Happy Earth Day!
As I mentioned in Part I of my mini Green Cleaning Supplies series, the air inside our houses is many times more polluted than outdoor air, and according to the EPA, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.
If you (like me) live in a climate that forces you to stay inside with the windows closed a large part of the year, it is extra important to choose cleaning and household products that don’t add even more toxins to your home. (Check out my “10 Toxic Cleaning Product Ingredients And How They May Harm You” post for more info on which ingredients to avoid.)
Also, try to open a few windows for just 10 minutes a day (if it’s too cold to keep them open longer). Every little bit of fresh air helps.
In my last post, I talked about my favorite green cleaning product for kitchens and bathrooms. Today, it’s all about laundry, glass cleaning, and making your home smell fabulous without resorting to toxic plug-ins and air fresheners with synthetic fragrance.
First of all, if you read my previous post, you’re probably wondering if I’m working for Method. I am not, nor do they pay me to endorse their products in any way. I just happen to love them and think they work really well.
I’ve tried many of the “green” laundry detergents on the market – some were very disappointing, some I was allergic to. Then I found Method’s detergents and that was it. They work great, I am not allergic to them, and they’re non-toxic.
I can’t stand the smell of most scented dryer sheets, and while it seems like the jury is out on just how bad they are for you, I prefer to not use them. If the ingredients are indeed as toxic as some people say, then there is bound to be some of that left on your clothes, and consequently transferred to your skin. Also, many are made with animal fat which not only is gross; it leaves a residue both in your drier and on your clothes. We use Static Eliminator Re-Usable Dryer Sheets (they’re just woven fabric cloths) and they work great!
My dream, however, would be to not have to use the dryer, period. If I had any outdoor space (and lived in the country and not on a heavily trafficked city street) I would always be drying my laundry on a line outside. My Mom always did (we didn’t even have a drier), and everything smelled so fresh and was so crisp. Sleeping on sheets that have dried in the sun and wind is wonderful! I actually read that in some states, or areas, you are not allowed to hang laundry outside! What a messed-up world this is!
We have been using Ecover Floor Soap, which works fine and smells good, but what I would really like is a steam cleaner that works on both rugs and hardwood. Just using steam and no chemicals at all is the ideal solution in my opinion.
Windows & Mirrors
I use Seventh Generation’s Ruby Grapefruit & Herb Glass & Surface cleaner. It works great and smells really good too. I think the next time I buy one though, that I will get their Natural Glass & Surface cleaner, which has fewer ingredients and is totally unscented.
Many mainstream air fresheners and plug-ins and scented candles are packed with toxic ingredients such as VOCs, petroleum distillates and phthalates. There are other great ways to make your home smell good using natural products. Here is what we do:
When vacuuming, put a few drops of organic essential oil on a cotton ball and drop it into the bag of your vacuum. I use peppermint and tangerine, and it gives the whole house a wonderful, fresh smell. I also always vacuum with at least a few windows open, even in the midst of winter.
Candles can make the house smell wonderful, even when not lit, but make sure they’re not scented with synthetic fragrance oils. We love the beeswax candles from Big Dipper Wax Works and always keep one out in our living room. Everyone who walks in our front door always ask what smells so good. They make them in lots of scents (using essential oils, no synthetic fragrances whatsoever); our favorite is “Sensual” (palmarosa & geranium) which smells sort of vaguely “new agey”.
I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for cleaning your house in a less toxic way. If you want to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals even more, check out my favorite natural soaps and moisturizers as well as shampoo, deodorants, sunscreen, etc.