Three Things To Avoid When Cleaning With Chemicals

Air Quality Canada
July 7, 2020
5 min read

Who loves a clean home?

We all do, right? Cleaning may not be our favourite activity but the final result is wonderful and totally worth it. However, getting to that final result can cause a bit of a concern because of health impacts.

So why do we want to avoid the chemicals that help us clean?

Many of the cleaning supplies we use are chemicals that can cause cancer, reproductive issues, asthma, damage to the skin and eyes, indoor air pollution and other environmental or health problems. They can also be harmful to our pets. 

Three things to avoid when cleaning with chemicals:

1. A spray bottle. We know what you’re thinking... “What? How will I clean?!”. If you can't give up the spray bottle, find an alternative bottle that turns the liquid into foam. This helps minimize the amount of chemical substance in the air. 

2. Thinking the area has to “smell clean” to be clean. Let's face it... One of the big reasons we clean is to rid the room of the unpleasant odors. Check out the cleaning aisles in any store and you'll see scads of cleaning products with a variety of scents - lavender, ocean breeze, tropical paradise etc. A common misconception is that things need to smell clean in order to be clean, but that’s not the case. Read any cleaning study or manuals produced by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)... most will tell you that if you can smell the cleaners you've probably used too much. 

3. Mixing chemicals. When tested for safety, cleaning chemicals are tested as single ingredients so combining several can be harmful. If you use one cleaner and want to follow-up with another, rinse the first one off prior to applying the second cleaner.

Alternatives for healthier cleaning

You truly don't need a different spray or cleanser for everything you clean. These alternatives can be combined with less worry because they aren't harsh chemicals. Another bonus - most people, such as children and those with sensitivities, can use these items for cleaning without negative side effects so you won't have to clean alone. 

1. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are an amazing product. They can be used for dusting and cleaning, and won't leave streaks on glass. Additionally, they don’t require cleaning agents to be effective, and water alone is often sufficient.

Another benefit is that you can reuse these for years (if you don't use fabric softener in the washer or dryer). Fabric softener creates a waxy coating on the cloth so it loses its ability to clean well. If you do accidentally wash one with fabric softener, a cup of vinegar in the wash should help remove the wax. 

Lastly, be sure to clean them weekly in hot water.

2. Vodka

No, not to drink. A cheap vodka is a great addition to your cleaning cabinet as it’s a disinfectant. It also evaporates quickly and doesn't smell so it will not affect those with scent sensitivities. Adding ¼ cup to a load of laundry helps remove odors, but dilution is necessary - usually 3 to 4 parts of water.  

3. White Vinegar

If you aren't sensitive to odors, white vinegar is a great alternative to cleaning chemicals. It can be used to disinfect every room in your house, cut grease in the kitchen, and kill germs in your laundry. Most stores sell very large bottles of white vinegar for under $5. Soaking paper towels in it and putting them in your sinks overnight can remove hard water stains. 

4. Baking Soda

A baking soda paste can be used almost anywhere. Being a great degreaser, it’s effective when scrubbing pots and pans. Adding it to your laundry also helps keep whites brighter.

5. Dish Detergent

A capful of dish detergent added to a bucket of hot water is what most professionals recommend to clean tile floors. Additionally, mixing it with baking soda creates an awesome shower and tub cleaner.

Have you used any of the above for tasks not already listed? We’d love for you to share.

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