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E-M:/ Non-Toxic cleaning, etc.

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

There is a wonderful source of non-toxic cleaning aids -- "The Natural Formula
Book for Home and Yard" by Rodale Press.  I'll include a few suggestions
from this book that I regularly use, but would suggest that anyone serious
about trying to cut out the toxics in cleaning get hold of it.  As someone who
is extremely sensitive to the smell of most commercial cleaning agents (as in
getting extremely sick and having to leave the house in which they have been
used) I found it essential to figure how to clean without ammonia, chlorine
bleach and those petrochemical "scrubbing bubbles" etc.  This book provides
many of the best ideas I have seen.

A few samples (leaving out proportions):  The book uses washing soda
extensively, and I have found this a very useful addition to my cupboard.
Drains can be kept clear by using washing soda dissolved in hot water and
washed down slow (not clogged) drains, followed by hot water to flush.  Also,
a prewash with washing soda is often enough to offset not using bleach for

For blocked drains, the good old science experiment of baking soda and white
vinegar come into play, along with salt. Pour these down a blocked drain, let
it sit for a while to do its work, then follow with a chaser of boiling water.

Copper pots can be polished using lemon juice or vinegar and salt.

Borax is a good cleansing powder for porcelain, although it may take some
more muscle than the ones with bleach.

If you have hard water, filling your sink with white vinegar and water and
letting it dissolve the build up of minerals is an easy and usually effective
way to get rid of this stuff.  This is also good for cleaning shower heads
that have become blocked with mineral buildup -- just put the head in 
vinegar and water. Or you can put straight vinegar in a plastic bag, stick it
over the showerhead, rubber band it in place for a couple hours, and voila!

The other important thing to remember is that although these items are a lot
less caustic and toxic than some of what can be bought in stores today, they
are not benign and should be used appropriately. Also, the book uses chlorine
bleach or ammonia in some formulations, but at least you can choose not to use
those items and try some others as well.

I am also delighted to find an increasing number of commercial cleaning
products made in environmentally sound ways with non-toxic materials at our
local food co-op.  While they are still more expensive than what you'll find
at the supermarket, these products often work as well or better than the all
American, petrochemical goops, and they are more concentrated so they go
farther than the same size container. Also, I figure this is a GOOD investment
in the future, as well as in the liveability of my own house.

Anne Woiwode

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