8 Safe Alternatives to Dangerous Chemicals
After a few nights in her new bedroom, she has been experiencing hot flashes and cold sweats and has acquired a rash on the back of her legs and neck. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Frequently, when families move into a new home, one or more family members develop ailments or allergies they didn’t have before. Among other things, this can result from the chemicals that the previous owners used to maintain the property, and in the case of a new home, from the types of building materials that were used.
We know of one woman who became violently ill in her new home. She didn’t discover that she was allergic to the insulation material until after more than a year of testing. Bottom line: If extra care is taken to use safe chemicals in our homes, the long-term result is a better environment for all of us.
Following is a quote from a fact sheet published by the Center for Hazardous Materials Research (CHMR) at the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center, 320 William Pitt Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15238: “Many products used in the average household contain materials that are considered hazardous because the ingredients are flammable, corrosive, toxic or reactive. Many of these products are so familiar, that their hazards may be overlooked or underestimated.” We agree. When two common household products like ammonia and bleach are mixed, they create an extremely dangerous byproduct that is similar to nerve gas.
The good news is that there are plenty of safe alternatives to the myriad dangerous chemicals that are on the market today. Here are a few that are noted in CHMR’s “Hazardous Materials Fact Sheet.”
- WINDOW CLEANERS o Measure 3 tablespoons ammonia, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 3/4 cup water into clean spray bottle. Spray on window and wipe clean.
- METAL POLISHES o Polish Brass with Worcestershire sauce. o Polish Copper with paste consisting of vinegar and salt. o Polish Silver by soaking it in an aluminum foil tray containing a quart of warm water, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.
- ABRASIVE CLEANERS, o For the Toilet pour 1/2 cup chlorine bleach into the bowl, let stand for 30 minutes, scrub with a long-handled brush and then flush. Drain Flush with boiling water, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 2 ounces of vinegar. o For Sinks use store-bought brands without chlorine, or scrub with baking soda.
- AIR FRESHENERS-DEODORIZERS o Sprinkle baking soda in odor-producing areas. o Set vinegar out in an open dish. o Sprinkle borax in corners of the room. o Place an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb food odors. o Pour baking soda down garbage disposal for disposal and drain odors. o Sprinkle baking soda over entire carpet and vacuum after 30 minutes.
- GLASS CLEANER o Spray vinegar on glass and wipe dry with newsprint.
- ANTS o Pour boiling water over the nest. o Remove accessible food and water (this one isn’t always so easy). o Pour a line of cream of tartar or chili powder where ants enter the house. They will not cross it.
- ROACHES o Clean up food. o Place bay leaves near cracks. o Caulk all cracks. o Use sticky traps. o Set out a dish containing equal parts of oatmeal and Plaster of Paris.
- MOTH BALLS o Place cedar chips, newspapers or lavender flowers around closets. o Wool clothing should be cleaned and wrapped in plastic bags during warm weather
A NOTE TO OUR READERS: We often received emails asking where to find noiseless fluorescent light fixtures. Look in your phone book under Electrical Suppliers Wholesale. Call and ask if they sell fluorescent light fixtures with electronic ballasts. If they do, they probably also carry the replacement ballasts and the bulbs. We know of no one brand that is better than another. The key is “electronic ballast” And that’s all there is to it! For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474.