Saturday, January 2, 2010

Green month day 2! Household cleaners

Did you know that since WWII, at least 75,000 new synthetic chemical compounds have been developed and released into the environment? Did you know that there is a wealth of evidential proof linking cancer to environmental contamination? Breast cancer rates are 30 times higher in the US than in Africa. 80% of all cancers are attributed to environmental influences. We are giving ourselves cancer.

You may not know it, but many of these cancer causing chemicals are used just to clean your house. Did you ever wonder why you have a bit of a sore throat if you use bleach to clean your bathroom? Or your eyes and skin burn when using such cleaners? Cleaning chemicals suspend in the air for hours and even days, and are easily inhaled. Just like a laboratory, when different chemicals come together when cleaning they can create entirely new toxic substances. This is why the air in our homes is 5 times more toxic than the air outside. Bet you never thought that was possible! It doesn't disappear when it goes down the drain either. It's forever in our water supply. There is no such thing as throwing anything "away".

The companies that make your cleaning products aren't required to list their ingredients because they are considered trade secrets. So, I'll list them for you, but I'll only list a small fraction of them. Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols-laundry detergent (stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells), ammonia (causes bronchial damage, chemical burns & corneal damage), Benzene-class cleaners/all purpose cleaners & disinfectants (carcinogen made from petroleum and coal), Butyl Cellosolve-all purpose cleaners & cleansers (irritates mucous membranes and causes liver and kidney damage), Chlorine-bleach/diswasher detergent/scouring powders (causes reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders. In all bleach action cleaners.), Dioxane-window cleaners (hazardous air pollutant and supresses the immune system)...the list goes on and on.

There are plenty of eco-friendly cleaners out there. If you're local to NEO, Green Clean makes a killer product and is now available at Whole Foods. If not, Seventh Generation makes some great all-purpose cleaners. Use a micro-fiber for dusting, and you will not need any dusting spray. Use newspaper and water as a glass cleaner. It's a great way to recycle your newspaper, and it's an excellent no-streak cleaner! Steer clear of products that claim to be green (clorox green works) but still contain some unnatural ingredients and are owned by one of the largest producers of chemical laden cleaning products, only to jump on the "green bandwagon" for the sake of the mighty dollar.

If you're looking to save some green yourself, make your own products! We make our own, and they work just as good (if not better) than any of the $4/bottle products out there. We make them for pennies! Buy a couple of spray bottles, and here are some recipes:

Simple recipes:
We use these three recipes for EVERYTHING!

CLEANSER (replaces comet or bon-ami): Baking soda.....that's it....just baking soda. We use it on our tub and it works great! Add a smidge of vinegar for foaming action. To make a cream cleanser, add a dab of liquid dish soap.

SPRAY CLEANER-ALL PURPOSE: Equal parts white vinegar & water and a few drops your choice of essential oil (try for affordable essential oils). We like lavender and peppermint mixed.

1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

More complex but lovely recipes:


Mix together in a 4 Cup (or larger) Wide Mouth Jar with Lid then pour into spray bottle.
* 2 Cups of Baking Soda
* 1/8 Cup Liquid Castile Soap
* 25 drops lavender essential oil
* 15 drops tea tree essential oil
* 1 1/4 Cups Water

Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.
Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid dish soap
2 cups hot tap water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to be informed. Ignorance is not bliss. It leads to disease, toxic living environments and the rapid death of our rainforests and precious planet.

• Environmental facts are taken from & available to read in "The Complete Organic Pregnancy" by Deirdre Dolan & Alexandra Zissu, HarperCollinsPublishers, C 2006
• Cleaners are either my own recipes or recipes found on the internet or a combination of both


  1. Steph, you're awesome for posting this stuff. I've considered myself a "green" gal but realize more and more each day how much more I could be doing for myself, my family and the environment. I've gone back and re-read my book "Green Baby, Sage Mom" and could kick myself for not having done more while I was pregnant with Amelia and while she was a little one crawling on the floors. I've been a long time fan of making my own baby food, recycling and 7th Gen products but there's so much more to consider. Thanks for the all the thoughts!!!

  2. Wow! I didn't know anyone still read this blog. I'm glad to see that's not true. :)
    I've never heard of that book, but I'm going to have to get it. My sister-in-law got me "the complete organic pregnancy" when i was pregnant with kaia. It was then that I realized that even though I thought I was living green, I really wasn't doing as much as I could. It made me change all of my cosmetic and beauty products, which I meant to get to before Jan was over, but I might just have to post it in feb!

    Good for you for doing what you can! There is a LOT to consider, and there's no way to do it all. I mean, we'd be without electricity, running in straw bale houses (which are awesome but I need electricity)and growing ALL of our food ourselves....with no cars. ;) My next step is composting, but I can't do it in our apartment. So, hoping to buy a house here in the next 5 years or so to get that going.

    If you have any tried and true baby food recipes, can you send them to me? I fully plan on making my own too, and it would be a nice help if I knew what ones were better than others. :)