6 Replace hazardous chemicals at home with natural alternatives

Everyone loves a clean home — the smell of cleaning products and detergents is a key indicator of a sterile, tidy space. However, most chemical household cleaners contain toxins that are harmful to humans and the environment.

For example, a recent study found that scented commercial surface cleaners emit high levels of indoor organic aerosols (SOAs), also generated by cars. During cleaning, SOA concentrations may exceed outdoor air pollutant levels. People inhale 1 billion to 10 billion SOA nanoparticles per minute while mopping floors.

Meanwhile, highly toxic commercial cleaners cause serious damage to ecosystems as they flow down drains and into waterways.

Replacing harmful chemicals with green alternatives can better protect you and the environment by keeping your home sparkling clean.

6. Replace hazardous chemicals with natural alternatives

1. All-purpose cleaner

Studies have shown that 30% of commercial cleaning products contain endocrine-disrupting properties, such as galaxolide, which scientists have linked to thyroid dysfunction, reduced fertility and genetic damage in marine species.

Although SC Johnson began phasing out galaxolide from its products — Scream, Glade and Off! — In 2018, you might still want to use a DIY all-purpose cleaner to be safe.

Making your own all-purpose cleaner is easy enough. All you need to do is add distilled water, vinegar and a pleasant scent – ​​such as fresh herbs, citrus or essential oils – to a spray bottle.

However, it’s important to avoid spraying your granite and marble countertops with vinegar, as its acidity can destroy the sealant.

2. Furniture polish

You might think there’s nothing better than dusting with lemon-scented Old English furniture polish.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives it an F rating due to respiratory, allergen and cancer risks. Its components – petroleum gas, silicone fluid and kerosene – have serious effects on water resources and soil in the environment.

A much safer option is equal parts olive oil and vinegar in a jar – you can also add a few drops of essential oil for a fresh scent. Stir the ingredients and apply the mixture to the furniture with a dry, clean cloth.

3. Paint

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint or simply touching up scuffs and marks revitalizes the space. However, paint is a highly flammable liquid waste that negatively affects indoor air quality by emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene.

According to the American Lung Association, VOC inhalation can cause nausea, difficulty breathing, eye irritation and central nervous system damage.

Although many consider zero-VOC paints to be less effective, they work just as well as oil-based paints if your project is prepared properly. Major brands such as Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and Valspar carry VOC-free paint products.

Note that even zero-VOC paints may contain some VOCs, but they are at low-enough levels not to be a concern.

4. Glass cleaner

Commercial glass and surface cleaners commonly contain butyl cellosolve—a harmful solvent that can cause eye irritation, vomiting, headaches, and a metallic taste.

Although it is unknown what reproductive effects butyl cellosolve causes in humans, studies have shown that high concentrations can impair fertility and cause birth defects in animals.

Instead, use vinegar to clean windows and mirrors around the house. Vinegar is safe but highly acidic, with a low ph level that breaks down minerals and gives it stain-fighting power.

Alone, vinegar is an excellent natural cleaning solution for fragile surfaces—however, many people combine it with baking soda to easily lift tough dirt and grime. Avoid using vinegar on stones, computer or phone screens, or on ceramics. You should avoid mixing it with bleach, which can create lethal fumes.

5. Bleach

Bleach is a common, corrosive cleaning agent that can become highly toxic, causing respiratory problems and skin burns. It is also fatal to ecosystem health when it enters waterways.

Consider what you can clean with bleach around the house — clothes, sink drains, toilet bowls and dirty grout come to mind. A much safer alternative is baking soda, which along with vinegar will become your new favorite household cleaner.

Sprinkle baking soda and vinegar on the toilet and let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe and flush for a shiny, bright throne. Equal parts baking soda and vinegar can make unclogging sink drains easier.

Since you’re not supposed to use vinegar to clean countertops, you should combine baking soda with liquid castile soap, vegetable glycerin, and essential oils to create an effective cleaning solution.

6. air purifier

Plugging in an air freshener might seem like an innocuous way to clean up the room—or maybe you like to light a scented candle to make the space more beautiful.

Aromatic chemicals enhance VOC exposure, reducing indoor air quality by triggering ear, eye and throat irritation, migraines and nausea. A 2021 study also suggests that scented candles emit nitrogen dioxide concentrations that slightly exceed World Health Organization (WHO) safety standards.

While proper ventilation can significantly improve the risks, an essential oil diffuser will ensure the same results without the hazardous chemicals. Additionally, you can combine baking soda and coffee grounds in a small dish to help absorb bad odors from the air. Distilled water and essential oil drops can also make for a pleasant room spray option.

Clean your home safely with natural alternatives

Protect your family and the environment by replacing hazardous household cleaners with natural alternatives. Natural cleaning solutions will result in a cleaner home that you can be sure is a healthier home.

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