This is one simple area where we have a great deal of control over our home environment and the planet. When we use a toilet bowl cleaner, the chemicals go down the drain into our waterways and into our environment. When we use bleach to clean the bathroom or floor, we are not only breathing the toxic gas, but there is often residue left on surfaces that the family can come in contact with. It is strange that Americans are so germ-phobic, yet tolerant of the toxic chemicals we use to kill them, which build up in our bodies and the environment for decades.
Another one of our "favorites" is "air fresheners." These fresheners do not freshen the air, in fact they do the exact opposite. They release toxic chemicals that create headaches, migraines, nausea, trigger seizures, etc. (overloading the liver with inhaled chemicals that require detoxification). Question: When did the artificially created chemical smell of "garden fresh" EVER smell like a fresh garden or remind us of one?! Fabric softeners use toxic fragrances and binders such as toluene and are know neurotoxins.
Be careful of fancy marketing – companies are using phrases like "scented oil" or "lavender" to have you believe they are natural essential oils when they are not. However, there are many companies and products that provide safe and healthy alternatives. If it's good for the environment (living things), it's more likely to be good for humans (another group of living things). You can usually buy one or a couple general products to meet many cleaning needs. Seventh Generation, Ecover, and many other natural products can be found in natural food stores.
You can use inexpensive ingredients found around the house to make cleaning supplies that are much less expensive than the arsenal of products corporations would like you to purchase: toilet bowl sanitizer, mildew cleaner, soap scum remover, floor polish, furniture polish, floor cleaner, pan cleanser, oven cleaner, window cleaner, kitchen counter sanitizer, spot removers, drain cleaner…the list goes on and on. So when people tell me that natural products are more expensive, I'm stunned in disbelief. Homemade cleaners, as well as one or two well chosen natural products, can meet all of your cleaning needs at a much lower cost than common other commercial products.
With a little elbow grease, you can keep the home and environment clean.
EPA's website on toxic cleaning products and ingredients and safe and healthy alternatives.
More on perfumes, fragrances and air fresheners: