Among the primary satisfactions of buying a new construction home is the opportunity to determine and direct the maintenance activities from the very beginning. You’re in control not only of where and when the cleaning is done but which materials are used. Eco-conscious homeowners, aiming to create an indoor environment that is safe for children, pets, the elderly and the otherwise sensitive, might take particular satisfaction in knowing they can be sure no toxic cleaning chemicals are ever employed in their abode.
When it comes to green cleaning, one can easily be taken in. According to experts, many products that are hyped as environmentally friendly may be marginally less toxic than more conventional solutions.
It is possible to keep your home truly free of chemical cleaning agents. According to Theresa Peterson, owner of Quality Cleaning Maid to Order in Fremont, you can sanitize, degrease, and remove spots and spills using a few easy-to-find agents.
Lemon juice or vinegar“The chemistry of cleaning is based on acids or alkalis,” says Peterson, “Lemon juice and vinegar are both acids (which) are used to cut grease and mineral deposits and things like that.”
Baking soda“Baking soda is effective for a couple of different reasons,” she instructs. “One, it is an alkali; and two, it is a mild abrasive. It can be used to cut the carbon deposits in your oven,” as an example.
Lemon juice or vinegar combined with baking soda can make an effective cleaner for stove tops, faucets and fixtures.
Hydrogen peroxideAccording to Peterson, the extra oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide — that which distinguishes its chemical formula from water — bursts the cell walls of bacteria. “That’s what kills them, and then when it’s done working, it breaks down into water and oxygen” to be rinsed or wiped away.
She recommends hydrogen peroxide “for countertops and anything you need to disinfect. For the interior of the refrigerator, use it … straight or diluted by half.”
SteamFor deeper cleaning of hard surfaces, she favors steam. “The steam is … so hot that it’s actually a dry vapor,” she reports. Steam cleaning devices are commonly available for rent or purchase online or at retail establishments.
Castile soapAccording to Peterson, this age-old solution holds its own against more modern formulations.
“It’s very non-toxic and something that you would use everyday. We would recommend (it) for your hands, your hair … everything,” she notes.
Castile soap works well “for every day cleanups — minor spills and things like that,” she says.
It can also be combined with baking soda to create an effective cleanser.
“We would recommend for any scrubbing, like say, in the sinks or the tubs or anything else, a mixture of Castile soap and baking soda. You mix it into the consistency of a frosting, kind of like icing, and you put a little bit on your sponge and scrub.”
Microfiber cloth“Microfiber towels are actually scientifically proven to pick up bacteria to the smallest degree without the use of any chemicals,” advises Peterson. “It hooks onto the bacteria and pulls it up.”
Look for what are termed split microfiber cloths.
According to a UCSF Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit Report, “When microfibers are split, they are 200 times thinner than a single human hair. These split microfibers become much more absorbent. They can remove large quantities of microbes, including hard-to-kill spores.”
How can you tell if your cloth is split microfiber? Try to push a water spill across a table or countertop. If the water is not quickly absorbed, the cloth is not split microfiber. In fact, according to the UCSF report, a microfiber cloth can absorb seven times its weight in water.
What’s more, the fibers contain a positive charge which attracts negatively charged dirt and grease. “These characteristics of microfiber allow you to clean surfaces without chemicals,” according to the report.
Moreover, microfiber dries faster than cotton which means bacteria does not have a chance to develop. Finally, the report sites a recent study that demonstrated “that a microfiber mop head used with a detergent cleaner removed bacteria as effectively as a cotton mop head used with a disinfectant.”
Peterson recommends using dampened microfiber pads for floors and walls and dry ones for furniture and electronics.
Of course, the towels themselves need to be kept clean to be effective.
“You can wash them in Castile soap and add … vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them,” she advises.
Rubbing alcoholSomewhat surprisingly, Peterson advocates using rubbing alcohol to clean windows. “Alcohol will cut the grime,” she reports. Otherwise, for windows, she says you can use water with a bit of cornstarch or a bit of Castile soap.
Keeping your home clean without the use of toxic cleaning chemicals can provide a sense of satisfaction. Common household agents will allow you to eliminate dirt, dust and germs while at the same time maintaining a healthy indoor environment for family and friends.
Source: East Bay Sponsored: Cleaning your home: Start green, stay green