The average American uses approximately 40 pounds of non-natural household cleaners each year. These products often contain dangerous ingredients, including neurotoxins, carcinogens, allergens, central nervous system depressants, heavy metals, and other agents that cause or contribute to cancer, respiratory problems, reproductive abnormalities, allergic reactions, and behavioral problems, among other issues. Aside from the immediate problems they can cause to individuals, these products also find their way into the environment by being poured downt he sink or toilet, sprayed into the air, thrown in the trash, or otherwise make their way to the landfill where they are either incinerated in left to release their toxins into the ground, air and water. Some examples of concerns with non-natural cleaners include: algae blooms, caused by phosphates (found in dish and laundry detergents), kill fish and aquatic plants and release toxins that poison drinking water; furniture polishes contain napthas and mineral spirits which are neurotoxins; formaldehyde, which is also found in furniture polish and other cleaners, is a known carcinogen for both animals and humans; another ingredient found in furniture polish is phthalates which disrupt hormone function and can cause genetic defects in both animals and humans; and sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide, found in drain cleaners, can change the pH of the water and kill fish. There are many other "ingredients" that are harmful to the planet as well.
Switching to natural cleaners helps the environment, makes your home safer, and save money as well. Many cleaners can be made right at home with just a few simple ingredients. Here are some to try:
Homemade cleanser (similar to Soft Scrub): Combine 1 2/3 cups baking soda with 1/2 cup of liquid soap. Add 1/2 c of water and 2 Tbsp of vinegar. Stir with a fork until smooth. Pour into a squeeze bottle and keep covered. Shake well before using.
Furniture polish: Use mineral oil on a soft, clean rag. Alternatively, you can mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part white distilled vinegar and add a few drops of natural lemon oil.
All Purpose cleaner: Dissolve 4 Tbsps baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Straight vinegar is also good for removing mildew, grease, and wax and is a good deodorizer.
Window cleaner: Use plain club soda and a coffee filter or crumpled newspaper to wipe with.
Drain cleaner: Pour ½ cup baking soda down drain, add ½ cup white vinegar, and cover the drain. Wait 15 minutes and then pour 1 gallon of hot water down the drain.
Toilet bowl cleaner: Mix ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into toilet, let set for 5 minutes, then scrub with brush.
For homemade laundry detergent, you can find 10 different "recipes" for it here.
For those of you who prefer to buy natural cleaners, try companies like: Seventh Generation, Sun & Earth, and Mia Rose.