Real Solutions: Spring Cleaning
It’s time for spring cleaning, and I’ve learned that some of my favorite cleaning products can be toxic. What’s a good alternative?– M.R., Dover, VT
Common household cleaners that contain chlorine, ammonia, and petroleum-based chemicals may contribute to respiratory problems, release harmful fumes, irritate allergies and chemical sensitivities, and burn skin or eyes on contact. Also, many commercial products such as drain, oven, and toilet-bowl cleaners may be hazardous to the environment.
You can find nontoxic cleaners in health food stores, but they tend to be expensive. The safest and cheapest alternative is to make your own with household ingredients. Here are two recipes for good all-purpose cleaners:
Combine 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1/4 cup of baking soda in 1/2 gallon of water. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle (works on windows too).
Combine 2 tablespoons of liquid vegetable-based soap (such as castile) with 1/4 cup of baking soda or 1 teaspoon of borax in 1 gallon of hot water. Use it on floors, walls, woodwork, and counters.
— Polly Bannister, Yankee Home Editor
This time of year my yard is colorless and dull-looking. Can you suggest a few ways to make it more interesting? — B.D., Providence, RI