Green Products for Healthy Spring Cleaning

Many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, but your home is already stocked with natural cleaners

Lemons make great natural stain removers

Spring is typically the time we give our homes a good cleaning.

But before you reach for commercial household cleansers, consider this: Many cleaning products contain harsh, even toxic chemicals (e.g., sodium hypochlorite, ammonia, phenol and phosphoric acid). Exposure typically happens through inhaled vapours or absorption into the skin, sometimes leading to irritation of the eyes, lungs and skin, among other adverse effects. Chemical fumes and fragrances are common triggers for conditions like asthma or migraine headaches.

To reduce your family’s exposure to the harsh chemicals found in conventional cleansers, switch to green or (better still) natural cleaning ingredients available in your own kitchen.

Green Cleaners

Selecting products that are biodegradable, non-toxic, phosphate-free, chlorine-free and free of petrochemicals is a good way to start greening your cleaning. Look for green cleaners that list all the ingredients on the label – the shorter the list, the better. Look for recognizable ingredients like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid (lemon juice), and select products that are fragrance-free if sensitivity is an issue.

Natural Cleaners

Many products in your own kitchen cupboard make great cleaning agents. Here are a few 
common ingredients and what they can do:

  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) – Cleans, deodorizes. Gentle abrasive for scouring jobs.

  • Borax (sodium borate) – A natural mineral that cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, inhibits the growth of mould and mildew. Used in water softeners and soaps.

  • Lemon juice (contains citric acid) – Stain 
remover, natural deodorant, slight bleaching effect. Dissolves soap residue.

  • Salt (sodium chloride) – Can be used as a scouring paste.

  • Vegetable-oil-based soaps (e.g., castile) – Great general cleaners.

  • White vinegar (acetic acid) – Disinfects, deodorizes, cuts grease, dissolves mineral deposits, removes mildew and some stains.
 Good fabric softener.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.