For years now in my own home, I've been trying to replace conventional cleaning products with less harmful products. The phosphates and surfectants commonly used in conventional cleaners are terrible for our water system, and I doubt they're good for me. Thankfully, increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly cleaning products has made safer alternatives more available. What I've noticed, though, is that, as more products become available, it gets harder to determine which products are legitimately environmentally friendly. There's lots of pretty blue-and-green-with-fluffy-clouds packaging out there, but to be really sure you're getting a safe product, you have to read the ingredients carefully and know what you're looking for (or not looking for).
In my experience, legit environmentally friendly cleaning products are a little more expensive than their conventional counterparts. In many cases, I'm willing to pay. I've also begun to realize, however, that I can take some matters into my own hands with natural ingredients I have in my kitchen cupboards. And my latest favourite discovery is the one I rebelled against as a kid each time my Mom asked me to clean the bathroom.
I got most of these ideas from an early incarnation of the Reader's Digest book Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, which I picked up at a used bookstore years ago. It's a very handy book and lists a zillion other uses for vinegar.
Now, I'll admit: cleaning with vinegar doesn't smell awesome, and I definitely crack a window while I'm cleaning. But I so much prefer it to the cough-inducing scents and mysterious nasty air particles left by commercial cleaning products.
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Jane Hogeterp Koopman
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