As winter ends and temperatures rise, people engage in the age-old tradition of spring cleaning – it’s a time to bring in fresh air and get rid of the gunk that’s accumulated over the last few months.
We all want a clean home, but cleaning well doesn’t have to mean using the harsh chemicals found in many cleaners. Homemade natural cleaners are safe to use around kids and pets while being just as effective at getting rid of dirt and grime. And some store-bought cleaners are safer to use than others.
Here are some tips for making or buying safer cleaners and disposing of hazardous cleaning supplies.
Making safer cleaners
You can make non-toxic cleaners at home with safer ingredients. These cleaners are better for you and your family, better for the air in your home and better for the environment.
Natural cleaners are safe and easy to make – and more affordable than many store-bought products. All you need to start are ingredients like vegetable oil-based soap and vinegar. Here is a recipe for a basic all-purpose spray cleaner using natural ingredients:
All-purpose spray cleaner
This cleaner is great for countertops and other surfaces, it’s tough on dirt and bacteria while being gentle for our health.
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon liquid vegetable oil-based soap
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake before use. Add lemon juice, orange peels or essential oils for a fresh scent. If using on windows or mirrors, leave out the liquid soap for a streak-free shine.
Buying safer cleaners
When deciding which cleaner to use, look for the signal word on the product label. Signal words help to show the hazards associated with cleaning products and can be used by shoppers to find the least toxic products.
Products labeled, “danger,” “poison” and “warning” are hazardous to people, pets or the environment. Products with no signal word or those labeled, “caution” are a safer alternative.
Metro recommends choosing products with the Safer Choice, Green Seal or Ecologo certification, which have been tested and proven to be safer for human health and the environment.
Not all cleaning or disinfecting products are submitted for certification – when in doubt, stick to products with no signal words or those labeled, “caution.”
Disposing of cleaners you no longer want
Unused cleaning products should never be disposed of in household garbage, poured down a drain or emptied outdoors. Use them up if you can, otherwise, know where to take them for safe disposal.
Take old cleaning products and other household hazardous waste – like batteries – to a Metro hazardous waste facility or neighborhood collection event. It is free to drop off these materials and helps keep the garbage and recycling system running safely.