I became exponentially more germ-aware when I brought my baby home from the hospital. I was constantly washing my hands and enforcing the “wash your hands before you touch the baby” rule. Now that she’s a bit older, I’m less concerned about germs from people and more concerned about germs from everything that she puts into her mouth. And she puts everything in her mouth. Now that I’m constantly cleaning and disinfecting, I loved these ideas from the authors of The Healthy Home.
The authors make the point that if you wouldn’t want it in your mouth, don’t use it to clean. They say that in many cases, a bucket of warm, soapy water and a little elbow grease are all you need to clean and disinfect almost everything that needs a-cleanin’, so you can avoid bringing fumey products home. When soap and water just won’t do? Try these! (And share them with your partner because he should take some of the cleaning load, too!)
4 Old-Fashioned Cleaners That Work
Baking soda. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) effectively dissolves dirt and grime, eliminates soap scum, cuts through grease, and unclogs drains. Use it anywhere you would use scouring powders or odor-eliminating sprays.
Vinegar. White distilled vinegar is perfect for dissolving soap scum, cleaning windows and mirrors, disinfecting surfaces, and can even serve as fabric softener (but be careful never to use bleach and vinegar in the same load—toxic fumes can result). The strong smell will dissipate as soon as the vinegar dries.
Citrus. Lemon juice has mild bleaching properties that make it a great stain remover and whitener. It can be used to polish brass and copper or remove hard water stains. If you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice, try putting the peels down the garbage disposal to make the whole kitchen smell fresher. Or put lemon slices in your dishwater to enhance the grease-cutting power of natural soaps.
H20. Water is a universal solvent, and won’t leave lingering VOCs behind for you and your family to inhale. If you find that warm water isn’t enough to get the job done, think about investing in a steam cleaner.
The book includes recipes for cleaning everything from windows to drains. But since you’re a parent, you probably want the carpet stain remover? And the heavy-duty cleaning? Yep, thought so. Luckily, they’re simple and easy.
Carpet stain remover: Baking soda combined with water or club soda.
Heavy-duty cleaning (for large jobs): Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 2 teaspoons liquid soap to 1 gallon of hot water. If it’s a particularly stubborn project, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of borax.
Now you can go to town on that stuck-on macaroni or that stubborn poop stain in the carpet. Cheap, easy, and no fumes! —Erin
© 2011 Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz, authors of The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family From Hidden Household Dangers