I’m always appalled by the toxicity of our everyday products, and none might be more toxic than our packaged household cleaners. Not only does your skin absorb these chemicals on contact (always wear rubber gloves when using cleaners!), but they leave lingering chemical scents that we now associate with “clean” but are actually toxic air pollutants.
Our standard cleaning brands — from 409 to Chlorox to Pine Sol, et al — are full of chemicals designed to kill bacteria and dissolve grease and grime. They arrive bearing heady loads of artificial fragrances to encourage you to sniff deeply and bring those chemical molecules down deep into the crevices of your lung tissue where they can affect your thyroid and hormones, cause cancer or reproductive issues, and contribute to respiratory problems like asthma.
My favorite all-around cleaning solution is white vinegar. I pour some vinegar into a spray bottle and then fill it with water (about a 1-to-9 ratio). I keep this mixture handy to clean counters and tabletops as well as linoleum and wood floors. I also use vinegar to remove offensive smells from jars and rust stains on porcelain.
Rodale offers easy recipes for more natural household cleaners made with vinegar, baking soda, borax, and essential oils.