Archive for the ‘Natural Cleaning Products’ Category

Naturally cleaning your air

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Canned or plug-in air fresheners are chock full of toxins and chemicals. Here are a few natural alternatives you might want to consider.

  • Plants which reduce toxic materials are: Aloe Vera, English ivy, fig trees, chrysanthemum, spider plants, Chinese evergreen, bamboo palm, and lily. Decorate liberally with these plants and they’ll act as a natural air purifier.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of natural (not imitation) vanilla extract in a ceramic bowl and place it in a room. If the room is large you may want to use more than one. As the vanilla evaporates, a light, refreshing vanilla scent will waft into the surrounding air. Replace every day.
  • If you have a diffuser, you can put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in it and freshen the air for hours. If you don’t actually own a diffuser, you can simply use an old saucepan, with a little water in the bottom on low heat. But be careful it does not boil dry.
  • As far as freshening your air, white vinegar is a natural deodoriser, especially for pet odours. It absorbs odours instead of covering them up.

Go Green as you Clean

Friday, June 1st, 2007
  • Respect the environment while you cleanMake the most of opportunities to recycle by cutting up old shirts to make dusters and cleaning cloths so you don’t need to buy synthetic ones.
  • Mix one cup of salt, one cup of baking soda and quarter cup of cream of tartar to make an effective natural drain cleaner that won’t harm the environment.
  • Do less ironing! If you hang them up to dry as soon as they’re washed, sheets, table cloths and pyjamas don’t need to be pressed.
  • Always make sure the filter on your tumble dryer is clean as this will use less energy, and sort fabrics by type when drying. Lighter synthetics will need less time than heavy cottons, saving power. Better still, hang items on the washing line outside.
  • Bicarbonate of soda is a great surface cleaner and shifts stubborn odours; simply sprinkle a little on a damp cloth. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant which is brilliant at cutting through greasy residues, and can be combined with lemon juice for a lovely citrus smell. Fragrant essential oils such as lavender and clove are natural antiseptics and good at clearing moulds and fungi in the bathroom. Natural beeswax and olive oil are excellent furniture cleaners. However, if time is tight there are a range of natural cleaning products that can help you beat the dirt.

How toxic is your home? 10 ways to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in your home and save money

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

10 ways to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals in our homes and save moneyWe like to think of our homes as being a safe place to be, a refuge from a dangerous world. Yet some of the exposures that you have day-to-day that are most hazardous to your health and the health of your family happen right at home.

Studies into pollution levels have found our homes have up to 50 per cent higher concentrations of toxic chemicals than outside. The good news is that for every toxic product you’ll find in your home, there is a safer alternative. You just need to know where to look for those toxic exposures and what safe solutions are available.

Here are ten common toxic exposures most of us have in our homes, and some simple, inexpensive things everyone can do to reduce household toxins.

  1. Save yourself from exposure to toxic ammonia by washing your windows with vinegar and water. Ammonia can cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, and burn your skin. Instead, mix distilled white or apple cider vinegar half-and-half with water in a spray bottle. Squirt on windows and wipe with newspapers for a streak-free super shine.
  2. Furniture polish and carpet cleaners can contain carcinogens which can increase the risk of poor health and liver and kidney damage. A dab of vinegar on a damp cloth is great for unvarnished wood and when it comes to carpets regular steam cleaning is best as it kills dust mites and bacteria. Make your own deodoriser using a couple of drops of essential oil with baking soda. Sprinkle on carpet, leave for 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  3. Put up a detector to protect your family from carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide starves the body and brain of oxygen and can be fatal. First symptoms include sleepiness, headache, dizziness, flushed skin, and disorientation. All homes with gas appliances or heaters should install carbon monoxide detectors, available in most hardware and DIY stores or online.
  4. Bathroom cleaning sprays produce a fine mist of chemicals that are easily inhaled and can trigger breathing problems. Instead try using two parts water with one part vinegar. And instead of chemical rich floor cleaning products use one cup of vinegar added to a bucket of hot water.
  5. Use soap-based or non biological cleaning products instead of poisonous detergents. While detergents seem safe, they are a petrochemical-based product that is responsible for more household poisonings than any other substance. Soap, on the other hand, is made from natural oils and minerals and has been safely used for centuries. Natural and organic soap-based products can be found in health food shops and online.
  6. Are your water bottles toxic?Refill your own non-plastic water bottle instead of using toxic plastic water bottles. While it’s good for your health to carry your own water and drink it throughout the day, if it’s in a clear polycarbonate plastic bottle, it can be leaching a toxic substance into your water – even if the bottle is sitting on table at room temperature. Bisphenol-A. BPA is a potent hormone disruptor that can impair the reproductive organs and have adverse effects on breast tissue and prostate development. Drink from a glass bottle wherever possible.
  7. Avoid toxic pesticides by getting a vegetable box deliveredAvoid toxic pesticides by making dinner using fresh, organically-grown produce. Buy pesticide-free organically grown food either from the supermarket or you can have a box delivered each week with produce grown by local farmers. One taste and you’ll go back for more. A great variety of organically-grown food can also be ordered online.
  8. Wash away petrochemical perfumes and take a botanical bath. Many commercial bath products contain detergents and artificial fragrances that can be irritating to sensitive areas. You can have a luxurious relaxing bath by adding natural substances to warm bathwater, such as aromatherapy oils like lavender, rose, ylang-ylang etc. Use natural soaps available in health food stores and online.
  9. Toilet cleaners often contain harsh detergents that are easily absorbed through the skin, causing nausea and irritation of the eye, skin and throat. Many also contain phenol, a suspected cancer-causing agent. Use natural cleaning products for the home available from your local health food shop.
  10. Most air fresheners do no such thing. They work by using nerve deadening agents to stop you detecting smells. They are also one of the most concentrated sources of poison in the home and studies have shown that people who use them have more headaches and skin allergies. You can make your own by adding 10 drops of essential oil to a 200g box of baking soda and placing in a dish. You can also clear the air with a couple of houseplants. In addition to being beautiful to look at, houseplants also freshen the air by absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale and releasing the oxygen that is vital for us to breathe. Some plants, such as the popular spider plant, also remove some air pollutants.