toothpastes, after shaves, soaps, and bath products that do not contain the harmful ingredients in many commercial preparations.