I urge you to read the dire health warnings written in small print on the back of your household cleaning supplies. After doing this, you may want to reconsider what you spray around your kitchen and bathroom. After all, soaking in the tub is a lot more relaxing if you aren't worried about toxic residue floating in the bathwater! Why not have peace of mind and switch to safer alternatives?
Distilled White Vinegar
To make an effective all-purpose cleaner, fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, or use undiluted to sanitize and remove odors from sinks, toilets, and garbage disposals. Fabric softener is known to be particularly hazardous but if crunchy laundry isn't your thing, try using a cup of plain white vinegar instead.
This makes a great natural deodorizer - and not just for inside the fridge. Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl or down the sink to keep these areas smelling fresh. To make an abrasive cleaner, use the baking soda neat or mix with a little water or vinegar to form a paste and rub with a wet sponge.
No worries so far about inhaling fumes or having the poison control center on speed dial. In place of a precautionary statements written on the back of these two products, you may find a great recipe for a salad dressing or pancake mix!
3% Hydrogen Peroxide
This effective all-purpose cleaner is composed of water and oxygen. It can be used undiluted and should be kept in the brown bottle. Just remove the cap and attach a regular spray nozzle to it (and yes most will fit). Unlike vinegar and baking soda which can both be safely ingested, there is some controversy surrounding the safety of hydrogen peroxide. It has been highly touted as a cure-all tonic, but it’s medicinal uses are still highly controversial. I like it because it's anti fungal, antimicrobial and odorless but I wouldn't advocate using it for anything other than a household cleaner. It's advised to only use the 3% version, so please be sure you are not using a higher concentration.
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soaps
I love using the unscented baby version for bathing (and cleaning my makeup brushes), but the naturally scented versions smell great and can be used for cleaning around the house. For mopping floors, use 1/2 cup in 3 gallons of hot water and to make an all-purpose cleaner use 1/4 cup per gallon of water in a spray bottle. For other ideas on how to use this lovely soap, check out the dilution cheat sheet from Lisa Bronner here.
If buying something ready made is more your style, then your local Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe's or other natural markets will carry an abundance of healthier cleaning choices. If you don't have access to these places, look for brands such as Seventh Generation, Method, or Myers which are carried in most stores.
Some people complain that natural products aren't as effective as their harsher counterpart but even if this were true, ask yourself this simple question - Do you want cleaner lungs or a cleaner sink? The choice is yours.