When it comes to housework, you already know to shun harmful chemicals found in many typical cleaning products. But the following “natural cleaning” mistakes should be on your radar, too!
1 Believing “natural” products won’t damage fabrics and/or surfaces.
Even if a product is labeled “nontoxic,” the ingredients in it can still react with the material or surface it’s applied to. Always check the label for usage instructions. And be sure to test any product you want to use on a delicate surface (like natural stone, for example) in an inconspicuous place first.
2 Using bleach or other chlorine products.
While associating that familiar chlorine smell with “clean” may be tempting, it would be better to replace that thought with “deadly.” Chlorine can kill germs it’s true, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s dangerous for all living cells, and can burn skin and eyes.
3 Using disposable wipes and paper towels.
Using a high-quality microfiber cloth and water to tackle your household chores not only saves you money over time, it’s much more planet-friendly. For example, did you know that up to 51,000 trees a day are used to manufacture the amount of paper towels discarded in the U.S. alone in just one day? Or that the antibacterial alcohol in disposable wipes also kills the bacteria and enzymes that break down solid waste in landfill sites and septic tanks? In addition, the combination of plastics, wood pulp and cotton in disposable mop pads and wipes resists breaking down and can remain in the sewers and seas for years.
4 Not being aware of the “hazards of homemade.”
Creating your own cleaning products from ingredients you have on hand—say in your pantry or your cupboards—can be a great money-saver and also help reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals found in typical cleaning products. However, there are some things to be aware if you decide to create your own cleaners:
- Failure to dilute lemon juice, vinegar, or other natural cleaners as directed can increase the risk of damage to a surface. Most cleaning jobs call for only a very dilute solution to work. If you’re making your own cleaning products, make sure you trust the source of the recipe.
- Making too much. While many natural cleaning solutions will be effective for a whole month, some ingredients, like hydrogen peroxide, can lose their potency quickly. To be sure your formula is effective, mix up just enough for a single use.
- Be careful when mixing products or ingredients. Combining incompatible products or ingredients can produce dangerous gases or render the solution inert and ineffective. It’s best to use just one—the most gentle—product for the job.