Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Green Cleaning with DIY solutions

There are many chemicals all around us. We can not always control what chemicals we are exposed to but we can control the chemicals we use in our households. A great way to do that is by becoming green with all of your cleaning products. If you're like me, walking down the cleaning product aisle at a grocery store gives me an instant headache and actually makes me nauseous. (Never mind the fact that I have the sense of smell of a bloodhound, like my husband always tells me). But have you ever experienced this?

Why Switch to DIY products?

So, you always choose 'healthier' cleaning products anyway, why DIY? When you actually look at the label of your cleaning products there are a slew of label claims. But do they really mean anything? Let's take a look at some common label claims (info from Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning):

Active Ingredient: This usually refers to an added antimicrobial pesticide. These are hazardous chemicals that should be avoided. For example, Triclosan is a pesticide that is added to liquid soap but doesn't actually clean better than regular soap and water. It is also toxic to the environment and can contribute to the development of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant.

Biodegradable: Unfortunately, this isn't a regulated term when it comes to cleaning products. These products may bio degrade quickly and harmlessly but they could also linger for years or decompose into harmful contaminants. For example, nonylphenol ethoxylates, often found in laundry detergent, are broken down by bacteria into hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Fragrance: This is probably my number one recommended ingredient to avoid. Why? Because fragrance refers to any combination of THOUSANDS, yes you read that right THOUSANDS of different chemicals. It is literally a chemical cocktail and the actual list of chemicals used isn't disclosed! But, these chemicals are linked to a slew of different health implications from allergies, asthma, cancer and hormone disruption. And, don't be fooled by 'scent-free' or 'fragrance-free'- there can still be fragrance added- check the actual ingredient list to be sure. (aka, put down the Febreeze and read on...)

Natural/Plant Based: This is another unregulated term. It doesn't actually mean anything.

Organic: Another unregulated term when it comes to cleaning products. 

The only way to truly know what you are using to clean your home is by making it yourself and controlling the ingredients. Just think of all the chemicals in all of the products you use around the house! We are at a stage where saving the environment is a major issue . So why not start by changing what we use to clean our homes. It may seem like a small change but in the long run,  it becomes huge.

Start Green Cleaning!

First thing to do, is look in your pantry. You may already have the ingredients you will be using to start cleaning your house.

1. Baking Soda:
It is a natural disinfectant, neutralizes odours and is a natural non scratching abrasive. This will become your number one staple in making your green cleaning solutions.

2. Vinegar:
Also a natural disinfectant, combats stains, acts as a deodorizer and cuts through grease. This will also be a major ingredient to keep in your household.

All Purpose Orange Vinegar Cleaner:

Here is a simple, yet very effective all purpose cleaner to start off with.

You will need:
  1. Mason jar with lid or empty juice container or jug with lid.
  2. Orange peels - the more the better
  3. 3 - 4 Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  4. Vinegar
* Cinnamon has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and will add some more cleaning power. Plus it smells good with the orange peels.

Place the orange peels, cinnamon ( optional ), in the jar or container, add vinegar to fill the entire jar and make sure it covers the ingredients.

Place in a dark cool area and store for two weeks. When finished, strain the ingredients and transfer to a spray bottle. You can dilute this mixture with water 1:1 ratio. Can also be used at full strength in the hard to clean areas of your home.

Clean smelling air and furniture?

Another major factor in reducing chemicals in your household are AIR FRESHENERS. Did you know that air fresheners, don't actually freshen the air. It actually causes more air pollution in our homes (check out Fragrance above). Any product stating they "freshen" the air; either be it air fresheners, plug-ins or candles; they just contaminate the air. Worse even if you suffer from allergies or asthma. So I will show you a better way to freshen your furniture and upholstery.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED air fresheners!! Febreeze was one of my absolute favourite products to buy. I would spray that @$&% on everything!! But over the years, I just started getting more and more sensitive to the smell. I started feeling nauseous and it seemed like the smell of it was literally inside my nose. I couldn't get the smell off of me. So that's when I started researching how to make my own air and fabric freshener. At that time I had pets (still do), and I was becoming a new mom. So I didn't want those chemicals to affect my baby or my fur babies. My husband on the other hand, I don't think he even noticed to be honest. Anyways, I found this great alternative to help freshen the house without all the chemicals.

Natural Upholstery and Air Freshener:

You will need:
  1. Spray bottle - dollar store or reuse an old spray bottle. Just wash out thoroughly
  2. 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  3. 2 cups of lukewarm water - preferably distilled or filtered. (Tap water will have a lot of calcium  eventually build up, so you don't want that coming through onto your furniture)
  4. 10 - 20 drops of Essential oils - your favourite scent or blend. Not sure what to use, try Lavender, Lemon or Sweet Orange. 
In a small bowl mix baking soda and essential oil together, pour into bottle (you may need a funnel) and then add the water. Place lid and give it a good shake. Always shake before use. There you have it!   

You have now reduced many chemicals in your household with two very easy and simple recipes. So stock up on baking soda and vinegar. Obviously, you can find the ingredients pretty much everywhere but my fave place for getting all these ingredients is Costco. 

For more information on green cleaning and how to use them effectively around your house,  stay tuned to our green cleaning series. For more information on common chemicals in cleaning supplies, health concerns or to see how your current cleaning products rate with regards to toxicity and hazard, check out Environmental Working Groups Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

For more information and to become more informed check out this article on chemicals and how they affect us.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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