The everyday cleaning materials we can buy in supermarkets may look nice on the shelves, but most if not all of them are full of damaging chemical toxins. These toxins can be absorbed into the body in many ways – through ingestion, breathing, and even skin-contact. And in many cases the toxins remain in our bodies for very long periods of time, if not for all our lives. What are some of the effects of these toxins? Well, they can be too numerous to count. But they can include fatigue, illness, headaches, skin problems, overweight, stomach trouble, skin rashes, a lackluster wooden feeling in life, and even anxiety or depression. (By the way, the “medications” you can get for depression do not solve the problem but deepen it, and can even lead to violence or suicide. They are simply additional toxins being introduced into your body!) These toxins are not only harmful to your own physical or emotional well-being, but also to the planet and our atmosphere. The point of this post is not so much to go into the numerous effects of living in a toxic and chemical environment, but to give some simple alternatives and solutions which you can use to reduce the amount of harmful substances in your home or work environment, so as to live a cleaner life. Here are some basic non-toxic cleaning tips:
1. To Remove Smells
After thoroughly cleaning the area (thoroughly cleaning up anything that might be creating smells, such as rotten food, garbage, dirty, food cupboards, the cat litter, etc.) open windows/doors to air out the space well. Place a small dish (or more than one dish) around the space with some pure baking soda and cut up lemon. This should absorb the remaining smells. See also point 2 below on freshening the air, as well as point 6 below on freshening carpets.
2. To Freshen Air
Place several drops of lavender, rose, peppermint, or other essential oil in a pot of water and simmer on the stove for several hours. You can also squeeze essential oil into the cardboard roll that holds your toilet paper in the bathroom. (This is a much better idea than using toxic chemical air-fresheners!) Repeat this each time you hang a new roll of toilet paper.
3. To Clean Surfaces
Tea tree oil and lavender oil have anti-bacterial properties. Mix a few drops with water and spray to clean counter-tops and surfaces in kitchen, bathroom, etc. For tougher jobs, use about 50 drops per bucket of water.
4. To Remove Mildew
Pure grain alcohol (like Everclear) is the best mildew killer. Use it to scrub off the mildew, and/or let it sit and soak if needed. You can also use vodka, which is grain alcohol mixed with more water.
5. To Clean Floors
Try mixing 15 drops of orange essential oil, 8 drops of lemon essential oil, 1 gallon of hot water, and 2 tablespoons of non-toxic liquid soap. This will leave the room smelling good and should also clean quite well.
6. To Freshen Carpets
Try the following recipe: 4 cups of baking soda or cornstarch 25 drops essential rosewood oil 35 drops eucalyptus oil 30 drops lavender oil. Mix together in a bowl and stir until the clumps of soda or starch have broken apart. Pour into a jar, close tightly, and shake. Sprinkle this mixture on carpets about 15 minutes before you vacuum.
7. For Laundry
You can make home-made dryer sheets by placing several drops of essential oil (such as rose, lavender, etc.) on a towel, and put the towel in the dryer with the rest of your clothes while drying.
8. To Disinfect
Isopropyl alcohol and bleach are both extremely toxic. They kill bacteria, but they can kill people as well. Isopropyl alcohol has been found by some studies to be a prime cause of cancer. Chlorine gas was used for chemical warfare during Word War I. (If you have heard of the deadly effect of mixing bleach with ammonia – that’s chlorine gas). A non-toxic alternative is pure grain alcohol. This can be used in either a pure or a diluted form. Use this to clean areas where ill people have been, to clean light switches and faucets that are often touched, etc.
A Note on Essential Oils:
Keep essential oils away from your eyes and be careful not to get them on your hands and then rub your eyes. Also make sure to keep them out of reach of children or animals who might ingest them. Small quantities of essential oils are sometimes ingested as part of natural home remedies, but too much can make a person quite ill. And you don’t want to get them in your eyes, no matter how non-toxic they are. Ouch!