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Spic and Span

Detoxing your kitchen

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Spic and Span

Avoid chemical cleaners and green your kitchen. Most natural kitchen cleaning agents can actually be found in the kitchen.

Does the thought of spring cleaning your kitchen conjure up buckets, sponges, and an army of chemical cleaners to scrub, scour, and disinfect every surface of your home sweet home? Do you throw open all your windows and don your rubber gloves before opening those pungent bottles of sanitizers?

Angela Solorzano, owner of eco-friendly cleaning company Going Solo, says Canadians have been conditioned to believe that the super-shiny finish from chemical cleaners equates to super-clean.

Solorzano, along with many of her clients, got headaches from chemical cleaners, sparking her interest in all-natural, biodegradable, and organic cleaning products. Many chemicals used in cleaning agents are irritants and can be harmful to the skin and to people with asthma–an environmental disease exacerbated by air pollution and poor indoor air quality.

According to the World Health Report published by the World Health Organization in 2002, indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7 percent of the global burden of disease.

In addition, Solorzano says, “Many of the chemical [cleaners] we use enable bacteria to grow into stronger strains of superbugs; so if you’re not eating your dinner off the bathroom floor, you shouldn’t worry about disinfecting every surface.”

Detoxing Your Kitchen

Kitchens are one of the hardest rooms in the house to clean in an environmentally friendly way since they yield the highest traffic and are usually the dirtiest. However, it’s not impossible; it just involves a little more elbow grease.

It’s essential to get rid of bad bacteria in the kitchen that may cause sickness. Antifungal tea tree oil is perfect for cleaning counters and creating your own natural, all-purpose cleaner.

Most natural cleaning agents can actually be found in the kitchen. You can create your own recipes using the three staple ingredients in any natural cleaning product:

  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • lemons

Conscript these natural ingredients into your cleaning arsenal and you’ll not only avoid headaches and skin irritations, you’ll also regain your home “sweet” home.

Chemicals to Avoid

Chemicals are a huge contributor to poor indoor air quality. In Canada there is no requirement for product manufacturers to list chemical ingredients that could cause long-term health effects, according to the BC Lung Association. Here are a few of the chemicals to be on the lookout for in some common cleaners.

Awareness of chemical cleaners means not only knowing the risk of using each chemical separately but also what combinations can be toxic.

“Sodium hypochlorite (the main ingredient in chlorine-based bleach) can create poisonous chlorine gas if mixed with ammonia (which may be an unlabelled ingredient in some cleaning products) or with vinegar,” warns the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia.

ChemicalCommon usesEffects
phosphateslaundry products and other cleanersif flushed down the drain, algae in our water system thrive on it, thus suffocating other marine life and disrupting nature’s balance
chlorine-based bleachfor sanitizing and whiteningleaves a residue that relates to a myriad of health problems such as lung irritation, and has been linked to cancer
petroleum-based productsin many detergentsnonrenewable, slow to biodegrade, and spark allergic reactions in some people
ammoniain all-purpose cleanersstrong irritant and can cause kidney and liver damage

Natural Cleaning Recipes

Streak-Free Glass Cleaner

Solorzano’s recipe–one part vinegar, one part water, and cornstarch–is perfect since cornstarch is nonabrasive, and a simple water-and-vinegar mixture would dry too quickly on its own.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

Solorzano uses a concoction of one part water, one part vinegar, and one part extra-virgin coconut oil.

Furniture Polish

The Canadian Health Network provides this recipe:

Dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) of lemon oil in 1 cup (250 mL) of vegetable oil and apply with a clean rag.

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