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The Broomfielder

Detoxify Your Home with Natural Spring Cleaning

Apr 01, 2019 04:15PM

By Elizabeth Buckingham

After a long, cold, dreary winter, there are few tasks better suited to brushing those cobwebs away than a solid spring cleaning session. Opening your windows, airing out your home, and scrubbing off a winter’s accumulation of mud and dirt and grime can set the tone for a season of rebirth and renewal. But wait! Put down that bottle of brand-name cleanser! If you’re trying to refresh your home and remove a season’s worth of allergens and toxins, why douse it in poisons?

The next time you walk down the cleaning products aisle at your local grocery store, take a deep breath. Those fake smells are all lab-created chemicals, designed to give you the impression of cleanliness and freshness, but in reality they’re exceedingly toxic for both you and the environment. Household cleaners can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, and they’ve been linked to asthma and other immune disorders. They’re also responsible for thousands of unintentional poisonings every year, mostly of children, because many cleaning products are brightly-colored and easily mistaken for sugary drinks. 

Cleaning your home with natural products allows you to do less harm to the environment and to save money, too. You only need a few simple things to clean your home naturally: water, lemon, vinegar, coarse salt, and baking soda. 

            •           Slice a lemon in half and use it to clean and disinfect cutting boards. Countertop stains can be removed with lemon juice, too, but don’t use this treatment on marble or granite as the acid can be corrosive to softer materials. Lemons are a natural bleaching agent; add one-half cup lemon juice to your washing machine’s rinse cycle to help brighten whites and keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean. 

            •           If your garbage disposal doesn’t smell great, throw half a lemon and a few ice cubes down it to freshen it. (And start a compost pile – the best way to keep your garbage disposal fresh is to not put food waste in it.)

            •           A simple paste of baking soda and water can be used to clean ovens, tile work, and stovetops. For a really messy oven, combine 1½ cups baking soda, ¼ cup vinegar, and a few drops of water to make a thick paste. Apply to oven surfaces, let sit overnight, and then remove with a warm, damp cloth; grease and baked-on food will come right off. Baking soda can also be added to laundry, dusted on carpets before vacuuming, and sprinkled in the bottom of garbage cans, too.

            •           Vinegar is one of the most powerful and economical natural cleaning products available. Mix one part vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle and use to clean windows indoors and out. Add a little neutral oil, like sunflower or coconut, to make your own combination wood dusting and polishing spray. 

            •           Commercial toilet cleaners are some of the most toxic products on the market. To clean and deodorize toilets, pour one cup of white vinegar into the bowl and let sit for several hours to deodorize and neutralize germs. Scrub stains with a toilet brush to leave your toilet sparkling clean.

            •           Coarse salt is a perfect abrasive for scrubbing cast iron pots and pans without removing the seasoned finish. You can also scrub tile and grout with coarse salt or baking soda, but be wary of scrubbing when scratching might be a concern (i.e. nonstick cookware). 

You don’t need to spend your hard-earned dollars on wasteful paper towels or fancy cleaning cloths, either. Collect your household’s old t-shirts, then wash, dry, and cut into squares. These soft cotton cloths can be washed and reused for cleaning almost indefinitely. 

If you’ve decided to break up with all of your poisonous household cleaning products, don’t dump them down the sink, on the ground or in the storm drain. If you don’t want those chemicals in your home, you don’t want them in our water supply either, right? Broomfield hosts two household hazardous waste disposal days each year; the next one will be on May 4. Call 303-438-6334 to schedule your appointment, and get that toxic sludge out of your house. Just think of how easy next year’s spring cleaning routine will be!