Natural Healing: Natural Homemade Cleaners

| March/April 2002

  • Natural homemade cleaners enhance freshen and clean your house without harmful, toxic cleaning ingredients.


Once upon a time, people would set aside an entire week to scour and polish everything from the rafters to the floorboards, armed with a myriad of natural homemade cleaners. But today, many of us naively rely on commercially manufactured household cleaners to clean, polish, deodorize and disinfect.

How safe are the cleaning ingredients in these chemical concotions? Many of the cleaners we use every day contain ingredients that are harmful to both our health and the environment. In fact, conventional cleaning products are among the most hazardous chemicals we are exposed to—and the easiest to avoid.

Polluting the homefront

A recent five-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency reported the concentration of twenty toxic chemicals found in common household cleaners to be as much as 200 times higher inside our homes than outside. While a number of these chemicals are toxic to one degree or another, here are a few of the worst offenders.

Chlorine is found in many common cleaners, including automatic dishwashing detergent, mildew removers, and toilet-bowl cleaners. Breathing in the fumes of products containing large amounts of chlorine can irritate the respiratory tract. A highly corrosive chemical, chlorine can also damage the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Chlorine is considered so dangerous that it was listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the 1990 Clean Air Act, and exposure in the workplace is regulated by the federal government.

Many cleaners also expose users to carbon-based gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCS). According to the New York University Medical Center, indoor levels of VOCs can accumulate to dangerously high concentrations and are a leading contributor to “sick building syndrome.” Able to cross the blood-brain barrier, VOCs can depress the central nervous system, leading to eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, memory impairment, and even loss of consciousness.

10/27/2012 2:03:34 AM

I am a big fan of switching to "green" cleaning products. It has made a big difference in my family's health. A few times I have hired a cleaning service that specializes in "green" services to scour my home. I was very pleased with the outcome!

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