Climate for Action: Spring Cleaning

About the Author: Loreal Crumbley, a senior at George Mason University, is an intern with EPA’s Environmental Education Division through EPA’s Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

For many of you, spring cleaning is just around the corner. I don’t know about you but my family has already begun cleaning our home. Washing windows, dusting, cleaning pipes, washing and packing away winter necessities are just a few things families do when cleaning.

We all use household cleaners, solvents and detergents. Most household shelves are filled with toxic substances. Ordinary household cleaners and solvents contain materials that can pollute our air and water systems. These materials contain acids, volatile organic compounds (VOC), lye, and other toxic chemicals. The release of these toxic chemicals into our environment can cause air pollution, as well as soil and groundwater damage. Contaminating our air and water can threaten human health and other organisms living in our environment.

We can limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are released into our environment by changing how we clean our homes. To begin non-toxic cleaning, you should use natural methods to clean your home. Some examples are:

  • Baking soda is frequently used to reduce the effects of odors in water and in the air. Many use baking soda to freshen-up carpets and as air fresheners. It can also be used when cleaning kitchens, bathrooms and windows.
  • Vinegar and lemon juice can be used to clean scum and grime off of dishes. They are also good when cleaning copper or brass objects. Vinegar can be used when cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, floors and appliances.
  • Bar soaps can be used in the place of bleaches, ammonias, and detergents. When doing laundry these detergents can be harmful to our environment and sometimes cause allergies and skin irritation. Bars soaps are less toxic and can reduce allergies and skin irritation.
  • Hang drying your clothes can be an alternative to using a dryer. Chemically loaded fabric softeners are sometimes used in dryers; hang drying can eliminate this as well as reducing the amount of energy you use in your home.

These are just a few tips to non-toxic cleaning around the home. I’m sure lots of you have your own special home recipes that you use. Please let me know; we all need to reduce the amount of toxics that we release into the environment.

Remember it is our job to keep our environment healthy and beautiful!! Keeping our environment clean and safe will protect the earth and our health!