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Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month

BLOG-asthmaAs some people may be aware, May is “National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month”. This is most likely because May is also the peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers. Having suffered from asthma as a child growing up, I am fully aware of what molds and activities may trigger an asthma attack for me, as I’m sure most asthma sufferers are. However, many people may be unaware that the products and methods used to clean their home could also be key contributors to some allergic and/or asthmatic issues they may have.

For example, many people may not be aware that fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that traditional cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in people previously diagnosed with asthma.

If you or a family member suffer from allergies or asthma, a good defense is air quality. And, while you may not be able to control the air quality outside of your home, you can certainly do something to improve it inside. The first step to higher air quality may be as simple as switching from a traditional cleaner to a greener alternative. If you happen to use a cleaning service, make sure they use Green Seal certified cleaning products, as Clean Conscience does.


The Harmful Effects Bleach Can Have On Children

Bleach, a very common cleaning supply and one that can almost surely be found in most homes in the U.S., may be extremely harmful to your children. While most people are well aware of the dangers of ingesting bleach, or allowing it to come in contact with the eyes or skin; not everyone is aware of the potential dangers “passive exposure” to bleach may have on their children. In this article from Medical Daily, these potential dangers are discussed.

The Dangers Of Household Bleach: Kids Exposed To Cleaner May Experience Respiratory Illness, Infections

Yes, bleach can be quite dangerous if ingested by a child — but a new study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine suggests that even just “passive exposure” to the chemical in the home is associated with a higher chance of childhood respiratory illness and other infections.

The researchers examined over 9,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 throughout 19 schools in the Netherlands, 17 schools in Finland, and 18 schools in Barcelona, Spain. They measured their levels of exposure to bleach, then attempted to test the negative impact it had on their health. Parents were asked to complete questions about the frequency of their children’s flu, tonsilitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, otitis, and pneumonia during the past 12 months. They were also asked whether they had used bleach in some way to clean their homes once a week.

Interestingly, the authors found that nearly 72 percent of respondents from Spain used bleach frequently in their homes, while only 7 percent of Finnish households did. Spanish schools, meanwhile, were cleaned with bleach regularly while Finnish schools were not. Researchers found that the frequency of infections among children was linked to higher amounts of bleach use by parents at home — and the differences were quite evident when it came to the flu, tonsilitis, and other infections (the risk of flu was 20 percent higher in bleach households, and the risk of recurrent tonsillitis 35 percent higher in bleach households). The risk of any other infection happening again was 18 percent higher among the children exposed to bleach.

Bleach and other cleaning products might damage the lining of lung cells, causing inflammation and making it easier for infections to occur, the authors argue. Of course, it’s been known for some time that common household cleaning products aren’t meant to be inhaled or ingested; just breathing in your typical Lysol spray can make you feel dizzy or nauseous. But the study reinforces the importance of being aware of the adverse side effects of bleach and other household items.

The American Lung Association suggests sticking to soap and warm water as opposed to bleach or ammonia, as it may often do the trick just as well. For scrubbing floors or sinks, use baking soda to really get the gritty dirt out of the cracks. And vinegar mixed with water is a good glass cleaner.

“The high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products may be of public health concern, also when exposure occurs during childhood,” the authors write in their conclusion. They also noted that the frequent use of these products was often “caused by the erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes.”

Source: Casas L, Espinosa A, Borras-Santos A, Jacobs J, Krop E, Heederik D. “Domestic use of bleach and infections in children: a multicentre cross-sectional study.” Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2015.

Microfiber Cloth, the Superior Cleaning Tool

When it comes to cleaning, the tools you use are just as important as the effort you put in. If the cleaning task at hand happens to be cleaning off a counter top, mopping a floor, or other similar tasks; the best choice for doing so would be a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are far superior to the average rag when it comes to absorbency and soil removal. So, why are microfiber cloths so much more effective? Well, the good people at Town and Country Cleaning, may have the answer to that question. This article, gives four reasons why microfiber is the superior cleaning tool.


4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is Superior


What Makes Microfibers Superior For Cleaning?

They are made up of tiny split fibers that act like paddlewheels scooping up and retaining dirt and soils until they are laundered out.

Microfiber Cloth Cleaning Tips

  • It is important to use only damp, never over-wet microfiber cloths or mop heads, to avoid coating the tiny fibers with water.  Permitting that coat of water (by using wet rather than barely damp) defeats their magnetic attraction to soils and their adsorbent capacity.      (See more on cleaning floors with water.)
  • Microfiber materials can hold many times (roughly 7 to 8 times) their own weight in liquid and clean far more effectively than cotton (90+ % soil removal versus 30% for cotton).
  • TownCountryMicrofiberClothCleaning 300x191 4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is SuperiorMicrofibers are available in colors to help prevent cross-contamination.  At Town and Country Cleaning Services, we use red/orange in bathrooms only, other colors for other parts of the house.  We build in color-coding to prevent cross-contamination as we clean.  Your kitchen person may not be able to tell where a cloth came from – but if it is red/orange, they know it does NOT belong in their tray.

4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cleaning is Superior

  1. They pick up and hold dirt better and longer.
  2. They help prevent cross-contamination
  3. They launder readily and come back for more.  Town and Country Cleaning Service’s “hospital-grade” microfibers used in our residential cleans can be laundered hundreds of times – ideally with temperatures up to 160o F and dried up to that temperature as well.
  4. TownCountryCleaningwithWaterH2O 300x175 4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is SuperiorThey have been shown in a University of California – Davis study to remove debris, bacteria and viruses to at least the 99% level with pure water.  It is exciting to pursue the theory that disinfection may prove attainable with NO toxins!

Pthalates, An Ingredient to Avoid

While many people are aware that traditional cleaners may contain some ingredients that may be toxic or harmful, they may not know exactly what those ingredients are or how they can negatively effect humans or pets. This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, discusses one very common and potentially harmful ingredient found in many everyday products; pthalates. The article not only informs you on where phalates may be found, it also discusses the harm they may cause; while also giving tips on how you can avoid them.


Ingredient Intel: Phthalates

Ingredient Intel

This is the fifth installment of our ongoing series aimed to help you better understand the ingredients—both desirable and undesirable—in your home cleaning and personal care products. We arm you with information and provide a solid assessment of each ingredient so you can make educated decisions for yourself and your family.

Ingredient: Phthalates, pronounced “tha-lates.”

What It Is: A family of synthetic chemicals primarily used to soften plastic, but also used to lubricate other substances, help lotions penetrate and soften the skin, and extend the life of fragrance.

Where It’s Found: Phthalates are a widespread contaminant in America’s buildings and waterways.

  • As a plasticizer, they can be found in food packaging, beverage bottles, soft toys, vinyl floor tile, vinyl seating in cars, diaper changing and yoga mats, polymer clays, furniture, water pipes, building materials, and electronics. Most products containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl, recycling code #3) contain phthalates.
  • In household products they’re found in detergents, soaps, laundry supplies, and home decorating materials.
  • Cosmetics and personal care products contain a host of phthalates. You’ll find them in deodorants, shampoos, nail polish (where they prevent chipping), hair spray (where they prevent stiffness), perfumes, lotions, creams, and powders.
  • Phthalates are found in medical and dental devices, such as catheters, IV bags and tubes, and orthodontia supplies.

What’s the Problem?: Phthalates belong to a set of toxic chemicals called endocrine disruptors, meaning they attack the hormone system. They’ve been linked to breast cancer, abnormal development of the male reproductive system, insulin resistance, thyroid problems, infertility, reduced testosterone, asthma and allergies.

How Are You Exposed?: Because phthalates are not chemically bound to the products they’re added to, they’re continuously released into the air or food or liquid. Humans are exposed by ingestion, absorption, and inhalation. Children are especially vulnerable. Phthalates cross the placenta, so they can be passed from mother to infant in utero.


In 2002, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) tested 72 name-brand cosmetics, and found phthalates in three-quarters of them. Testing humans in 2008, CDC found the highest levels in women of childbearing age, presumably because of their use of cosmetics.

How Can You Avoid Phthalates?

  • Look for products marketed as phthalate-free.
  • Check ingredient labels. It may be listed as DBP (dibutyl phthalate), DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate), DINP (disononyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate), DEHP (di 2-ethylhexl phthalate), DIDP (diisodecyl phthalate), DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), and DnOP (di-n-octylphthalate).
  • Avoid cooking or microwaving in plastic.
  • Don’t give soft plastic toys to children or pets.
  • Choose personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that don’t have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list. Even if the label says “fragrance free” the product may still contain phthalates.
  • Paints and other hobby products may contain phthalates as a solvent, so provide plenty of ventilation when using them.
  • Vinyl shows up in a variety of products—lawn furniture, garden hoses, even raincoats.
  • Switch to a non-vinyl shower curtain.
  • Avoid most commercial air fresheners.
  • Check out the database of safe household and personal care products at, site of the Environmental Working Group.

Vinegar: Facts vs. Myths

It is no secret that vinegar is often used in many DIY cleaning jobs. Whether it used completely on its own, or coupled with something like baking soda, vinegar is a common ingredient for all kinds of tasks. The question now becomes, does it really work? What exactly is in vinegar that makes it such an effective cleaning agent? This article from Town and Country Cleaning, discusses some of the myths and facts about vinegar. Can vinegar really disinfect? Can it be used on any surface? Is it really as effective as many people claim it to be? These questions and several others are answered in the article below.


Myths and Facts about Vinegar

Myths and Facts about Vinegar


Vinegar:  Myths and Facts

Does vinegar clean?  Newspaper articles, magazines, green cleaning websites all tout vinegar as a miracle cleaner and ‘disinfectant’.  All you need they say, is to put a little household vinegar in water and voila – you have a great cleaning and disinfecting solution.  Let’s look at how well (or not) the claims stand up.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is an acidic solution with a pH of organic acids, mainly acetic, and other organic compounds, many of them volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).  It is a relatively strong acid with a pH of about 2.0 to 3.0 and is corrosive to many surfaces.

The VOC’s of vinegar have not, to the best of my knowledge, been tested for health effects, but the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS, soon to be known as Safety Data Sheet) does recommend the use of a respirator when vinegar is used in large quantities or sprayed, as it is during cleaning.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar Gets Things ‘Squeaky Clean’.

True, sometimes. In the days when all we had to clean with was true soap, the soap left an alkaline residue which had to be rinsed off. If you added an acid to the rinse water it would do a better job of rinsing, so someone added vinegar to the rinse water.  It rinsed the surface ‘squeaky clean’. Today (sixty-some years after the introduction of detergents) it is much less common but when and if you have an alkaline residue, adding vinegar to rinse water will still improve the rinse. Vinegar can also be effective in breaking up alkaline soils such as soap scum or hard-water film, but it is much less useful for other types of soil.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar Is a Disinfectant

As an acid, vinegar creates an environment that is inhospitable to many (though certainly not all) undesireable pathogens. Non-diluted vinegar has been shown to achieve kill rates as high as 90% in lab studies. However, in order to be rated as a disinfectant, it would need to achieve a kill rate of at least 99%.  Anything that would tend to neutralize its acidity, such as adding an alkaline detergent(i.e. most cleaning agents), would definitely decrease its anti-microbial qualities.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar and Water Is the Best Wood Floor Cleaner

Move in Move out Cleaning Chapel Hill NC 190 Myths and Facts about VinegarIn a word, ‘NO’!  Installers at one time would recommend (and sometimes still do) using vinegar and water for polyurethane-finished wood floors–mainly because they did NOT want oil soaps to be used.  Oil soaps had been the primary wood floor cleaner before polyurethane finishes, but they caused major problems when it came time to re-coat those same finishes.  Vinegar and water seemed a safe alternative.  It turned out that over time, the acid degraded the finish.  At the big flooring show, Surfaces, all manufacturers of wood flooring said ‘Do NOT use vinegar.”  Several said it would void their warranty.  Note: also heard at this year’s show, manufacturers of vinyl flooring are starting to say the very same thing!

Myth or Fact:  Being Sourced from Nature Means Vinegar Is Safe for All Surfaces

Don’t be fooled!  See the above note about wood and vinyl.  It can also, as is true of any acid, damage many stone surfaces, especially marble, travertine and limestone.  Even a brief second’s contact can etch these calcium-based stones.

In conclusion, vinegar can be useful as a rinse agent and even as a ‘cleaner’ in certain instances, but its uses for general cleaning and disinfection are highly overrated and misunderstood.

The Rise of Green Cleaning

Nowadays, green cleaning products can be found in just about any store, right next to traditional cleaners. In fact, some stores actually have a wider selection of green products than they do for traditional cleaners. However, this wasn’t always the case. For many years, many people were unaware of the dangers traditional cleaners could cause to people and/or the environment. Therefore, they were most likely unaware of any green alternatives, as well. So, how did green cleaning go from being a niche to mainstream? That is exactly what this article from GreenBiz, discusses. A brief history of the rise of green cleaning.

Green cleaning: The journey from niche to mainstream

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book “Silent Spring” was published. It forced the general public and members of the U.S. government to take a serious look at society’s use of chemicals and pesticides.

By the end of the decade, young people around the world took up the cause for “ecology,” as it was then called. This led to the first Earth Day in 1970, an event reflecting the much greater environmental consciousness that was spreading throughout the world.

Not long afterward, the first green cleaning products made their way onto the shelves of health food stores as the green cleaning movement began. Today, green cleaning is no longer niche, with an increasing number of certifications and other tools that have pushed it into the mainstream.

Green cleaning goes mainstream with certification

More than 20 years passed before green cleaning could make much progress in the professional cleaning industry. One key reason was a lack of standards that clearly defined what a green cleaning product is — and what it is not. Building owners and managers never were sure if the products they used were truly healthier and safer for the environment.

This began to change in 1993, when then-President Clinton signed Executive Order 12873 directing federal agencies to develop plans to purchase environmentally preferable products, which it defined as “products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.”

Importantly, the definition explained that the improvements could be made throughout the product’s life cycle, stating that the “comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, product, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance or disposal of the product or service.”

Throughout the 1990s, federal agencies, state and local governments led the green cleaning movement with the belief that it was their duty to use these affirmative procurement strategies to protect human health and the environment. But as they moved forward, they also became confronted with the sheer complexity of the issues because cleaning requires myriad products, including disinfectants, floor and carpet care products, heavy-duty degreasers and graffiti removers.

Based on the increased demand for green cleaning products came the introduction of green certification organizations, which made it easier for purchasers to identify green products and buy them with confidence.

These independent, third-party organizations are designed to protect consumers and product-users, and help manufacturers and distributors scientifically verify whether a green cleaning product has a reduced impact on the environment, compared to similar products. To earn third-party green certification and bear the ecolabel of the certification organization, products must meet, among other things, three key criteria:

1. The product has been evaluated using science-based environmental leadership standards.
2. It performs as well as or better than other products in its class based on accepted standards.
3. It has been independently certified without bias or conflict of interest.

Additional criteria, standards and attributes that may be covered by green certification include:

• Use of the product helps protect indoor air and environmental quality.
• The product is manufactured using recycled content (postconsumer/postindustrial), as well as being made from renewable, sustainable resources.
• The product does not contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or other ozone-depleting substances.
• The product is recyclable and biodegradable.

Green cleaning in the 21st century

Today, green cleaning continues to evolve and grow. In fact, one of the most significant events in the movement just recently went into effect. The U.S. Green Building Council and its members have adopted the latest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification rating system, LEED v4.

One big change requires the use of environmentally preferable cleaning products instead of receiving optional LEED credits for green cleaning products. LEED v4 also requires that facilities increase purchases of green cleaning chemicals, paper products, plastic liners and similar items from 30 percent to 75 percent. It also doubles the required purchases of green cleaning equipment, such as high-air-filtration vacuum cleaners, from 20 percent to 40 percent.

In addition, new compliance options give cleaning product manufacturers, janitorial service providers and facility managers more flexibility and options.

Besides EcoLogo/UL Environment and Green Seal, previously the only certification bodies recognized for LEED certification, v4 now also recognizes the EPA’s Design for the Environment program.

Cleaning Industry Management Standard-Green Buildings and GS-42, Green Seal’s standard for commercial and institutional cleaning, have been added as options to meet the green cleaning prerequisite.

The new version encourages innovation with the use of devices that turn ordinary tap water into an effective cleaning solution, completely eliminating the environmental impacts associated with the production and packaging of cleaning chemicals.

Greater emphasis is placed on conserving energy and water in janitorial cleaning activities, as well as for on-premise laundry and kitchen operations.

However, LEED v4 is not the only major change affecting the professional cleaning industry. Others include the following:

Ecolabels: Selecting green cleaning products used to be a challenge. With the advent of certification, standards and ecolabels, buyers have been given more tools to choose appropriate products. However, the EPA believes it can be difficult for purchasers to tell which ecolabels and standards are authentic and appropriate.

To help, the EPA recently announced the publication of Draft Guidelines for Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement. While the guidelines are designed to help federal purchasers, they also may help other public sector and private sector markets that rely on ecolabels and standards to make purchasing decisions. Some manufacturers in the industry are concerned that these new guidelines will stifle innovation, however, and it remains to be seen if or how this directive will evolve.

Transparency: Another trend in the industry is for manufacturers to disclose more information about the ingredients in their cleaning products. A step beyond certification and ecolabels, this move is intended to help purchasers better understand all the environmental, safety and health characteristics of products before they select them. Very simply, users want to know what’s inside the products they use, even green ones. For instance, one certified-green product may include an ingredient that can cause an allergic reaction in small children. Knowing this, a purchaser can select another green cleaning product that does not include this ingredient. The focus on greater transparency took an important step forward with the recent announcement from Walmart on its chemical requirements with transparency being a major component of their requirements.

Globally Harmonized System: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has modified the Hazard Communication Standard now used in the United States. The modifications are designed to make chemical information and warning labels consistent with those in many other countries around the world and with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

The key reason for the integration is to ensure all chemicals manufactured or used in the United States are labeled so that information on use, precautions and warnings are similar around the globe. In other words, a cleaning worker using a cleaning chemical in India or China will have, know and understand the same set of warning and hazard labels as a cleaning worker in North America. The ultimate goal is safety for the worker as well as building users.

Professional cleaning and cleaning products today are safer, more sustainable, effective and cost effective than those made just a few years back. These changes also have had a major impact on the professional cleaning industry in general. The days of cleaning workers being an invisible part of building operations is long gone. Today, and much the result of the green cleaning movement, they are considered one of the most crucial parts of a facility’s or business’s operation.

Bottles image by Anton Chalakov via Shutterstock.

The Dangers of Fragrance in Cleaners

If you happen to see a commercial for a traditional cleaner on television, you’ll notice that many of the products that are being sold have a pine tree scent, or smell like fresh lemons, or whatever else they think will help sell their product. But, what are you actually getting with these added fragrances in traditional cleaners? According to this article from Destination Green, what you may be getting is some potentially serious health problems.

The Fragrance Factor in Cleaning Chemicals

From a News Story Released in 2013

Many Green chemical manufacturers now remove fragrances from their products, according to Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and long considered “the father of Green Cleaning.”

“There is a very real reason for this. For some people, the fragrance found in these and other products can be as problematic to health as secondhand smoke.”

However, Ashkin says it is not necessarily the fragrance that may produce adverse health impacts. “Instead, it is often because some of these product fragrances have been produced from petroleum or made from ingredients such as acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate, and limonene, all of which can harm human health.”

Public health officials report there are four categories of health effects due to fragrances. These are:

1. Respiratory, including allergic asthma, nonallergic asthma, and reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS)

2. Neurological, which includes headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, and confusion

3. Skin irritation

4. Eye irritation, tearing, and inflammation

Adverse reactions to fragrances also cost the U.S. economy more than $25 billion annually in absenteeism due to illness as well as reduced worker productivity.*

Because of this, Ashkin suggests the following steps that employers can take to help reduce the amount of fragrances found in the workplace:

· Select fabrics, upholstery, and carpets that have reduced “off-gassing” levels, and install them on the weekend, allowing time for off-gassing to dissipate.

· Strongly recommend that employees refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes.

· Limit the use of some automatic air fresheners; increase air ventilation in restrooms and foodservice areas.

· Use office air purifiers.

· Have indoor air regularly tested by an industrial hygiene professional.

· Create scent-free zones and meeting rooms.

· Educate all staffers about why exposure to scented products can be a problem.

· Select Green Cleaning chemicals; most are fragrance free.

“And take fragrance complaints seriously, even if just from one office worker,” adds Ashkin. “It is more likely than not that many others are also being impacted.”

Removing Stains With Hydrogen Peroxide

Instead of fighting stains with expensive, chemical-laden products, it’s always a good idea to try to remove the stain, using a natural/safe remedy. There are several methods for removing stains naturally, using items such as; salt, baking soda, vinegar, and lemons. However, one common household item that often gets overlooked for it’s stain removing abilities, is hydrogen peroxide. For a few tips on how to use hydrogen peroxide for stain removal purposes, check out this article from Green Cleaning Magazine.

4 Tips for Banishing Stains With Hydrogen Peroxide

Stain removal techniques - Hydrogen peroxide


Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent weapon against stains—it is has the power to lift really tough spills, marks, and messes.

It not only happens to be great for stains, it’s also spot on for disinfection of everything from kitchen and bathroom counters to children’s toys. Hydrogen peroxide is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and it busts mold and mildew. It also allows you to lessen the amount of harsh chemicals you use around your home—it is essentially non-toxic and safe for the environment.

How can you get started with this lesser-known cleaning tool? Here are a few quick tips:

1. Test It:  It’s a good idea to always check how it works on a smaller, less visible area of the surface you want to treat. Using a cotton ball or pad, dab at the stained area with the hydrogen peroxide. If you do start to see changes in the color of the fabric or surface then run water over the area to prevent it from continuing.

2. Wear Gloves: While hydrogen peroxide is anti-bacterial, users should consider wearing gloves while using it to prevent skin irritation. You will see the peroxide bubbling as you apply it but this is normal.

3. Dab It: After testing the stained area, simply dab at it for further cleaning rather than rubbing it. As the peroxide breaks down the stain, it will likely spread if it is wiped around, so gentle dabbing is recommended. Dabbing will ensure that you are pulling the stain from the material rather than spreading it around the fabric. If needed, keep reapplying the hydrogen peroxide and be sure to use a fresh cotton pad every time you do so—or you may end up putting the stain back into the fabric.

4. Flush It: Flush the area with water after the hydrogen peroxide treatment and then put fabrics through a cold wash cycle—you will likely end up with a stain that has been removed.


And, The Worst Cleaning Products for Your Home Are……..

blog-toxicMost people now realize that many traditional cleaners come with a bit of a risk do to certain chemicals they may contain. Despite this knowledge, many people continue to purchase some of these cleaners, maybe thinking that perhaps they aren’t as bad as people say. I personally try to use only natural or “green” cleaning supplies in my home, but I understand that some people prefer traditional cleaners for certain jobs. However, if you are using any of the products on this list to clean your home, you may want to reconsider.

The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, is a non-profit who focuses on public health and the environment. The EWG, put together a list of some of the most harmful cleaning products you can use in your home. Below is a few of the products on that list which you should avoid, along with a brief description of some the dangers of these products.

1. “2000 Flushes” and ” X-14″ toilet cleaners- These chlorine cleaning discs can be harmful if they come in contact with your hands or face, and can be fatal if swallowed.

2. “Glade” and “Air Wick” air fresheners- Both of these air fresheners can be extremely harmful, or even fatal, if inhaled improperly.

3. “Ajax, Fab Ultra, Dynamo” liquid laundry detergents- All of these detergents contain formaldehyde, which can cause allergies and even asthma.

4.”Tarn-X” tarnish remover- This product contains the chemical thiourea. Prolonged or repeated exposure to this chemical may cause reproductive or fetal effects.

5. “Spic And Span” surface cleaner- This multi purpose cleaner contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which can disrupt the hormone system and is harmful to aquatic life and the environment. In fact, products which contain this chemical are not allowed to be sold in the European Union.

6. “Scrubbing Bubbles” bathroom cleaner- If you thought the little smiling cleaning bubbles were cute, think again. This product contains a high percentage of DEGBE, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the lungs.

These are just a few examples of how potentially dangerous some of these chemically-laden traditional cleaners can be.


Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Lime 

Alternate Uses for Cleaning Products

If you were to walk down the cleaning product isle of your local grocery store today, you’d find that there is a product for just about any cleaning job imaginable. You may also notice, that many of the cleaning products are specifically designed for one specific task. Before you fill up your cart with ten different cleaners, for ten different jobs on your next shopping trip, you should check out this helpful article from, Seventh Generation. The article lists several cleaning jobs that can be done by simply using a few different cleaners.

So, save yourself some money, and some space in your cart, by giving these cleaning tips a shot.

10 Great Uses for Ordinary Cleaning Products in Not-So-Ordinary Places

We try to keep it simple at our house, which means one product often does the work of two, or three. After all, just because the bottle says “dish liquid” or “laundry detergent” doesn’t mean what’s in it can’t be used in other ways. Here’s what we discovered:

Liquid Dish Soap is great for:

1) Cleaning lawn furniture. Fill a gallon bucket with warm water and a squirt of dish liquid, swish it around so it’s all nice and soapy and use a sponge or dish rag to scrub last year’s dirt and grime from vinyl or resin furniture. Then leave them in the sun to dry.
2) Removing grime from messy tools. My husband loves to work on the car, but he used to leave the tools in a greasy heap on the garage floor. Now he drops them in a bucket filled with dish soap and water when he’s done. A little soak and the grime wipes away.
3) Making the grill look new. Somehow, we always end up putting the grill away for the year with a less-than-spotless rack. To get it clean again, I place the rack in a sealable plastic bag and then mix half a cup of dish liquid and a gallon of water. I pour this over over the rack, seal up the bag, and let it sit overnight. Next day, I scrub the grill with a wire brush and rinse.
4) Preserving pruning shears. I like to garden, so I invest in quality tools. My “fancy” pruning shears have lasted for years simply because whenever I’m done with them, I make a quick trip to the kitchen sink and scrub away accumulated sap and residue with a little dish liquid and a brush. Then I dry them thoroughly and put a “dot” of oil on the pivot point.

Baby Wipes make short work of:

4) Bird droppings on the car. No babies in our house anymore, but there’s still a box of baby wipes in the car for when the local flock decides to bomb my vehicle. Baby wipes are also great for cleaning bird droppings from your newly cleaned lawn furniture!
5) Dusty dashboards. No multi-tasking while you’re driving. But if you happen to be stuck in a traffic jam or at a red light, a quick swipe with a wipe leaves the dashboard clean and smelling very fresh.

Powdered Laundry Detergent also works to:

6) Remove oil spills on the garage floor or driveway. Cover a fresh spill with powdered laundry detergent and let it to soak up the stain. If the spill is old, dampen the area with water, apply the detergent and use a stiff-bristled brush to work the mixture into the affected area. Wait 24 hours before sweeping the residue away.
7) Clean car grease and paint from your hands. Mix one tablespoon of laundry detergent and one tablespoon of vegetable oil, rub gently, wipe away mess and finish with a conventional hand wash.
8) Kill sidewalk moss. I read this somewhere and had to try it for myself. It works. Sprinkle unwanted moss with powdered laundry detergent, let it sit for three or four days until the moss turns brownish. Brush the moss away with a stiff broom and rinse the detergent away with a hose.

Fabric Softener Sheets do a great job of:

9) Cleaning paint brushes. Soak used paintbrushes in warm water with a dryer sheet. Latex paint will come off easily in a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly and wipe the brush dry.
10) Scenting the air as you vacuum. Vacuums can get kind of “stinky.” If you stuff a dryer sheet inside the vacuum cleaner bag through the hole where it attaches to the vacuum, you’ll get a soft, fresh scent as you vacuum. Best of all, a used dryer sheet works as well as a new one.