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Items Hiding in Your Kitchen Cabinets to Use as Alternatives to Toxic Cleaners

Cleaning products are not required to list their ingredients, making it difficult to ascertain which ones are actually environmentally safe.

Additionally, phrases such as biodegradable, fragrance free, and nontoxic are not regulated, meaning that consumers must rely on the companies' definitions and ethics. However, there are some techniques that can be used to identify safer products.

Phosphates wash into streams and lakes, where they cause algae to grow in excess, depleting the dissolved oxygen fish need to live. Look for products labeled phosphate-free. Also look for products in packages made from post-consumer recycled material.

Common and safe household items can also be used as cleansers. For example, furniture polish can be made from one part olive oil and one part vinegar. If you need to disinfect a surface, it can be wiped down with Isopropyl Alcohol.

Associated Content May 11, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

It's best to avoid using any dangerous chemicals in your home. But until the self-cleaning bathroom becomes a reality, you are left with the practical challenge of selecting effective yet safe cleaning agents that won't poison you or your family with harmful chemicals.

Fortunately, you can make some of your cleaners from common household items without much effort at all. Baking soda is an ideal means to absorb odors in your refrigerator, and it's a safe non-scratch scrub for metals and porcelain too. If you need something with a bit more scouring action, my personal favorite is Bon Ami, great stuff.

Cleaning mirrors and windows is as easy as creating a mixture of a quarter-cup of white vinegar per quart of water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture if windows or mirrors are really dirty, but be very careful not to use any that contain harmful antibacterial substances.

Baking soda and vinegar are also a great way to solve minor clogs, while making a vinegar-water mix for ice, and letting it get chopped by your disposal, can rid your garbage disposal of old food smells too. And, don't forget, if you're still using air fresheners because you like the way they smell, consider safer alternatives like therapeutic essential oils.

Although be sure to bear in mind that essential oils are not the same thing as fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are artificially created and often contain synthetic chemicals -- so be sure that the essential oil you use is of the highest quality and is 100 percent pure.

Wild Oats also ran an interesting article on natural cleaning agents. If the natural ones aren't cuting it for you then you will want to go to a local health food store, Wild Oats or Whole Foods and make a healthy choice there.

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