For the past several weeks, I have been sharing some affordable, non-toxic cleaning alternatives that you can use to reduce the toxins in your home. Before I move on, I want to discuss one more widely used conventional cleaner that is particularly dangerous: chlorine bleach.
What makes bleach so dangerous? The fact that gloves and a mask should be worn while using it is a big red flag that it is probably not something you want polluting the air inside your home. It is especially not something you should be using to disinfect children’s toys, which is unfortunately a popular practice. Bleach is a strong corrosive material that irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, making it especially harmful for asthma and allergy sufferers. It is also thought to be a neurotoxin, and is extremely dangerous when mixed with other chemicals, although it is used in about 15,000 cleaning products on the market today. When mixed with ammonia, it creates a particularly dangerous gas, which is why you should never use it to clean your toilet. And, when chlorine is mixed with dish soap, it produces sulfur mustard, or “mustard gas” – a chemical warfare agent used in WWI! This is particularly disturbing, given that bleach is a common ingredient in dish washing detergents.
So, now that you know why you shouldn’t use chlorine bleach, what are your alternatives? There are many safe alternatives, in fact. For disinfecting surfaces such as your counter top, simply spraying straight vinegar, followed by spraying hydrogen peroxide (the 3% solution you can find in any pharmacy), has been found to kill almost every bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. Simply fill one spray bottle with white distilled vinegar, replace the hydrogen peroxide bottle cap with a spray nozzle, and spray both onto whatever surface you are disinfecting. According to www.mercola.com, this is thought to be 10 times more effective than spraying either ingredient by itself or mixing the two together into one spray bottle. So don’t mix them! Both ingredients are so inexpensive, it’s very practical to have them underneath your kitchen and bathroom counters, so they’re always ready when you need them.
For the laundry, I have had good success with both borax and vinegar. Borax is a laundry booster and vinegar is great at preserving the color of your clothes. Using either one of those two, I’ve never found a need to use bleach in the laundry. For clothes that need some extra TLC, let them soak in either borax and water or vinegar and water for several hours before running through the wash cycle. Also, some swear by adding lemon juice instead, and then letting clothes hang dry in the sun (only do this with whites, as the sun will fade colors).
Tea tree oil is also effective against many molds and mildews, if you would like something other than vinegar to fight mildew in the bathroom. With these four simple, frugal, and effective solutions, there is no reason to not replace that toxic bleach with healthy alternatives!
What have you found to be an effective alternative to bleach?
*This post is being shared at Monday Mania.