Dimethylbenzylammonium chloride, trisodium nitrilotriacetate chloride, butoxy ethanol. These unpronounceable solvents are some of the ingredients that are common within everyday cleaning products. They are also very harmful to your health and environment. Instead of introducing potentially life harming chemicals into the home in order to clean and disinfect, try using a combination of natural products that work just as effectively without carrying health or environmental hazards.
Since manufacturers of cleaning products are not required by law to list all the ingredients on the label it can be very difficult to determine what products are safe to use in the home. Dimethylbenzylammonium chloride is the active ingredient in Lysol, one of the most popular cleaning products found on the shelf. However, this agent is extremely harmful to fish and other marine life. The cleaning agent trisodium nitrilotriacetate chloride is found in some powdered detergents. It has been listed as a possible cancer causing agent by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as having harmful effects on the environment by preventing the eradication of metals in wastewater treatment plants. According to New Jersey Worker’s Right-to-Know Fact Sheet, solvents such as butoxy ethanol should be used with great caution because “it is a poison that can easily absorb through the skin” causing dizziness, light headedness and in extreme cases can lead to anemia through the destruction of red blood cells. This product has also been shown to impair kidney and liver function.
Switching to green solutions for cleaning is simple and easy, with all necessary items usually being found in the kitchen.
- Baking soda: use it as a regular abrasive cleaner on sinks and counter tops, sprinkle onto carpet prior to vacuuming to deodorize, use to scour.
- Lemon juice: cleans and shines metal fixtures like brass and copper, eliminates most household bacteria, dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits
- Vinegar: disinfectant and deodorizer, performs like an all purpose cleaner, removes mildew, cuts grease
- Borax: cleans walls and floors, disinfects, softens water
Here are some helpful combinations to maximize cleaning power
- All purpose cleaner: Mix ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into ½ gallon (2 liters) water.
- Air freshener: Mix baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice and place on small containers around house to eliminate odors. You can also mix a few drops of essential oils, such as citrus or lemon, in a glass jar with water and use as a spray.
- Scrubbing paste: Pour liquid soap into ½ cup of baking soda until a frosting-like consistency is formed.
- Furniture polish: Mix ½ teaspoon olive oil and ¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a jar. Dab cloth into mixture and rub onto wood surfaces.
Enjoy the freedom of having chemical free cleaners in the home which work just as effectively. By making your own cleaning products you can ensure the health of your family while simultaneously having a positive impact on the environment.