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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Detox Your Home



Since we're coming up to Spring cleaning, I thought I'd organize a post about how to try chemical free options. By now I'm sure you've figured out that going green and chemical free are important to me. I understand that not everyone has the same opinions or goals as me; or maybe you just think it will be more expensive and/ or be harder work for you. I can honestly say that I have found going chemical free to be easier and less expensive than I originally perceived. To help me with this post I recently spoke with Garcie Wong who's been chemical free for almost 6 years about why and how she does it.

After seeing people she knew die from cancer that were far too young, Garcie made the decision to remove as many chemicals from her home as possible and to pay more attention to the products she chose to use- to be a "choosy consumer".  Together we have organized this post about how you can try going chemical free.

3 Reasons to try going chemical free

1. Health
Have you ever noticed any of the following symptoms when you're cleaning: sneezing, coughing, headache? That's not just from a dislike of chores, that's the effects of the cleaners you're using. Some of the products I used to use were so bad I had to open a window because the smell hurt my nose and throat. Yikes.

According to the Consumer Federation of America, 150 chemicals found in homes are associated with health concerns such as allergies, birth defects, and psychological disorders. Another concern: in the past 20 years, asthma rates have tripled[1]

Because they spend the most time indoors and have weaker immune systems, infants and toddlers are some of the most affected by the chemicals used in the home. Just think mama, if you spend quite a lot of time inside caring for your kiddies, you and your kids are being exposed to a variety of chemicals over a long period of time.

2. Budget
An average household spends $600- $800 a year on chemical cleaning products. When you find and/ or make your own alternatives you eliminate a lot of the cost associated with keeping a home clean (check out my cost break down for my home made laundry detergent here). If you think it's expensive to try the natural route, consider how much a box of baking soda and bottle of vinegar cost; as two of the main ingredients for many home made cleaners, these two items are frugal friendly (see below for some great home made cleaners- most contain these 2 inexpensive ingredients).

3. Environment
While a lot of products claim to be eco- friendly and green, you have to read the label carefully. Ingredients such as formaldehyde can be hidden under a variety of names to trick you into thinking you’re using a chemical free product (see below for a list of common baddies). 

Consider where the water and waste goes after you've cleaned. Many chemicals leach into and pollute soil and water and some don't break down, entering the food chain. How healthy is a fresh- caught fish if it feeds and lives in polluted waters?

Also think about the containers your products come in: Are they re- usable? Recyclable? In aerosol cans? If you want to try buying natural cleaning options, the container can be a clue to how eco- friendly the product is; an aerosol can- even if labeled 'green'- likely doesn't contain an eco- friendly option. If you decide to try making your own, you can re- use bottles and containers, just simply rinse and re- fill. 

What to avoid in cleaning products

Here's a few chemicals to look out for in common cleaning products*:
- chlorinated phenols- found in toilet bowl cleaners
- diethylene glycol- found in window cleaners
- phenols- found in disinfectants 
- nonylphenol ethoxylate- found in laundry detergents & all- purpose cleaners
- formaldehyde- found in deodorizers 
- petroleum solvents- found in floor cleaners
- perchloroethylene- found in spot rmovers
- butyl cellosolve- found in all- purpose, window, & other cleaners  

* Info from Gaiam Life

Make your own

Want to try making your own? Check out these ideas:

All Purpose Cleaner
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dish soap (try castille soap rather than a regular dish soap)
4 tbsp white vinegar
400mL warm water
Add all ingredients into a spray bottle & stir/ shake well

Glass Cleaner
¼ cup rubbing alcohol
½ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups warm water
Add all ingredients into a spray bottle & stir/ shake well

Dusting Spray
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup white vinegar
1 cup warm water
Add all ingredients into a spray bottle & stir/ shake well

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup borax
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup warm water
Put all ingredients directly into toilet bowl & mix with toilet brush. Let sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing

Granite Cleaner
½ cup rubbing alcohol
8 drops castile soap (again, instead of regular dish soap)
2 cups warm water
Add all ingredients into a spray bottle & stir/ shake well

Tile Cleaner
½ grapefruit
¼ cup salt
Put salt on grapefruit half and scrub directly on tile

Grout Cleaner
½ baking soda
¼ cup white vinegar
Mix in a small container (don’t cover/ put lid on) & use toothbrush to apply paste to grout. Let sit for 5 minutes then rinse off


Recipes from He and She Eat Clean.

See what I mean about the baking soda and vinegar? And you probably have all of the ingredients already; if not, what you have to buy will go a long way. I hope you give some or all of these a try- I made up my own all purpose cleaner and love it! 

As an added bonus, for anyone who's been thinking about trying chemical- free cleaning, Garcie has offered up a Basic Package from Norwex- a value of $38 for TPB readers! This includes an Enviro Cleaning Cloth and a Window Cleaning Cloth- just add water! To enter, go to our Contests page!

About today's content contributor


Garcie Wong is married to her supportive husband who cheers her on, with two teenaged children. She has worked as an operating room nurse and has been a lawyer for 23 years and is currently an Executive Sales Leader with Norwex. With the company for almost 6 years, Garcie loves the flexibility being self- employed allows, while making a difference in people’s lives.

A big thanks to Garcie for her contribution to this post. You can learn more about her and Norwex on her website and Facebook page.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25167855@N07/5292576567/



[1] Consumer Federation of America, 1997

March posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique