Do you have small children and pets at home? Or maybe you have no pets, but are a bit of a germ phobe (guilty as charged!). This is understandable given the frightening barrage of information we are given about illnesses, viruses and other nasty things that can threaten our children’s health. To combat these invisible enemies, many parents still depend on chlorine bleach for cleaning and disinfecting the house as well as in the laundry. Television commercials show us images of daycare centers and kitchens being cleaned with bleach, implying this is safe practice around our family, children and babies. Unfortunately, even though bleach is an effective cleaner and disinfectant, it is also extremely toxic, both to ourselves and according to some scientists, to the environment.
Did you know that chlorine bleach is toxic to breathe, can harm the skin and can be fatal if swallowed? Bleach products can become even more dangerous if mistakenly mixed with other common household cleaners, such as toilet cleaners, any products containing ammonia and even vinegar! Mixing any cleaners together is a bad idea altogether.
There is much debate about whether household bleach is also a concern for the environment. Some say that bleach will break down safely in water when washed down the drain. Others say that household bleach can release dioxins into the air, a known carcinogen and a threat to the planet. If you are uncomfortable, as I am, with the possible risks of using bleach in your home, there are plenty of greener (and healthier) alternatives.
A Green Clean
Many familiar brands are now offering non-toxic cleaners for our kitchens, bathrooms and windows-hooray! Products using plant-based and biodegradable ingredients are a good place to start. There are also several natural laundry options available that can remove stains and clean baby’s diapers and clothes without harsh bleaches and other chemicals.
Do Laundry, Naturally
When washing baby’s laundry, it is not necessary to use bleach; in fact, it can shorten the life-span of diapers and covers and cause colors to fade. The good news is there are some great, all-natural laundry options out there that are free of bleaches and other harsh chemicals.
When you use your own all-natural products at home, you have complete control over the ingredients you use (but remember not to mix existing chemical cleaners). Vinegar can be used to clean and brighten laundry, and is gentle to the skin. Baking soda can also remove stains and can be used as a laundry booster. Or, you can mix it with water to make a cleaning solution. Lemon juice is another gentle stain-remover and natural disinfectant. Essential oils can also be added to a laundry’s rinse cycle as a freshener (think rosemary or lavender).
Have some other green cleaning and laundry tips for a non-toxic family? Leave a comment below!