Hello, My name is Michelle C. Smith and I am formally addicted to bleach. I used it in my laundry and I used on every one of my hard surfaces. I was convinced it kept my family healthy. From the research I have done on germs (partly to help my germaphobia), I have learned germs help our autoimmune system become stronger. I have also read so much about the horrible impact bleach and its manufacturing process has on our environment.
Dioxins- have you ever heard of them? They are one of the most toxic chemicals known to our planet.
Without giving you a boring chemistry lesson... "Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants" and they are a by-product of the manufacturing of bleach. Do dioxins cause cancer. YES. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, dioxins are a "multigrain carcinogen in animals. Target organs include the liver, thyroid, lung, skin, and soft tissues." That sounds scary. And it is, because dioxins are found in our food. More than 90% of human exposure is through food. It's mostly found in our meat. dairy, fish and shellfish.
Bleach is caustic and corrosive. But the real problem is how it's made. Bleach manufacturers often release the solution in water and other industrial waste. It eventually gets in the water system which harms aquatic life and can mix with other organic compounds and create more harmful toxins.
Bleach is in or contributes to the manufacturing of about 15,000 products. It's a big deal. So let's stop using it.
It's hard to read about ideas and facts that make us question what we thought to be true. When I first started reading about all this information more than 15 years ago, it made me start questioning a lot of what I thought was the truth. It’s hard for some people to question things. It makes you question more things. It has a domino effect. I find that once people learn about the real harmful effects that bleach has on us as people, as a human race, on our ecological system.... they change a lot of other aspects of their lives. It can be frightening. I don't even think that word captures the true feeling, but it's hard to think about how some tiny chemicals can wreak havoc on our environment and nobody seems to be talking about it.
How does this information about bleach and how it affects us make YOU feel?
Need bleach alternatives? Find them here.
Many of us fancy ourselves expert cleaners. Most of us learned from our mothers and they learned from their mothers before them. Cleaning tips and tricks have been passed down for generations. What we don’t know is that there are cleaning mistakes that we make every day. We just don’t realize we are doing them!
Here are just a few cleaning mistakes we are probably making daily. It doesn’t mean we aren’t good housekeepers. It just means that we can learn something new every day!
1. Spraying window cleaner directly on the window
A lot of people are guilty of this one. When you are cleaning windows or sliders, you probably spray window cleaner right on the window. Most people spray the cleaner evenly from top to bottom. They then thoroughly wipe the window with their paper towel or cloth.
The mistake you are making is spraying the cleaner directly on the window. You should actually spray the cleaner on your cloth. Then, wipe the entire surface. When you are done, dry it with a clean cloth. You will find you can clean the entire surface using a lot less cleaning product.
2. Putting wet toilet brush away
Cleaning a toilet is probably your least favorite chore. But, it has to be done. Like the rest of us, you probably use a toilet brush and a cleanser often with bleach in it.
Using bleach is not the problem here (although there are many safer, chemical-free alternatives that may be a better option, especially if you have children or pets in the house, such as a blend of distilled white vinegar and baking soda). The problem is that we put the brush into a dirty toilet. We then scrub the bowl with that brush. The worst thing you can do is put the brush away as soon as you’re done.
Think about where that brush was. Think about what kind of scum it was scrubbing. What you want to do is use the brush to scrub the bowl using your chosen toilet cleaner. Then, flush the toilet. Once the bowl fills with clean water, rinse the brush off in the clean water.
Before you put the brush back in its holder, let it sit for about five minutes. You want it to be somewhat dry before you put it away. If you put a toilet brush away wet, it becomes a petri dish for bacteria.
3. Don’t use bleach
For many people, bleach is their ‘go to’ cleaner; it’s powerful, it’s quick, and it can handle some pretty tough stains. But bleach isn’t as good as we think. In fact, not only can it be quite dangerous (particularly upon direct contact with the skin, or if inhaled), but it’s also not great for some specific types of stain, such as rust stains which can actually become tougher to remove if they’ve been treated with bleach.
Using an all-purpose cleaner in the kitchen is fine, but if you’re interested in trying some safe cleaning methods in other parts of your home that really work, there are quite a few natural ingredients that are surprisingly effective.
For caked on dirt and grime, salt is an excellent abrasive and works to gently scrub away any dried food or mud from surfaces. And the acidity in lemon juice is brilliant at lifting stains and sanitizing areas… it can even mimic bleach by gently fading stains on cloths, simply squeeze a little lemon juice onto the fabric and leave to dry in the sun.
If you’re missing the classic cleaner smell, try adding a few drops of essential oils to your natural cleaning products to make your home seem fresher.
4. Scrubbing carpet spills
When we see someone spill juice or wine on our carpet, we cringe. We are tempted to take a rag and scrub the stain immediately. This is abig cleaning mistake – and one that can cause permanent damage to your carpet.
Scrubbing carpet spills can tear or twist the carpet fiber. It can also cause the stain to spread. Chances are, you won’t be able to fix either of these issues.
There is a better way to clean carpet spills. Rather than scrub the spill with a rag, try the following:
- Blot the spill with a paper towel. Don’t use a cloth rag – it can worsen the stain.
- Test your carpet stain remover in a discreet spot - don’t use it on your open carpet until you know it’s safe (better yet, try spraying it with MamaSuds All-Purpose Cleaner or Castile Soap!)
- Once you test the carpet cleaner, apply it to the affected area
- Follow the instructions on your cleaner to determine if you need to blot after application
If you follow these steps, you will manage to get the stain out without ruining your carpet.
5. Vacuuming while there’s still dusting to do
When we’re cleaning, we are tempted to work one room at a time. We tend to clean and dust one room and then vacuum that room. Once we’re done one room, we move on to the next. However, you should wait to vacuum until you are done dusting the entire level of your house.
When you dust and clean chandeliers and ceiling fans, you cause dust to blow around. This dust will settle on your furniture and floors. If you dust after you vacuum, you will be soiling your floors all over again.
The best way to clean is to first clean all ceiling fixtures. Then dust and polish furniture. After this is all done, then it is safe to vacuum. By this time, any dust and debris that is going to fall to the floor has already settled. If you vacuum last, you ensure that your house will be in tip top shape.
6. Putting the silverware in the dishwasher in the same direction
When loading the dishwasher, we all have our own style. Some people face all the plates one way. Other people insist on putting their silverware face down. One mistake many people make is having their silverware all face in the same direction.
If you put your spoons, knives and forks in the same direction, they end up getting in their own way. One fork blocks the next one from getting clean, and so on.
The best way to load your silverware is to put every other piece in an opposite direction. If you do this, each piece can be hit by the jet streams and get totally clean.
We all like to keep a nice home. We pride ourselves on being good homemakers. However, nobody is perfect. We can all learn a thing or two when it comes to cleaning. Follow the above guidelines the next time you attack your household chores:
- Don't spray cleaners directly on the surface – spray it on a rag
- Do not put a wet toilet brush away
- Don’t use bleach unless absolutely necessary
- Do not scrub carpet spills – blot and treat
- Vacuum last
- Stagger your silverware
Anita Edwards is a professional writer and editor. She works as blog editor at Spekless, where she shares her own and her colleagues' tips for cleaning. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and going on day trips with her children.
47% of households in the USA have dampness or mold problems, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science. Mold in a home is a nuisance, due to its musty odor and unappealing appearance. Exposure to mold and damp environments may cause a variety of health problems, such as throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, coughing or wheezing and even skin irritation. Children are even more susceptible to mold-related infections. Chemical options to get rid of the mold, such as bleach are effective, but toxic when mixed with other household cleaning agents. Instead, opting for a safer option like a vegan handmade all-purpose cleaner for removing mold, is not only environmentally conscious but also gentle to your hands and non-toxic.
Nonetheless, you can clean mold using everyday products that are just as safe. Below are proven ways to get rid of mold in your home without bleach.
Tea tree oil
The ideal conditions for the growth of mold as a fungus include damp, poorly lit and poorly ventilated surfaces. Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide which makes it the ideal cleaning agent for areas infested with mold. Other medicinal benefits of tea tree oil prove that it is not only good for cleaning mold, but also as a safe household cleaner and for eczema - a mold-related allergy. This essentially means it is good for your skin or people with allergies and asthma. Cleaning mold using tea tree oil also leaves your home with a sweet medicinal fragrance. Spray a mixture of 10 drops of tea tree oil and water on the surface and wipe after it sits for a while.
Vinegar or vodka
Vinegar is a natural antimicrobial and antioxidant substance, whose acetic acid has a pH of 2.4. Such a pH level makes it ideal for cleaning mold, as a more acidic substance gets rid of a less acidic one. Vodka is also another common natural solution for getting rid of mold, though more alkaline than vinegar. Grabbing a cheap bottom shelf bottle works the best, making it less expensive. For either of the two, you want to pour them pure into a spray bottle, spritz over the mold surface, let it sit for a while and clean with a sponge. Spraying the surface after cleaning without wiping it off should permanently get rid of the mold problem. While at it, you should also learn a bit more about DIY cleaning with vinegar in your home.
The best way to permanently rid your house of mold is to identify the actual cause and curb its thriving conditions. Cleaning and drying those damp surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, getting rid of stale foods, and getting a dehumidifier should prevent hyphae from spreading. If you already have mold, then a bottle of tea tree oil, vinegar or vodka should clean just fine.
Contribution by freelance writer Sally Preston