Connecting Environment, Economy, and Community

Green Cleaning

Green Cleaning

Green cleaning suppliesAs a society, why should we choose non-toxic, biodegradable products? Because the majority of cleaning products used in American homes can cause indoor air quality problems, possible chemical burns, health problems from absorption or ingestion, and even certain diseases. Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease are caused primarily by environmental influences, such as exposure to toxins found in cleaning solutions.


In addition, bioaccumulation studies have shown that some toxins store in our bodies for life. Greater amounts are being stored at younger ages and diseases that used to develop later in life are now appearing in children and teenagers.


For example:

  • There has been a 28% increase in childhood cancer since the addition of pesticides into household products (Source: National Cancer Institute)
  • Over 150 chemicals found in the average home have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities (Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission)
  • In one market research project conducted over 15 years showed that work-at-home women had 54% higher death rate than women who work away from home. The research concluded that the higher death rate was due to the daily exposure to toxic chemicals found in normal household products (Source: The Noble Press, 1991, The National Cancer Association)
  • Most homes have airborne concentrations of hazardous and toxic chemicals that are 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors (Source: Environmental Protection Agency’s Report to Congress on Indoor Air Quality Act of 1989)
  • Each year 5-10 million household poisonings are reported (the immediate result of accidental ingestion of common household products) many of which are fatal with most of the victim’s children (Source: The Nontoxic Home and Office)

So why haven’t consumers been made aware of the detrimental effects these products pose on our health and environment? It is because there are currently no requirements of manufacturers to actually disclose what is in a product, and there is no regulation or enforcement. Essentially, disclosing the ingredients falls under proprietary trade secret legislation. There are “right-to-know” laws; however, they only cover the workforce. If you felt a manufacturer wasn’t being truthful and wanted to take action, if you are not an employee, you would have to file a civil lawsuit for “false advertising”. Labeling laws do not protect the consumer – they protect BIG business. Choose to purchase products from companies that are respected and that disclose all product information and ingredients.


Alternative Remedies

  • All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix one quart warm water, one teaspoon liquid soap, one teaspoon borax and one-fourth cup undiluted white vinegar and store in a spray bottle. Use for cleaning countertops, floors, walls, carpets and upholstery.
  • Scouring Cleansers: Sprinkle baking soda, or mix baking soda with water, and scrub with a wet sponge. If the baking soda leaves a residue, rinse with cold water and vinegar. Dry with a cloth.
  • Glass Cleaner: Mix one quart warm water with one-fourth cup white vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice and store in a spray bottle.
  • Mildew Removers: Scrub mildew spots with one-half cup borax mixed with one gallon water. To prevent mold or mildew from forming, don’t rinse off the borax. If you have major problems, the best solution is heat. Applying heat to an area will kill mold and mildew.
  • Degreaser: Mix one-half teaspoon washing soda (sodium carbonate, soda ash or sal soda), two tablespoons white vinegar, one-fourth teaspoon liquid soap and two cups hot water.
  • Bathroom: Clean sink, shower, tub and tile with diluted liquid soap and scrub with a nylon scrubbing pad. Use a stiff toothbrush or scrub brush for tiles.
  • Toilet Bowls: Put one-fourth cup borax in toilet bowl and let sit for a few hours or overnight. Then scrub. A few drops of pine oil can be added for increased disinfecting.
  • Tub and Tiles: Scrub surfaces with baking soda slightly moistened with water.
  • Fabric Stain Remover: Mix one part glycerin and one part liquid dish washing detergent to eight parts water. Apply to stain as soon as possible and blot with cloth. Store in a squeeze bottle. Alternately, soak fabric in one-fourth cup borax and two cups cold water.
  • Upholstery Cleaner: Mix one-fourth cup liquid soap with three tablespoons water. Rub foam into upholstery with a cotton cloth and then rinse with a clean sponge.
  • Fruit and Wine: Immediately blot stain with a towel and add cold water, continuing to blot.
  • Grease: Pour boiling water on stains and follow with dry baking soda.
  • Blood: Soak in cold water or remove with hydrogen peroxide. For more stubborn stains, apply a paste of cornstarch, corn meal or talcum powder. Allow to dry and then brush away.
  • Rust: Saturate with lemon juice and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.
  • Mildew: Pour soap and salt on spots and place in sunlight. Keep moist and repeat as often as necessary.
  • Perspiration odor: Add one cup vinegar or baking soda per wash load.
  • Oven Cleaner: Mix one quart warm water, two teaspoons borax and two tablespoons liquid soap. Spray on solution, wait 20 minutes, and then clean. To remove spots, use very fine steel wool. A wet cleaning pumice bar can be used to remove the toughest spots.
  • Drains: Pour 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by two ounces of vinegar. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with two quarts of boiling water. Use this treatment regularly to prevent clogged drains. Prevention: put a strainer or filter in all drains and never pour any type of grease down your drains.
  • Silver Polish: Rub object gently with toothpaste (or a baking soda and water paste) on a soft cloth to avoid scratching. Rinse well with water.
  • Copper Polish: Pour vinegar or lemon juice and salt over copper and rub. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • Brass Polish: Polish with Worcestershire sauce or pour on ketchup, let sit, and then wipe dry.
  • Chrome Polish: Shine wet chrome fixtures by rubbing with newspaper or rub with baby oil and a soft cloth.
  • Stainless Steel Polish: Clean and polish with a baking soda and water paste.
  • Furniture Polish: Use almond, walnut or olive oil on unvarnished wood. Use a mild vegetable oil soap on varnished woods. To remove watermarks from wood furniture rub toothpaste on spot and polish with a soft cloth.
  • Crayon Marks: Rub mark with toothpaste and a damp cloth. Do not use on non-vinyl wallpaper.
  • Vinyl Floors: Mix one gallon water with one-half cup white vinegar or one-fourth cup borax. Remove scuff marks with toothpaste.
  • Unvarnished Wood Floors: Use a damp mop with mild vegetable oil soap.
  • Carpet Odors: Sprinkle entire carpet with baking soda. Let sit 15 minutes, or overnight for serious odors, then vacuum.
  • Air Fresheners: Pour vanilla extract on a cotton ball in a saucer. Set out a dish of vinegar, or boil one tablespoon white vinegar in one cup of water to eliminate cooking odors. Cover the bottom of your cat’s litter box with baking soda before adding litter. Use baking soda in refrigerators, closets and other enclosed areas to absorb odors.
  • Grease and Oil Spills on Concrete: Sprinkle cornmeal, sawdust or cat litter, allow to sit for several hours then sweep up.
  • Fleas on Pets: Add one-half tablespoon Brewer’s yeast or garlic powder to pet food
  • Flies: Beat one egg yolk with one tablespoon each of molasses and fine ground black pepper. Place in shallow dish.
  • Roaches: Sprinkle boric acid on areas where roaches move. Caution: Boric acid is safer than many pesticides, but can be toxic. Keep out of the reach of children.
  • White flies, aphids and red spiders: Mix two or three bulbs of garlic, chopped with one tablespoon vegetable oil, one-fourth cup soap flakes and two cups boiling water. Strain mixture, add to two gallons of water and spray on plants.
  • Slugs and snails: Pour beer in saucer where creatures travel, sprinkle salt on them, leave grapefruit or orange skins overnight, or sprinkle ashes around bases of plants.
  • Mice: Place mashed potato powder near dish of water.
  • Wasps: Spray with non-aerosol hair spray.
  • Ants: Sprinkle Borax around anthills.
  • Moths: Clean clothes and furniture thoroughly and store clothes in air tight containers. Use cedar chips or a cedar chest to repel moths.