Recent reports from the President’s Cancer Panel reveal that we are exposed to thousands of hazardous chemicals from the environment, but how safe are we inside our homes? If you use household cleaners, plastics, and other products, you are exposing yourself and your family everyday to toxins. Researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have created some general tips to keep a clean and healthy home. Here are some of their suggestions:
1. Dilute your cleaning supplies, and only use what is needed to get the job done.
2. Open the windows while you clean to avoid trapping polluted air inside.
3. Use gloves and other precautions to keep chemicals from penetrating the skin and eyes.
4. Keep children away from toxic chemicals, and let them clean with soap and water.
5. Avoid “antibacterial” products, which could be potentially toxic.
6. Never mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or other acids — together they produce deadly gas.
7. Buy certified green products that meet Green Seal or EcoLogo standards.
8. Try natural cleaning solutions, like vinegar and baking soda.
9. Do not use pine and citrus oil cleaners on smoggy days.
By following these tips, you will decrease the risk of toxic chemicals harming you and your family. For a list to keep in your home, view EWG’s printable version of these recommendations. Here are more specific ways you can avoid chemicals cleaning in each room of the house.
In the Kitchen
1. Avoid big hazards, such as oven cleaners and corrosive drain cleaners.
2. Microwave your sponge to kill germs.
3. Wash dishes, clean counters, and take out the trash frequently to keep germs from collecting.
4. Use non-stick cookware and avoid plastic containers to store food.
5. Check your tap water for local contaminants and use a filter.
In the Bathroom
1. Avoid big hazards, such as acidic toilet-bowl cleaners and corrosive drain cleaners.
2. Wash rags used to clean the toilet immediately and keep the scrub brush out of the way.
3. Wipe down showers after use to prevent mildew and mold.
4. Avoid air fresheners, which contain airborne contaminants.
5. Avoid vinyl shower curtains.
Floors and Furniture
1. Sweep and vacuum frequently to remove dust, which can harbor household toxins.
2. Use a microfiber mop to remove dust and dirt.
3. Dusk with a soft or microfiber cloth and avoid dusting sprays.
4. Don’t “protect” fabrics and carpets with spray-on chemical coatings—just clean spills promptly.
For recipes for natural and safe cleaning products, visit Care2’s Cleaning Recipes to making a non-toxic cleaning kit. For more tips on how to keep your home clean and non-toxic, visit the Environmental Working Group.