Clean House, Clear Conscience

Wednesday December 16, 2015

Green home

History of Chemicals and Pollutants:

  • Most of our chemicals are made from non-renewable petroleum byproducts.
  • Few of these chemicals have been tested.
  • Most tests are biased and are carried out by the product manufacturers.
  • The government does little testing and has problems agreeing on definitions of toxicity or on the standards for toxic chemicals.
  • Industry recognizes few of the government standards that are set.
  • For example, many products do not contain ingredient lists or neglect to indicate warnings about possible health problems caused by their ingredients.

Toxic Chemicals, Their Aliases and Their Definitions

Toxicity: There are different types of toxicity. Acute toxicity results from one time use of a large amount of a chemical. Chronic toxicity refers to illnesses that result from repeated exposures to a small amount of a chemical over an extended period of time. This is the type of toxicity that usually affects human beings and other living organisms as a result of household cleaners and chemicals.

Volatile Organic Compounds: quick drying compounds that aid drying but leave the air filled with toxins

Natural organic chemicals: Naturally occurring combinations of atoms including carbon.

Synthetic organic chemicals: Man-made occurring combinations of atoms including carbon.

Biodegradation and Bioaccumulation:

If chemicals are not biodegradable they will accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals. Their concentration will increase as they move from one organism to another up the food chain.

Environmental Illnesses and Environmental Degradation

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities: this disease is characterized by multisystem response to low level chemical exposures commonly encountered in the ambient environment. Many symptoms may be experienced and may be misdiagnosed as allergies or other diseases.  Some chemicals act to depress the immune or nervous systems or mimic hormones causing major body imbalances.



Epstein, Samuel S. and David Steinman. The Safe Shopper’s Bible

Steinman, David and Michael R. Wisner. Living Healthy in a Toxic World

Dadd, Brenda Lynn. Home Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products

Brower, Michael and Warren Leon. The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choice

Colburn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers. Our Stolen Future

Harte, John, Cheryl Holdren, Richard Schneider and Christine Shirley. Toxics A-Z: A Guide to Everyday Pollution Hazards

Fagin, Dan, Marianne Lavelle, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health.


The Seventh Generation Guide to a Toxic-Free Home


Toxic Areas in the Home:


Chlorine bleach- causes toxic fumes when combined with ammonia or vinegar

                        -non chlorine bleach is better but still contains artificial fragrance    

                        -Safe solutions: sodium hexametaphosphate


Detergents vs. soap:

Detergents were developed especially to clean synthetic fabrics. They are formulated from petrochemicals and may contain bleaches, synthetic whiteners artificial fragrances. Soap is made from natural minerals and fats.

Baking soda, vinegar, or borax  (1 cup per load) will remove odor and dispel dirt and can replace soap altogether if stains are not an issue.

Metallic elements: use silver and copper in activated ceramics release electrons that act as a cleanser by ionizing oxygen to break down organic compounds and dirt

Spray starch: may contain formaldehyde and other phenols.

            -Safe Solution: 1 tbsp cornstarch in one pint cold water and shake spray bottle before using

Furnace, Humidifier, Filters and Ducts

Silver and Brass- these are composed of ammonia and petroleum distillates

            -Safe solutions: place aluminum and salt into boiling water with silver wear and magnetize the tarnish away (use cold water for jewelry)

            -use lemon juice to clean brass or copper or combine lemon juice and salt or lemon juice and baking soda


most window cleaners are ammonia and blue dye.

            Solution: vinegar and water- 50-50


usually contain ammonia, detergents, aerosol pollutants and fragrances

            -Safe solutions: baking soda

                                    turtle wax

Floors and Furniture polishes

formulations including phenol and nitrobenzene-both of these are extremely toxic and area absorbed through skin. These products continue to give off residual fumes after they have been applied.

            Solutions: mineral oil is still a petrochemical so it is better to use natural oils like olive oil  or beeswax


involves solvents and detergents including benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and chlorine


more than 150 carcinogenic chemicals may be found in paints.

            -use non toxic paints or milk paints to colour your indoor space.

Dishwashers and Handsoap

detergent with dye and sometimes ammonia

            Solution: castile soap

Steamcleaning and Carpet cleaners

commonly made with perchloroethylene, ammonia, detergents, and ethanol. These leave residues behind

            Solutions: baking soda sitting overnight on carpet before vacuuming

Household Insects

Solutions to pesticides: powdered Chrysanthemum cinerarifolium mixed with alcohol

                                    -ants-red chili pepper, pepperminr or borax

                                    -flies-cloves citrus oil or fly paper

Packaging and Containers

Using vinegar or baking soda allows you to purchase bulk amounts of cleaning products and reuse smaller spray bottles. Other aerosol or  toxic cans etc..should be deposited at a fire station rather than into your garbage bins.


Handsoap: Place a ½ - deep layer of  borax in a 2 litre container and fill with water. Shake and let settle. Pour off the clear part and use it as a soap concentrate.

Flypaper: Boil equal parts sugar, corn syrup and water. Paint onto a piece of brown paper.

Insect repellent:

  • Ants: sprinkle chili pepper, peppermint around ant colonies or the base of the house
  • Flies: hang clusters of cloves in the room or heat a tiny bit of citrus oil on the stove or hang a satchel of fresh orange rind in a room
  • Moths: cedar blocks placed with clothing or a sachet combining  ½ lb. rosemary, ½ lb mint, ¼ lb.tansy,  ¼ lb. thyme and 2 tbsp cloves.

Window Cleaner: Place equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and apply.

Silver Polish: In a sink full of hot water, combine a handful of salt and a sheet of aluminum foil. Let the silver soak in this mixture for 2-3 minutes and then wipe dry. For silverware, use salt, aluminum and baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, add the silverware, boil for 2-3 minutes, rinse and then dry.  When using this method for jewelry, combine the aluminum and 1 tbsp of salt in 4 cups cold water and submerge the jewelry for a few minutes, rinse and dry.

Brass Polish: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt or lemon juice and baking soda. Rub on, rinse and dry. You can also substitute other household ingredients for the lemon such as vinegar or tomato juice.

Bleach Replacement: Sodium Hexametaphosphate or food grade hydrogen peroxide

Laundry Soap: 1 cup of borax, baking soda or white vinegar per load of clothing.

Eco balls use metallic elements to ionize oxygen  into a form that breaks up dirt and organic compounds.

Grease Cleanser:

½ tsp washing soda

2 tbsp white vinegar

¼ liquid soap

2 cups water

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and apply.

Drain Cleaner: Combine baking soda and boiling water and pour down drains once per week.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner:

¼ cup soap

½ cup- 1 cup distilled white vinegar

2 gallons warm water

Combine ingredients and apply.

Dusting and Polishing Formula: 1 tsp oil to 1 cup white vinegar. Combine and apply with a rag

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

¼ cup vinegar

1 cup borax

several drops pine oil or oregano oil

Combine and let sit in toilet overnight before flushing or cleaning.


1 tsp borax

2 tbsp white vinegar

¼ cup liquid soap

2 cups hot water

Disinfecting Essential Oils: Oil of Oregano added to any cleaning solution, handsoap, toothbrushes, toilet bowls or dishrags and sponges.

  • Bergamot
  • Clove
  • Clary Sage
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme