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How to Create a Greener, Cleaner, Healthier Home

Making a few changes to your routine can improve your breathing, sleep, and overall health.

Natural Cleaning Products continued...

Bark suggests trying other nontoxic alternatives to standard cleaning products. For instance:

  • Biokleen Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner works with the use of natural enzymes. Bark says it's "just short of miraculous for cleaning up crusted messes and soaking up unpleasant smells."
  • Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner eliminates harsh chemicals and synthetic aromas and can clean most household surfaces.
  • Trasan Heavy Hitter microfiber cloths have microscopically thin fibers that will sanitize any surface in your home, picking up microscopic-size particles, such as viruses. Just wet them with water and clean. According to Bark, Trasans are used to sanitize patient hospital rooms in Sweden.
  • Method Multi-Surface Natural All Purpose Cleaner cleans tough stains on almost any surface without harsh chemicals like phosphates and chlorine. Just be sure to choose the Go Naked version, which is fragrance free.

Switching to natural products doesn't mean you have to sacrifice great-smelling rooms. To freshen air naturally, use essential oils and boil citrus fruit sections, cinnamon, and cloves in a pot with water for an hour.

Healthy Laundry Detergents

Throwing on a soft T-shirt with that just-out-of-the-dryer smell is one of life's small pleasures. Alas, that sweet aroma comes with a price. The chlorine bleach and other harsh ingredients used in laundry products to whiten and freshen clothing not only pollute indoor air but also eventually find their way into waterways where it can be toxic to aquatic life. But among the worst offenders are those fabric softener sheets you toss in the dryer to give your clothes that clean scent, Bark says.

Laundry detergents also contain chemicals called surfactants to penetrate clothing and carry away dirt in the wash cycle. But while they may be great at removing stains from your son's soccer shirt, studies show they are easily absorbed through the skin and can disrupt the body's hormone signals that regulate reproduction.

For healthier laundry options, look for products that leave the harsh chemicals behind. Bark suggests a few alternatives:

  • Trader Joe's Liquid Laundry Detergent with lavender oil and optical brightener -- the stuff that keeps your whites white -- cleans clothes just as well as your average detergent, Bark says. But it does it without phosphates -- which pollute the water -- or formaldehyde.
  • Oxi-Brite Laundry Detergent uses oxygen instead of chlorine to effectively remove stains and brighten clothes. According to Bark, oxygen-based cleaners lift dirt and stains from material without the toxicity of chlorine bleach.
  • Earth Friendly Ecos All Natural Laundry Detergent is made entirely from plants and cleans without the use of harsh chemicals or synthetic aromas. You can choose scents like lavender or lemongrass, which come from essential oils.

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