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Fed up of using chemicals to keep your home clean? Take a small step towards detoxing your home of harmful chemicals, with these simple tips.
Do you want to reduce the use of toxic substances at home? Do you want to use more natural products, be more aware, more green, but don’t know where to start? This article will show you ways and means to be greener and chemical-free at home. Read on for some interesting alternatives to chemical cleaners, and some practical tips!
There are a lot of people who want to do something about making our planet and our surroundings a better, cleaner, and healthier place. And the first place they would like to start from is their home. Me included! So many basic daily-use items contain poisonous chemicals, and so much has already been said about the negative health effects of such products. But I often find myself stuck around questions like How do I reduce the chemicals used at home? What alternatives are there in the market? Where do I start from? Which is the right product? …and so on.
The Internet can be quite useful, but at the same time, quite overwhelming, too. When I started my research, I came across a lot of interesting, practical, easy-to-use and easy to implement information to reduce the use of chemicals at home, which I will share here:
Our homes should be a safe, clean space that helps us be healthy and happy. But if we are cleaning our homes with chemicals (think sprays, toilet cleaners, fresheners) day in and out then our home may not be that safe a place as we think!
The first step would be to identify what chemicals are being used in the house. Start with your bathroom cleaning supplies cupboard, the laundry and the kitchen cleaning supplies closet. You will find a lot of products that you hadn’t even thought about as being harmful.
Toilet cleaners, for example, are harsh chemicals that eventually burn or rot down your plumbing pipes and flow down further into the ecosystem. Check your floor cleaner, room freshener, your glass and window spray cleaner – all of these are chemical products.
Once you have identified what products you are currently using, then you can look for or prepare alternatives for them. There are quite a few surprising alternatives to chemical products. As Srishti Kukreja says “This might sound crazy but I use Ayurvedic shampoos as home cleaners. They make the marble all shiny and the house smells fantastic after that…!”
We absorb toxins released by commercial household cleaning products through the skin while we scrub. To reduce this exposure and absorption, try making your own inexpensive, non-toxic cleaning products. Some ingredients that you can use from home are baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and essential oils.
Baking soda is one of the best substances to use as alternative and natural cleaning agent. It helps in making a substance neither too acidic nor too alkaline. So when it comes in contact with a substance it neutralizes the pH. Baking soda is a great product to remove odours; keep an open box in the fridge and all the strong food odours will vanish.
Vinegar is a cheap, easily available product and it works wonders. Use it to clean your microwave. Put a cup of vinegar in a microwave safe glass bowl and heat it for about 5 minutes on a high power, till the walls of the microwave are covered with a mist or fog. Let the microwave door stay closed for 2 to 3 minutes. Then take the bowl out carefully. Wipe the inside surfaces of the microwave with a cloth or paper towel.
Baking soda is a great product to remove odours; keep an open box in the fridge and all the strong food odours will vanish.
Essential oils are volatile aromatic oils that are obtained from various plants. The main reasons to use them in cleaning are their scent, their cleaning properties, and their antimicrobial properties. Add 3 to 4 drops (that is more than enough) to your daily bucket of mopping water and the house smells beautiful, and is squeaky clean!
Instead of using chemical room fresheners and sprays use these natural methods to freshen up the room. To aid cross ventilation and natural air flow, keep windows and doors open as much as possible. Keep indoor green plants, bowls filled with natural potpourri made with flowers and herbs, like rosemary or sage. You can also keep small bowls filled with lemon juice and vinegar or some lemongrass around the house.
It is not that difficult as it seems. All you need to do is start taking those baby steps and replace things one at a time. Once an alternative product is part of your routine, move on to the next thing. Don’t go for an all out overhauling of everything you use, at the same time. That can be overwhelming! Eventually you will reach a stage where you can phase out all chemical cleaners and use natural products instead.
Arshia Nathani Ladak, who made a choice to go chemical free about 9 years ago after her first visit to Auroville, Pondicherry, says “I use lemon grass oil mixed in water as a floor cleaner instead of phenol. Citronella as a mosquito repellent and lavender oil as a room freshener.”
Tip 1 – To clean bathroom tubs, tile and sinks effectively, sprinkle baking soda on a clean damp sponge and scrub as you normally do. Rinse it with water and then wipe the surface dry.
Tip 2 – For your daily mopping, add 1/2 a cup of vinegar in a bucket full of warm water. Rinse and mop it dry and voila, you will have a sparkling clean floor! The smell of vinegar disappears as the vinegar dries off. But if you don’t like that smell, then add a few drops of any essential oil such as lavender oil, tea tree oil, lemongrass oil to the bucket.
Tip 3 – Clean your windows with a mixture of vinegar diluted half and half with water. Put it in a spray bottle which is easy to use.
Tip 4 – Unblock your drains using this natural mixture – Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, add a cup of vinegar, leave the mixture for about 15 to 20 minutes and then pour about a liter of hot water down the drain
Inspired? Ready to begin? You ask, “Are there some store bought natural products that you can pick up?”
Yes! We asked people who have been using natural products across their home and this is what Shreyas Jayakumar says “I use apple cider vinegar to clean most things. The floor is cleaned with this herbal cleaner made by Herbal Strategi. I have switched over to their mosquito repellent too as it is all natural.”
‘Common Oxen makes some awesome floor cleaners too. Rustic Art’s washing powder for clothes does not leach toxins into the water or soil. I use neem and lemongrass oils to get rid of bugs. I spray it in my garden as well. I am also in the process of incorporating indoor plants that specifically improve indoor air quality.”
Start with one small change this week and let us know how you are doing in your journey of freedom from chemicals. Live cleaner and healthier!
Pictures courtesy – 1, 2,3 – Flickr Creative Commons, Inf3ktion (Used under a CC license)
Simran Dhaliwal is an engineer, a wannabe traveler and a newbie runner. She has worked
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