Go Green In The Kitchen

Safer Cleaners, Healthier Home

My parents were amazing, loving parents. I say that as a caveat to what follows. When I was a kid, I clearly remember playing with bleach. Yes, I played with bleach. And not just once, but multiple times.

The first time was because, when I was six, stonewashed jeans were so cool, and my parents wouldn’t shell out the cash for a pair. Instead, I decided I’d turn my oh-so-dorky dark denim Lees into something much hipper, by splashing them with bleach. I succeeded, but I made a mess of my bedroom carpet in the process.

The next time was when my friend and I heard that you could make a bomb using bleach. Now, we weren’t little hooligan terrorists, I swear, we were just science-minded and liked doing our own experiments. I’m pretty sure we got the idea from a teacher at school.

My parents, however, weren’t too happy when they came home to a yard full of exploded plastic shrapnel. How did I get my hands on the bleach? It wasn’t hard. My parents kept a bottle right under the kitchen sink, next to the bottles of ammonia, because they used it for cleaning. It’s crazy, right, that something that’s harsh enough to eat away at fabric and explode is a go-to in household kitchen products?

But what can you do? A lot of the products that we rely on for keeping our homes sparkling are made of harsh chemicals. These products can irritate skin, be harmful to breathe in, and have a pretty devastating impact on the environment.

Read the bottles of most products and you’ll see that they’re clearly marked as poisonous. Yet, it doesn’t have to be like that. These days, you’ll find that there’s a plethora of choices when it comes to green cleaning products.

It’s not just about caring for the environmentalthough green products are obviously an eco-friendly option that can help prevent toxins from getting into our groundwater and impacting wildlifeit’s about caring for your family. Caring that they don’t come into contact with eye-stinging irritants in the most sacred of family gathering places, the kitchen.

  How to Tell if Your Cleaning is Green

What you’ll want to look for are products that are made from plant-based ingredients. Don’t just grab a bottle that says “natural” and move on, because, after all, even arsenic occurs naturally.

Read the label and look for words like hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, vinegar, citrus oil, soy, and borax or sodium borate. All of these ingredients are made from sustainable and non-toxic substances.

Avoid products that include ammonia or anything labeled ammonium, bleach, or chlorides, sodium acid sulfate, fragrances, hydrochloric acid, and ingredients that contain anything marked as glycol, ethoxy, or oxynolall of which form compounds that are quite toxic.

  Homemade Cleaning Products

If you have the time and the inclination, you can also make cleaning supplies out of everyday household items. Not only will you know exactly what you’re cleaning with, it can actually save you a lot of money in comparison to pricier store-bought cleaners.

Vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide all make fantastic natural cleaning products. For more information on how to make your own cleaners, here’s a pretty comprehensive guide that can get you started.

It’s a pretty simple thing, but paying attention to the cleaners you use around the house and in the kitchen can make your home a safe place for your family. Not to mention, it’ll mean you don’t have to keep the bleach within the grasp of your own little experimenter. I bet my parents wish I’d written this article a whole lot sooner!

Alyssa is a blogger and family photographer in the Seattle area. When not chasing after kids with her camera, you can usually find Alyssa rummaging through thrift shops or enjoying Seattle's drink of choice (coffee, of course!)