One fateful day, I realized that the chemical cocktails that clean our house, from the good old Lysol to our ever-reliable Domex, do more damage to the environment and to our health. Air fresheners, disinfectants and spot removers contain nuerotoxins that poison our brain and nervous systems. All purpose cleaners, dishwashing liquids and furniture polish or window cleaners, contain carcinogens that causes or aggravate cancer. Laundry detergents also have endocrine disrupters that interfere with our reproductive system, or mutagens that causes permanent genetic changes in our cells. For those with a bun in the oven, glass cleaners and all purpose cleaners contain teratogens that interfere with fetal development. These chemical cocktails contaminate our daily lives, filling the tables where we eat, the sinks where we wash our food, and the bathrooms where we ironically clean ourselves, with VOCs that have adverse health effects. So I decided to ditch Lysol, Domex, Downy, and Pledge and loaded up on white vinegar, kalamansi, baking soda and olive oil. These homemade solutions are lighter on the planet and on your wallet.
Glass Cleaner and Surface Cleansers– Fill a spray bottle with just 2 teaspoons white vinegar and 1 quart of water. Spray on a cloth and wipe on your mirrors, windows and appliances or countertops. Don’t worry about the vinegar, as the odor vanishes once the solution is dry.
Home-made Bleach– Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl, drizzle with vinegar, then scrub your way to cleanliness. Soiled fabrics can also be cleaned with kalamansi juice. Just blot on the spot and then dry it out in the sun.
Banana Shoe Shine– Banana peels have more use than just making you slip. Polish your leather shoes with the inside of a peel then buff it with an old sock.
Floor Cleaner- For tiles or linoleum, fill a bucket with 1-cup vinegar mixed with 2 gallons of hot water. And nope, it won’t stink.
Air Purifiers– Combat indoor air pollution by installing houseplants that breathe in harmful toxins and exhale oxygen. Some of these good plants are the Boston fern (absorbs formaldehyde), spider plants (decreases benzene) and the lady palm (filters more ammonia than any other houseplant.) Other effective leafy air filters include peace lilies, mums, and daisies.
Ant Repellant– Plain old cayenne pepper lining up any area will block ant-traffic and rid you of annoying marching ants.
Furniture Polish– Use one-cup olive oil combined with 1/2 cup lemon juice, yes it is as simple as that.
Air Fresheners– Air fresheners actually don’t freshen your air, they just block your ability smell. The better way instead is to use essential oils in a candle-lit oil warmer or terra-cotta light ring, light an aromatic soy candle, or place a sachet filled with dried lavender in the room.
Fabric Softener – Instead of using fabric softener, try adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle. It acts as a natural softener and is gentler for those with sensitivities to chemicals in their laundry. You can also add baking soda to the rinse water to help remove odors from clothes.
For the lazy environmentalist:
On a similar note, there are also chemical-free cleaning products in the market, Rustan’s have some, especially detergents and soaps.
I also found a local initiative called Messy Bessy. This company makes household cleaning products that are “earth-friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable”, using Baking Soda, Distilled White Vinegar, and also sell Essential Oils. They have Surface Cleaners, All Purpose Scrubs, Window Cleaners, Aroma Spray, Mildew Spray, Carpet Cleaners and Linen Sprays. www.messybessy.com
I most recently found Soapnuts, as an alternative to detergents. These are 100% natural and organic, and bio-degradable. Soapnuts are dried fruits of the Soapnut tree, native to India.These are now being sold all over the UK, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Soapnuts are now available in the Philippines. Visit www.naturecorner.multiply.com. Packs of 100grams are sold at only P200 (“equivalent to 20 washloads of clean, fresh and allergy free clothes!”).