NATURAL and NON-TOXIC ALTERNATIVES

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We live in an increasingly chemical society. Most people come in contact with a wide array of chemicals and products produced from chemicals every day.

It is not only when you use these chemical products that you are exposed to possibly negative effects. VOC's (volatile organic compounds) are part of many common household products. VOC's are found in the air of most homes where products such as cleaners are used and stored. Indoor air pollution is one of the nation's most pressing personal health concerns.  According to a 5-year EPA study, concentrations of 20 toxic compounds, some of which are linked with cancer and birth defects, were 200-500 times higher inside some homes than outdoors. (U.S. EPA 1991)

Many people believe that if products are available for purchase then they must have been tested and, therefore, are safe. This is not always the case.  There are no requirements for testing of adverse health effects from exposure to many of these chemicals. There is no requirement to list ingredients. The manufacturers are only required to label that products are poisonous or hazardous. Most chemicals used today were not available just 70 years ago.  More research is needed before we will know the impact of this continual contact and the cumulative effects of all these chemicals.

 

All Water Ends Up In The Ocean

 

 

The high level of toxicity associated with these products is not only a potential hazard to people, but is now also posing a great threat to the environment.  As many chemical based products are manufactured, consumed and ultimately poured down drains or otherwise disposed of, many of these chemicals end up in the ocean.  As a result we now have ocean life with toxicity levels so high that "they exceed the limits for disposal of hazardous waste at sea." (Chadwick, Douglas H.,2005 National Geographic Magazine).  See our Environment area for more detailed information.
Most contact with dangerous chemicals can be avoided by watching what you buy, reading labels and choosing natural non-toxic products whenever possible. There are many commercially available products that are either less toxic or non-toxic. 

 

There Is A Better Choice

We have compiled a list of natural alternatives, many of which you may already have in your home. Some of these natural alternatives require a little more time and a bit more elbow grease, but are safer for you and your family.  

Disclaimer: While we encourage using natural and non-toxic alternatives instead of the often highly toxic commercial formulations, please use the following suggestions with caution. While chemicals like isopropyl alcohol, borax and hydrogen peroxide are found in some of the following suggestions, they can be dangerous to both health and property if used incorrectly.  Always test the following suggestions by first using a small test portion to satisfy yourself with the functionality and safety prior to full use. Use of any of these  suggestions are at your own risk.  We assume no responsibility for the outcome or for any accidents, injuries or harm that might befall any person or property. 

 

 

Cleaning

  • General Household Cleaners

    • All-purpose cleaners

      • Baking Soda 

        • to clean glass and coffee pots - mix with water to form a thin cleaning paste

        • to remove red-wine stains from carpeting and clothing - sprinkle on spilled wine and then remove after absorption.

        • to polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, and tin - mix with water to form a thin cleaning paste

        • to remove tea stains from cups and saucers - mix with water to form a thin cleaning paste

        • to clean sinks, countertops, toilets and tubs - mix with castile or vegetable based liquid soap and a drop tea tree or lavender oil

      • Distilled White Vinegar  

        • to clean linoleum floors and glass (from windows to shower doors) - mix with water and a little castile or vegetable soap

        • to cut grease and remove stains -use straight or with a little lemon juice

        • to remove soap scum and clean toilets - mix with a little baking soda 

        • for antibacterial cleaning - pour down drains once a week

        • to kill mold and mildew - mix with water in a spray bottle 

        • to dissolve mineral deposits - use straight 

        • to remove mildew or wax buildup - use straight

        • to polish some metals - use straight

        • to clean brick or stone - mix with water

        • to clean out the metallic taste in coffeepots - use straight

        • to shine windows without streaking - use straight 

      • Corn Starch 

        • to clean windows - make a weak solution with water or vinegar

        • to polish furniture - mix with water to a paste

        • to clean carpets and rugs - mix with water to a paste, let it dry and vacuum

        • to starch clothes - make a weak solution, put in a spray bottle, spray on and iron while still wet

      • Coarse salt- abrasive, stain absorbent

        • to clean copper pans and scour cookware -  make a strong solution with water

        • to clean ovens - sprinkle on fresh spills, wipe off  

        • to remove rust stains - sprinkle on, squeeze a lemon over the stain, let sit several hours, wipe off

      • Potatoes

        • to remove rust from baking pans and tin - scrub with cut or halved potatoes, follow with a salt scrub or dip the potato in salt before scrubbing

      • Pumice stick

        • to clean and remove rust from tools and BBQ grates - rub with wet pumice stick

    • Window Cleaning 

      • White vinegar 

        • wipe or spray on 1/2 cup mixed with 1 gallon, dry off with newspaper

         

    • Wood furniture and floor polish

      • white vinegar and vegetable oil 

        • (50/50) mix well,  rub on, buff with dry cloth

    • Metal/Silverware

      • Baking soda, salt, aluminum foil and boiling or very hot water makes a great silver cleaner. Combine all ingredients in a clean kitchen sink (not if it is aluminum), glass or other bowl. Place silver into water. The natural chemical reaction will remove all the tarnish. 

      • Baking Sodamixed to a paste with water will polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, and tin.

 

  • Disinfectant/Antibacterial

    • Borax will boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent

      • mix 1/2 cup borax into 1 gallon of hot water to disinfect and deodorize

    • Isopropyl Alcohol

      • use straight or mix with water for general disinfectant

    • Tea Tree Oil 

      • mix 20-50 drops in bucket of water

  • Deodorize

    • Essential Oils - add a few drops to a bowl of hot water or put a few drops on a small scrap of cloth and leave on an open shelf for a room freshener.  Refresh as needed.  Peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender make nice nonpolluting air fresheners.

    • Baking Soda - open boxes in the refrigerator, sprinkle on smelly carpets, upholstery or vinyl, sprinkle into a smelly drain

    • Borax - sprinkle in the bottom of garbage pails or diaper pails to inhibit odor causing mold and bacteria growth

    • Vinegar - place partially filled dishes of vinegar around the kitchen to combat unpleasant cooking odors

    • Cinnamon and Cloves - boil  in a pan with water

    •  Potpourri-  lemon  peel, rosemary and whole cloves in a bowl will give inside air a pleasant scent

  • Drain Cleaners

    • Baking Soda - pour 1/2 cup down the drain, follow with 1 cup vinegar, plug drain tightly, wait for fizzing to stop, flush with 3 cups of boiling water

     

  • Laundry

    • Use only phosphate-free detergent, and use only the prescribed amount. Be sure to check the label. 

    • Hydrogen peroxide - alternative to bleach

    • Lemon Juice - bleaching effect especially in combination with sun light

    • Baking Soda - softens fabrics and removes certain stains

    • Borax - Removes stains and boosts effectiveness of detergents; to bleach, treat area with lemon and borax paste

    • Spot and Stain Removers

      • chocolate or coffee stains -  if fresh, blot with a clean cloth, use Club soda and cold water; otherwise soak in cold water, rub with soap and a mild borax solution, rinse, then wash in the hottest water the fabric will stand.

      • blood stains -  if fresh, blot with a clean cloth, use Club soda and cold water; if stain persists, rub with cornstarch and water paste, let dry in the sun if possible, brush or vacuum, wash as usual or apply mixture of