How to Avoid Toxic Chemicals for Cleaning Your Home and Furniture

A few years ago, people at cleaning companies realised they could sell more of their products by scaring mothers, and set about convincing us that the only way to protect our babies was to buy their products to kill every germ in our homes, and never let any dirt near our children. Dirt became the enemy, to be avoided at all costs.

Recently though some common sense has started to prevail. People have become conscious of the rise of conditions such as asthma, and the link seems to be with our overly clean houses. Some dirt is good for building up a child's resistance. And more than that, it's surely better to be a relaxed parent than one who freaks out at the thought of their baby eating food off their own high chair? When I was a first time parent I certainly had more important things to worry about, and keeping my home spotless was quite low down on my list of priorities!

Obviously, though, even the most relaxed of us want to clean and keep our house nice. A lot of the natural materials and items in our homes need to be looked after, for example wooden furniture needs to be cleaned to keep the surface in good condition and stop stains. It can be difficult though when the products marketed so heavily to parents are generally full of chemicals and not exactly conducive to natural living.

Luckily, it is actually easier than you might think to avoid chemical cleaners. For general cleaning, citrus is your best friend. Lemon or orange juice or another citrus juice are great at removing stains and acting as a natural disinfectant, and they give a lovely fruity aroma. Mix with a little water and watch the magic. For tough grease and stains hot water and steam will give the mixture a boost.

For wooden furniture, adding olive oil and essential oils into the citrus/water mix creates a perfect solution which cares for the surface of your wood, keeping it well moistened and protected, without having to use the toxic and harsh smelling wood polishes.

You can buy eco friendly detergents and cleaners, but they can often be a little more expensive than the cheap chemically ones. It's worth investing in a couple of key products though for items that your own creations won't clean. For example, a stain on a sofa might need something a little bit more effective than lemon juice.

Some people try to prevent marks by spraying furniture with a stain resistant chemical like Teflon. These products can be really toxic though – bad for the environment, your furniture and you and your child. If you want to go for a more natural option for your family, look for options which don't contain fluorochemicals or PTFE resin.

In general when buying pre-prepared cleaning products, avoid:

•    synthetic fragrances
•    silicones
•    solvents
•    butane
•    petroleum distillates

For reclaimed furniture ideas visit the furniture market.

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