Detox your house

Photo: iStockphoto.com/WendellandCarolyn
The average Canadian household contains up to 25 toxic chemicals and the average Canadian produces 20-40 litres of toxic waste each year. No wonder there are concerns that we are poisoning ourselves and our children. But there's never been an easier time to go green by detoxing from our chemical dependency. Start by checking the ingredients in your cleaners. If there are any six-syllable, hard-to-pronounce names, chances are it's a synthetic, man-made chemical. Other giveaways are warnings like "use in a well-ventilated area" or "avoid contact with skin." Skull and crossbones, of course, mean big trouble. Spring cleaning the natural way Technically, you can clean almost everything in your home with baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and soap. But there are also some excellent green products out there. Not only are they better for your health, they are also cheaper. Green Living writer Janet Neilson tried out some environmentally friendly products and gives us her assessment of which ones work the best. Testing all the products My husband and I have three children and we wanted to keep our house and laundry clean in the healthiest possible way. So I went out and bought every eco-friendly cleaning product I could find. Some were disappointing, but I finally narrowed down the following arsenal of cleaners as being the best I could find. Some may not be as powerful as the more toxic varieties, but they all do the job. You can buy them at many major grocery stores or smaller stores that have an environmental bent. Dishes In the sink
  • Earth Friendly Products Dishmate: mild, natural scents.
  • Seventh Generation Dish Liquid: available unscented or in green apple, lavender or citrus.
  • President's Choice Sensitive Skin dish detergent: hypoallergenic, phosphate-free.
  • Sobey's Brilliance: inexpensive and hypoallergenic.
In the dishwasher
  • Ultra Citra-Dish dishwasher detergent: very effective.
  • Ecover Dishwasher Tablets: convenient to use.
Laundry
  • Bio Vert Ultra Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent with Fabric Softener: a two-in-one product; biodegradable, with a pleasant, natural scent.
  • Earth Friendly Products Laundry Pre-Wash & Stain Remover: effective on food stains, dirt, blood and oil.
  • President's Choice Clear Choice laundry detergent: cleans well.
  • Seventh Generation Non-Chlorine Bleach: hypoallergenic and biodegradable; contains no optical brighteners and is safe for septic and grey-water systems.
Oven or barbecue
  • Nature Clean Natural Barbecue & Oven Cleaner: non-corrosive, free of solvents, petroleum ingredients or fumes; worked well on my oven, but didn't work on my barbecue.
  • Simply Clean Professional Strength Supercleaner: cuts through barbecue grease.
Stains and odours
  • Earth Friendly Products Everyday Stain & Odor Remover: non-toxic, non-flammable, natural, biodegradable. Removes stains (e.g. spilt wine) and odours (e.g. pet accidents) on fabrics, rugs and floors.
Toilet
  • 20 Mule Team Borax: deodorizes, freshens and removes stains perfectly. Made from naturally occurring minerals.
  • Nature Clean Toilet Bowl Cleaner: septic-safe, biodegradable, non-toxic, not tested on animals. Biodegrades 99 percent within 28 days.
Tub, tiles, floors and kitchen
  • Bio Vert Clean & Shine Concentrated Cleaner: made from coconut, lemon, lime and orange extracts. Excellent value.
  • Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser: orange extracts and biodegradable cleaning ingredients.
  • Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus all-purpose cleaner: contains pressed orange oil and biodegradable, plant-derived surfactants.
  • Murphy Oil Soap: contains biodegradable cleaning ingredients; an excellent cleanser that has been in production for over 90 years.
  • Nature Clean Tub & Tile Cream Cleanser: biodegradable, non-toxic and hypoallergenic; non-scratching.
  • Simply Clean Professional Strength Supercleaner: cleans grease and ink from counters, toilets and bathtubs; not tested on animals; will not harm skin, fabric, paint or marine life. Comes with a money-back guarantee.
Windows
  • Nature Clean Window & Glass Cleaner: non-streaking, anti-fog cleaner without ammonia, colouring, animal byproducts or corrosives; smells a bit like vinegar