We think of air pollution as being outdoors, spewing out of factory chimneys. But the air inside a home can be polluted, too. What’s even more shocking is that your efforts to keep your surroundings clean might be causing toxic indoor air.
Before World War II, households were kept clean with relatively safe substances. It wasn’t until after the war ended that manufactured petroleum-based chemicals found their way into products that were custom designed to clean specific surfaces around a home. While those products have been advertised by cute cartoon bubbles, animated muscle-bound men and smiling young homemakers, some are actually quite toxic. Surfaces can sparkle after these products have been squirted on and wiped off, but the air surrounding your countertops, windows, mirrors and toilets will be chemically polluted, despite the fact that your home might smell like roses or pine trees.
But don’t despair! You can return to a simpler, less toxic life. Here are some tried and true cleaning products that are less noxious and, as a bonus, far less expensive. Most can be used for more than one job, so you’ll have fewer products taking up valuable cupboard space and less packaging to dispose of.
- Replace commercial “sink, tub and tile” cleaner with a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup white vinegar.
- If you want a spray cleaner to clean shower walls, try mixing 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water in a non aerosol spray bottle. For really stubborn soap scum, heat that one-to-one vinegar-water mixture, apply it to your bathtub ring or shower walls, wait 10 minutes, then scrub and rinse. The heat, along with the acidity of the vinegar, should soften soap scum and loosen hard water deposits.
- For routine toilet cleaning, undiluted white vinegar can be used instead of a commercial bowl cleaner.
- For more stubborn toilet stains, pour 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup vinegar into the toilet and let sit for a half hour before scrubbing.
- Pour a can of Coca Cola into the toilet and leave that sit for an hour, then brush. The carbonic, citric, and phosphoric acids in the Coke will break down stains.