Take a trip to any supermarket and you will surely see a staggeringly broad array of cleaning products for sale. Name any household surface and you can bet that there is a cleaning product marketed for just that purpose.
While lots of these products may work wonders for a spotless house, many of them are also highly toxic. Small children that have not learned to avoid dangerous substances are particularly at risk for poisoning. Fortunately, there are safe, alternative, and easy to find products that you can use for most of your home cleaning needs.
- Castile Soap
Castile soap is a kind of soap often made from olive oil, other vegetable oils, or coconut oil. It can come in either liquid or bar from, it is nontoxic, and the liquid version can be easily diluted down to different concentrations for different uses. It’s good for all kinds of things from hand washing to mopping!
- Baking Soda
Humble baking soda is a very useful product to have on hand for loads of household cleaning projects. It can act as a mild abrasive for scrubbing tasks, and it is also good at absorbing odours. You can combine it with a little bit of water to make a great scrubbing paste. If you need to cut grease or oil, add some castile soap to the mix.
Regular old white vinegar will do just fine. Vinegar is great at dissolving mineral and soap scum build-up. This makes it a very useful product for sink, shower, and bathtub cleaning. If you have a showerhead clogged with mineral deposits, nothing’s better than securing a small plastic bag full of vinegar over the showerhead with an elastic band. Wait several hours, remove the bag and rinse it off!
Vinegar can be used at full strength or mixed with water in a spray bottle. The diluted spray is a fantastic alternative to window cleaners containing ammonia.
- Olive, Vegetable, or Tea Tree Oil
Any of these oils will work as an ingredient for furniture polish. Just combine in a 2:1 ratio with vinegar or lemon juice. Using a soft piece of cloth or flannel, polish the furniture with this mixture until it dries.
Tea tree oil doubles as an antiseptic so it can be used for mildew control as well. Add 2 teaspoons of it to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, and spray over the mildew.
If you do need to buy other cleaning products, try to choose ones that are nontoxic and free of phosphates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and solvents. Some particularly dangerous products to be aware of are:
- Spray-on carpet cleaners
- Pest poisons
- Oven cleaner
- Laundry detergent pods – these pods resemble candy, and so there is a greater risk that a child will try to ingest them.
- Toilet bowl cleaning tablets
No matter what products you use for house cleaning, it is a good idea to keep them out of reach of children. Some important steps to take:
- No more storing your cleaning supplies under the sink, since those cabinets are right at a child’s level.
- Put child-proof latches on any cabinets containing cleaning products.
- Don’t store cleaning products in repurposed food or beverage containers.