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Monday, January 25, 2010

Chemically Speaking Part 3: Greening Your Clean

So, as a continuation of the chemicals topic (in addition to making beauty products less harmful and eating a more organic diet), this post has all the information I have collected from a variety of sources on helping you to use/find greener cleaning products for your home.

The household cleaning agents we use contain hundreds of potentially harmful substances. The harmful components in many household and personal care products can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, and eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation; some can cause cancer.

Many of these cleaning substances are used by pregnant women, and when inhaled, get into our systems and in turn, get through to your growing baby as well. My rule of thumb is that if it is really strong-smelling, you probably do NOT want to be inhaling it. More specifically, pregnant women are warned to stay away from insecticides, pesticides, bleach and ammonia. These inhalants can be really nasty and cause birth defects.

So what should we do? Our nesting instincts are bound to take over and encourage us to clean the house from top-to-bottom. So what should we use? The answer is greener, less harmful, and more mild cleaning solutions (like the ones grandma used to use).

Another bonus to working on greener cleaning solutions is that you are starting the baby-proofing process early. According to the World Watch Institute, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10 percent of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers in 2000, accounting for 206,636 calls. Of these, nearly two-thirds involved children under six, who can swallow or spill cleaners stored or left open inside the home. Do not under-estimate the will of a young toddler who really wants to see what is under your sink. So why not ensure that the products under there are less harmful/toxic?

  • Less expensive. The amount of products you need for green cleaning is way less than your different cleaners for all different types of surfaces in the house!
  • Better for YOU and for BABY
  • Smells better and improves the air quality within your home. Less chemicals for you and your baby to breathe in and absorb.
  • Eco-friendly: Most store bought household cleaners are not good for the environment.
  • Greener or homemade products are less harmful to the world. They also use less packaging, so there is less packaging waste. You’re not buying new bottles over and over and sending those chemical covered plastic bottles to landfills!

Rules of thumb:

  • Avoid use of insecticides and pesticides in your home. If you have an infestation, you should contact exterminators that use greener/less toxic products.
  • Chlorine bleach is harmful, so avoid any cleaning products containing bleach.
  • Fragrances can mean up to 200 chemicals in a product. Avoid purchasing products with fragrances and dyes.
  • Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can do the job in most cases!
  • Greener cleaning products have come to market, but can be more expensive. Seventh Generation is a brand I like and trust.
  • In the rare instance you need to use a hazardous product, use as little as possible and dispose of it in a way that will cause minimum harm—for example, by bringing it to a hazardous waste recycling or treatment center.

Making Homemade Cleaners:

You will need:

  • distilled white vinegar
  • lemon
  • baking soda
  • olive oil
  • Water
  • liquid castile soap
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • borax (only for laundry detergent)
  • washing soda (only for laundry detergent)

Furniture polish:
½ cup distilled white vinegar and 1 tsp olive oil

Marble counter tops: 1 TBS castile soap, quart warm water, rinse and then dry with a cloth

Glass and all purpose cleaner:

  • Get old glass cleaner bottle when runs out
  • Fill ½ distilled white vinegar and ½ water.
  • Use on anything. Especially good for high chairs and toys that your baby may touch or put their mouth on!

Soaps for cleaning dishes: water and castile soap

Mildew and mold:
use a mixture of lemon juice or white vinegar and salt

Baking soda and cornstarch are both good carpet deodorizers.

Clogged Drain:
Pour a quarter cup of baking soda down the clogged drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Close the drain tightly until fizzing stops, then flush with boiling water.

Bathroom: Baking soda and castile soap on tub, toilet, and counter. Makes a gritty scrub. All purpose cleaner on everything else!

Laundry: If anything avoid fragrances or colors in your detergents!

We typically use Sun Free, which is a good plant-based detergent. I have read up on it and it is supposed to be very good on cloth diapers as well. I will let you know once baby comes :)

I have also heard of Charlie's Soap, which I also plan on trying ( and heard it works well.

But, here is a homemade detergent recipe, that I have also used:

  • 1 oz liquid castile soap
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • ½ cup borax
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar

    Use castile soap as base and combine with washing soda and borax (for the stains and bleaching), and either baking soda (reduced static and softens fabrics) or vinegar. Add juice of a lemon to brighten whites.

In conclusion, I hope this information helps you begin to think about how you can reduce the amount of chemical exposure you have during pregnancy. Happy cleaning!


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