I got an email from the Environmental Working Group about the hazards of conventional cleaners used in schools and safe cleaning tips for the home to keep your family safe.
I haven't used conventional cleaners for a long time now. I use environmentally friendly dish and laundry soap in bottles that I refill at my local enviro-store. For everything else I use vinegar, baking soda and sometimes salt and earlier this spring I wrote a post in praise of the best cleaning product of all, water.
Which is why I take issue with the first few tips the EWG offers. They recommend diluting conventional cleaning products, using small amounts, opening windows, using protective gloves and keeping kids away from chemicals. (How are you supposed to put the little buggers to work, if you have to keep them away from their cleaning chores? ;) )
Well, how about not using the products in the first place? Really. It isn't until step 8 that they encourage people to 'experiment' with vinegar and baking soda. News flash: baking soda and vinegar is a time-tested, tried and true way to clean your home. Honestly people. You don't need chemical cleaners. You don't. You really, really don't.
Here's a story: My upstairs neighbours were hosting a lot of people for a dinner and were cooking two lambs. One lamb went into their oven and they borrowed my oven for the other. We both ended up with a really thick and blackened layer of lamb juice baked onto the bottom of our ovens. My upstairs neighbour used a conventional oven cleaner. The whole house, their place and mine, reeked of harsh, toxic, chemical nastiness that burned my eyes and made my lungs hurt. All the windows were opened, in the middle of winter and we froze. The damn cleaner didn't even do that great of a job and apparently it was a real bitch to clean.
I opened my oven, dumped baking soda onto the mess, poured vinegar over that, watched it fizz for a bit and then closed the door and walked away from the whole thing, not quite ready to deal with it yet. I came back to it the next day and took a spatula to the baking soda covered, petrified lamb juice and resigned myself to a difficult chore. Lo! Everything lifted off as easily as can be, I piled the scrapings onto a couple of sheets of newspaper and wiped the oven down with a damp cloth. My oven sparkled and the remains of my cleaning job went into the compost. True story.
We don't need nasty, chemical cleaners in our lives, in our bodies, in our environment and in our water. Heck, for most things we don't even need fancy, expensive, 'green' products either.
Look, I don't mean to be a Prescriptive Polly here, but getting rid of chemical cleaners is one of the easiest things a person can do. It's better for the environment, it's better for everyone's health and it saves a lot money. It's kind of a no brainer don't you think?
So what about you? Am I just preaching to the converted here or do you still use conventional cleaners for some things? Most things? I'll tell you what, if you promise to stop, I'll come and clean your house for you!
Chemical free resources:
Get the kids involved
A little rusty?
Give the gift of greener clean.
More green clean
Still more and and more green cleaning