Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO/Are your cleaning products making you sick?

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Now that the temperatures have warmed up, you likely have the windows open, curtains blowing from a fresh breeze, and beautiful sunlight streaming through. But what exactly is blowing around your home?

As Jolie Kerr writes in today’s New York Times, “Every home — big, small, apartment or vacation home — gets dirty. And while there's not just one way to clean your living space, there is a smarter way to get the job done.” She goes on to offer zippy ways to clean burned pots and sponges. Where she falls short, however, is what she’s cleaning with, and understanding the potential health risks.

Air fresheners, plugins, candles and cleaning supplies all have toxic chemicals.

Thankfully, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) issues a thorough guide and list of toxic cleaning content.

They investigated over 2,000 cleaning supplies on the American market, and found many contain substances linked to serious health problems.

Fumes, carcinogens, lack of clear labeling can all contribute to potential health issues. More research is needed, but in addition to allergies, correlations are indicated for asthma, cancer and development issues (among others).

So check out the EWG scoring cards and go for products given an “A” (for ex, Arm and Hammer baking soda, Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Soap, Whole Foods All Purpose Spray), as opposed to those failing (for ex, Ajax, Clorox, Endust and Fantastik are all on that list!). Even the best of brands have some low scorers so get specific.

Or make your own! HGTV offers some great tips as well as recipes using natural ingredients like vinegar, water, and rubbing alcohol (below). You’ll use so little that it won’t smell, but if you are concerned add in some pure essential oils like lemon or thieves.

And while you’re at it, consider decluttering – not only will it make you feel better, but you also may lose weight! De-cluttering expert and author Peter Walsh says he started seeing the link between clutter and weight problems when readers of his first book began telling him how they also had lost weight as a result of getting organized. Clutter and fat, he realized, are not so different.

“Be ruthless,” he advises. “Stripping away the excess ‘fat’ from your kitchen is as important as the weight you wish to strip away from your hips.”

Spring cleaning with new, toxic-free ingredients will not only make for a healthier environment and clean air, but you may lose inches on your waistline. What more do you need to get started?

Happy cleaning!

Healthfully yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

Homemade Spray Cleaner
Try this recipe to harness the cleaning power of white vinegar. Mix in a spray bottle:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Homemade Glass Cleaner
Try this recipe to harness the cleaning power of rubbing alcohol. Mix in a spray bottle:
1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Try the following formulations for spring cleaning or tough chores.

Strong Glass Cleaner
Mix in a spray bottle:
1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon clear, nonsudsing ammonia

Strong All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix in a spray bottle:
1 tablespoon clear, nonsudsing ammonia
1 tablespoon clear dishwashing liquid (use one given an “A”)
2 cups water