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5 Swaps for Cleaner Cleaning

woman cleaning window

ULTRA F/Thinkstock

A study shows toxic products can be as bad on the lungs as smoking.

Procrastination pays! I tend to put off housekeeping chores, but after I read last week’s study on how bad cleaning sprays are for women’s lungs, I don’t feel so guilty. The study, which came out from the American Thoracic Society, reported that women who clean at home or professionally using cleaning sprays and other cleaning products appeared to have a greater decline in lung function than women who did not clean. The study looked at data from 6,235 participants, over 20 years, and found that for women working as cleaners, the damage was comparable to smoking. The study authors say it’s due to the irritation from chemicals in common cleaning products. For this week’s Healthy Habit, I’m seeking some safer alternatives.  

Spraying on the: Tilex

I hate to give this one up, as it works so well on mildew, but I can live without those fumes. The Environmental Working Group has a variety of suggestions, two of which scored an A in their ratings: Attitude Bathroom Mold & Mildew Cleaner, which uses tea tree leaf oil and lime oil, and Concrobium Mold Control, which has a proprietary blend of salts.

Grabbing for the: Lysol

I know, everyone is blasting this all over the joint right now because of the flu. Alternatives to try include Thieves Spray by Young Living, or, buy a glass spray jar and mix up your own antiseptic spray using vodka, rosemary, eucalyptus, orange and lavender essential oils. Which kind of sounds like a new cocktail…

Spritzing on the: Windex

This has all sorts of allergens, but the big concern is ammonia, which, according to the EWG, is a high level of concern for causing skin burns and eye damage, and causing asthma. You can make a safer alternative, again, in a glass spray bottle. Mix white vinegar, cut with water, and add a little cornstarch. Fun fact: If you’ll be DIYing a bunch of cleaners using vinegar, there is a “cleaning strength” of vinegar that is stronger than cooking vinegar and therefore better at getting out stains. According to Heinz, it’s made the same way as white vinegar, but has 6 percent acid instead of the standard 5 percent, making it 20 percent stronger. You can still cook with it. If you see 20 percent vinegar at a garden store, that is for killing weeds and is not recommended for use in cooking or cleaning.   

Squirting in the: Toliet Bowl Cleaner

Toilet bowl cleaner is very high on the list of dangerous chemicals in the home due to hydrochloric acid. An ecofriendly alternative: PETA approved Earth Friendly Products Toilet Cleaner. Ecover is another alternative, and is packaged in a recycled bottle. The DIY route involves vinegar, baking soda and lemons.

Whipping out the: Swiffer

Man, I love my Swiffer for convenience, but the disposable covers aren’t very eco-friendly, and the wet version covers are sopping with chemicals. I’ve vowed to drag out Ye Olde Mop and some Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. Some people, by the way, use their Swiffers with microfiber cloths, towels or crocheted cozies. (Check out Etsy for this; it’s a whole thing.)

What’s your favorite green cleaning swap? Tell us in the comments section below!

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle. 

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Healthy HabitsCleaningToxic Chemicals

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