"Look - it's a bird, it's a plane ... no,
A syndicated eco-advice
Written by Patricia Dines
eco-hero in everyone!"
"Making it easy to be
Keeping It Clean:
Less-Toxic Cleansers for a Healthier
** COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. AVAILABLE FOR
SYNDICATION, CUSTOMIZATION & REPRINT! **
Keeping It Clean: Less-Toxic
Cleansers for a Healthier Home
- Published in the West County Gazette
September 13, 2007
(c) Patricia Dines, 2007. All rights reserved.
- Dear EcoGirl: I'm concerned about the toxics in
mainstream cleansers. Are there less-toxic alternatives that can
do the job but aren't too expensive? Signed, Curious in
- Dear Curious: You're right to be concerned. Many common
household cleaners do contain toxics, including ammonia and
chlorine, which can cause health problems for your family and
pets, both through daily use and accidental poisonings. Some of
the warning labels are downright scary!
- Luckily, you can keep your house clean and healthy using
less-toxic materials. In fact, you can do most of your
cleaning with just vinegar, liquid soap, baking
soda, and Bon Ami powder. Doesn't that make your
supply cabinet lighter! Using these ingredients also reduces
packaging waste, keeps your home smelling great - and, yes, saves
- For instance, you can:
- * Clean your bathroom and kitchen surfaces by combining
a natural biodegradable liquid soap with water in a spray
container. Shake, then clean as usual with a sponge or cloth. For
more disinfecting power, add some vinegar to the mix. For more
scrubbing action, shake baking soda or Bon Ami onto your sponge.
You can also use Bon Ami powder separately to clean porcelain,
avoiding the chlorine found in other powder brands.
- * Wash your windows and mirrors by mixing 1/4 cup
vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap in a
spray bottle. Shake, spray, then dry with a towel or (recycled)
paper towel. The soap helps it dry a bit faster and better.
- * Deodorize your carpets by scattering baking soda,
waiting an hour, then vacuuming.
- * Clean your drain by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda
then 3 cups boiling water. For more of a "kick," pour in 1/2 cup
baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar, then cover the drain. This creates a
mini-explosion - a fun science experiment for kids of any age.
After 15 minutes, rinse with hot water.
- * Bring a beautiful scent to any homemade cleanser by
adding a few drops of a natural essential oil, such as lavender,
peppermint, lemon, or eucalyptus. You'll enjoy cleaning more, and
leave a healthy aroma as you go.
- There are an amazing number of cleaning solutions using
simple, inexpensive ingredients. We'll continue covering them in
future columns, so please send us your questions and success
- Note: When buying liquid soap and other "green" cleaning
products at the store, be sure to read the labels carefully,
especially if you're not at a health food store. Many wonderful
less-toxic and environmentally-safe products are available, but
some companies are jumping on the bandwagon with vague or
exaggerated claims. If a product call itself "green," does the
label describe what specifically makes it so? Just adding an herb
or two isn't enough. Does the label list the product's
ingredients? The truly healthy ones will. Also consider if any
warning statements suggest that there are harmful ingredients
- Through these easy steps, you can create a healthier home -
- Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The
Organic Guide to Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, and
Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter, which
gently educates readers about toxics and alternatives.
Have questions about going green? Email them to <ecogirl
[at] healthyworld.org> with "EcoGirl" in the subject line.
We will let you know if we cover your topic in future columns. Also
contact EcoGirl for information about carrying this syndicated column
in your periodical.
- (c) Patricia Dines, 2007. All rights reserved.
- COLUMN SOURCES: Nontoxic, Natural, & Earthwise, by
Debra Lynn Dadd. The Green Kitchen Handbook and Clean & Green,
by Annie Berthold-Bond. Toxics A to Z, by John Harte, et al.
For more information on related eco-topics, see my other
This entire website is (c) Patricia
Dines, 1998-2009. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 09/24/07