The “Green-Clean Challenge” Begins
Some old friends called us while driving through Iowa. Could they stop and visit? “Sure,” we said. “Love to have you.” We hung up the phone, scanned the house, and looked at each other in a bit of panic. We had 30 minutes, tops, before they would be at our door.
“If you attack the bathroom,” Julia said. “I’ll handle the kitchen.”
“No problem.” I collected all my weapons: broom, dustpan, brush, mop, bucket, and rags. I felt like a soldier going off to war. Next I gathered my ammunition — the bottles of spray cleaners and disinfectants that would make me an army of one against a very nasty tub and the “toilet from hell.”
This is easy, I thought. I’ll just let those little scrubbing bubbles do all the work. I sprayed down the tub and shower walls with one solution, squirted a thick blue liquid around inside the rim of the toilet bowl, sprayed another blue liquid onto the mirrors, and topped it all off with some foamy white stuff on the sink. While they were soaking away the dirt to make my job easier, I closed the bathroom door to sweep.
I almost didn’t get out alive. My eyes began to water, and my throat began to swell. My chest hurt. I began to feel faint. Was I having a heart attack?
Gasping for air, I yanked open the bathroom door and plopped down in the hallway. It only took a few minutes to recover, but the scare stayed with me.
After our guests had come and gone, I decided to do some research. What I found was that the chemicals in my cleaners had almost done me in. I had carelessly mixed an ammonia-based cleaner with another that contained bleach.
Granted, I shouldn’t have mixed them, but this army of one had not been trained in chemical warfare. According to the Washington Toxics Coalition, the most dangerous chemicals in the world are right under our sinks. They include corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet-bowl cleaners.
I read on. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in oven, carpet, and other cleaners containing Toluene, Nitrobenzene, Chloride, Methylene, and Ethylene glycol have been shown to cause asthma, cancer, skin rashes, permanent eye damage, and serious long-term organ damage. I decided it was time for a change.
So I began searching for cleaners that advertised themselves as “organic,” “green,” “natural,” or “eco-friendly.” I’ve been collecting homemade recipes, too. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be testing them all. You’ll get my honest opinions about the products I try. I’m calling it the “Green-Clean Challenge.” Let’s find out together how well the green cleaners really work. Can they do the job as effectively as their chemical-laden rivals? Can they clean our bowls and bathtubs without cleaning our clocks?
If you have suggestions for non-toxic cleaning products you trust, please let me know. Let’s open a dialog about how to clean our homes without harming the environment — or ourselves. Share your tips for a healthy home. If we try them and like them, we’ll publish them. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gotta run. It’s my turn to clean the kitchen.
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