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Spring Cleaning – Keeping it Healthy and Natural

That cleaning product under your sink may be great on grease but is it good for your health? Using it once or twice might not pose a serious risk to you but did you know that repeated exposure to chemicals in cleaning products can lead to toxic build up? From anti-bacterial dish soap to bathroom disinfectants, many of the chemicals found in everyday cleaning products are already known or suspected to have links to cancer, hormone imbalance, asthma, autism, and ADHD. And the list goes on!

Simplify
Depending on your age, you, your parents, or your grandparents probably remember using simple ingredients like hot water, soap, baking soda, and a little elbow grease to do the job. Somehow the house always ended up sparkling clean. Using safe, simple ingredients is something positive you can do for your health and the environment. Fortunately there are several good products on the market today that are safe and natural.

Which products should I use?
Looking at the label is the best place to start. Choose ingredients that you recognize are safe and do a background check on ones that you’re unsure about. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers an online comprehensive Guide to Healthy Cleaning for that purpose.

Make your own
There’s also another way you can be sure—by making your own. You’ve probably already got most of the ingredients you need sitting in your cupboard right now! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a natural grease buster and an antiseptic too. It does have a strong odor but the smell dissipates as it dries.

  • To create a good all-purpose cleaner, in a spray bottle, mix one part water to one part vinegar. This solution is great for countertops, sinks, appliances, and floors. Avoid using vinegar on granite and marble though. I3t can damage them.
  • To fight old, caked-on grease on oven hoods and fans, soak a sponge in warm white vinegar and wipe down surfaces.
  • To remove mildew from showers and bathroom ceilings, apply warm white vinegar directly onto the surface and allow it to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Create a natural fabric softener by adding ½ cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle.
  • Fight cat urine smells by mixing ¼ cup of vinegar with one liter of hot water and one teaspoon of orange essential oil. Wash the entire area.

Lemons
With a bright, refreshing scent, lemons are endowed with natural antibacterial properties.

  • Remove stains from countertops and cutting boards (again not on granite or marble though) by cutting a lemon in half and wiping it over the surface, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes and clean it off with warm water.
  • Dissolve soap and hard water stains in sinks by dipping a cut lemon in coarse salt and giving the area a good scrub.
  • Kill odors and bacteria in your garbage disposal by throwing in a ¼ lemon with the rind and turning it on.
  • Freshen and brighten your laundry by adding a ½ cup of lemon juice to your rinse cycle.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is a natural abrasive and deodorizer.

  • Get your toilet bowl sparkling by mixing ½ cup of baking soda with two cups of vinegar. Apply it to the sides of the bowl with your toilet brush or pour it on and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then scrub it away and flush.
  • To remove dirt, grease, and mold from your laundry add ½ cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent.
  • Deodorize your carpet by sprinkling baking soda evenly, waiting 15 minutes, and vacuuming.
  • Get your oven looking like new. Mix 1½ cups of banking soda with ¼ cups of white vinegar and a teaspoon of lemon essential oil, remove the racks and place in the sink. Apply the mixture to the walls of the oven and to the racks with a pastry brush and let it sit overnight. Wash it off the next day with hot water and a scrubbie.

Olive Oil
Olive oil conditions wood and prevents it from getting lackluster.

  • Clean and condition your wood floors with a mixture of one gallon of hot water, ¾ cup of olive oil, and one teaspoon of lemon essential oil.
  • Get your wood furniture looking shiny again by mixing one part olive oil to one part lemon juice and apply by rubbing the wood with long, even strokes.

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