Constant sneezing, headaches, burning or itchy eyes, shortness of breath. If you’ve ever felt like you had allergies after a full day of cleaning, it may have been more than the dust. Conventional cleaning products may have been the culprit. Many of these products (all purpose cleaners, bleach, air fresheners, glass cleaners, etc.) are allergens and highly toxic to people and the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the typical home is on average 2-5 times more polluted than the air just outside (and in extreme cases, 100 times more contaminated) largely because of household cleaners and pesticides. The fumes created from combining bleach and ammonia can be deadly.

Clean up your act by using natural cleaning products. Although these products have been ineffective in the past, there are now some good ones on the market. And although they can be a bit pricey, the long-term benefits for your health and the planet may be well worth it.

Here are a few things you may have in your pantry now that you can use to make your own cleaning products:

  1. White distilled vinegar: undiluted vinegar kills mold, bacteria and germs due to high acidity levels.
  2. Baking soda: its mild abrasive action and natural deodorizing properties make it a powerful replacement for harsh commercial scouring powders
  3. Lemon juice: neutralizes hard water deposits, dissolves buildup of dirt on wood and tarnish on silver

Here’s a quick recipe that is easy to make and fun to use:

Natural Scouring Cleaner

1 part Vinegar
1 part Baking Soda
5 drops of citrus essential oil (optional)

Use it to clean the tub and shower, a stained coffee pot, a greasy or a grimy stovetop. It cleans completely, leaving nothing behind but a clean, shiny surface. Fill an empty spray bottle with distilled white vinegar and essential oils, spray a generous amount on desired surface, then1 sprinkle with baking soda. Clean immediately or leave on several minutes for heavy cleaning jobs.

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