October 19, 2007, Newsletter Issue #69: Green in the Cleaning Aisle

Tip of the Week

If you shop at specialty or health food stores – or even stores that attempt to be environmentally conscious – you may see many products in the cleaning aisle that are different than what you're used to. What is the advantage of green cleaning products? And what should you look for in your cleaning products to be environmentally conscious? Many standard cleaning products have harmful chemicals or toxins that have been associated with everything from cancer to reproductive disorders.

Phosphates (in dishwashing detergent), flammable toxins like nitrobenzene (in wood polish), and bleach (in laundry detergent) can all cause harm to our home and local environments. Many toxins also irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. By switching to cleaning products with low toxicity or biodegradable ingredients, you can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and lower your risk for chemical-related sicknesses.

Look for detergent without phosphates and bleach, both of which irritate and pollute groundwater. If you aren't sure about the “green” products offered in the cleaning aisle, there are simple home remedies for cleaning that are completely safe and nontoxic. For example, if you pour a quarter cup of baking soda down a clogged drain, follow with a half of a cup of vinegar, and then flush the mixture with boiling water after it has stopped fizzing, the remedy should do the job of a normal, toxic drain cleaner. Baking soda and corn starch can safely deodorize carpet, and lemon juice or white vinegar and salt will take care of mildew.

By sticking with green cleaning products or making your own, you avoid the pollutants common to most households and eliminate the storage issues that many parents face for hazardous cleaning products.

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