Scrubbing your floor with chemicals is really just as bad as scrubbing your face with chemicals. And pretty much every cleaner you'll find on store shelves contains a veritable who's who list of toxic ingredients. Although the long-term health effects of chemicals vary greatly-due to the level of toxicity and the amount of exposure-some have been known to include eye and respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and memory impairment according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that, of common household chemical compounds, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects and even cancer.
So now that I have you emptying your cleaning cabinets, it's time to fill them back up again. Luckily there are more natural cleaning options out there than ever. Seventh Generation is definitely the biggest brand, and the easiest to find (even at your local drugstore or supermarket). The ever-expanding natural giant makes everything from natural, nontoxic laundry detergents to glass cleaner (plus toilet paper, baby wipes and many other random, but necessary, products). Another great brand that may be harder to find is Sun And Earth. Method, who's sophisticated packaging looks great on the countertop, is actually better than your average toxic cleaning product. But be cautious because even though their products contain natural essential oils, they also use synthetic colors and fragrances.
If you really want to get back to basics, try making your own natural cleaners. Some natural cleaning agents come from products you already have in your cabinets. Wash windows just like they did in the old days with equal parts vinegar and water for a clean, streak-free shine. Dip a newspaper page into the solution and wipe until almost dry. White vinegar can also be used to clean stainless steel and a baking soda paste works just was well as a scrubbing formula to clean the tub. To clean stained countertops let some lemon juice sit on the stain for a few minutes before scrubbing with baking soda.
To make an all-surface cleaner mix 125ml of pure, plant-based soap (such as castile soap, which you can find in your local health food store) with 4 liters of hot water until melted. Then you can add 60ml of lemon juice or several drops of lemon essential oil to help cut grease. For plenty of other recipes one of my favorite books is Better Basics For The Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond, which includes more than 800 alternative alternatives to toxic household products (from window cleaner to a three ingredient all-natural metal polish). The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier and Green Clean by Linda Mason Hunter are two more really good options filled with natural cleaning recipes. So open the windows, let in the spring air and purify your home the natural way.