The Green Scene “January”

Topic Free Cleaning Alternatives

Do you believe that the best way to learn is to teach????? I am hired to be a teacher but I believe that in the 16 years that I have been affiliated with the Kansas and Florida Cooperative Extension Services, I have learned as much as I have taught through the trainings offered as well as through the people with whom I affiliate. Being involved with the Sustainable Big Bend’s Green Living Expo for two years has opened up doors for me that I would never have anticipated. I have learned so much through the wonderful people who live in the area who have a genuine concern about sustaining this beautiful area.

CleaningOne of the subjects that I find interesting is the alternatives that are available in cleaning products. I have started to incorporate them into my daily use and I would encourage you to do so as well. For example the homemade soap recommended by UF/IFAS I now use offers clean clothes for a fraction of the cost of using regular detergent.

Many people believe that hazardous or toxic chemicals are found only in industries that manufacture plastics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or automobiles. However, a wide range of products that we use in our home contain chemicals that fit the definition of hazardous or toxic. Hazardous products line our kitchen, bath, utility and garage shelves. In most cases the concentration of the chemical products found in the home are lower than the concentration of those found in the workplace. However, the potential for exposure to chemicals from household products in the home does exist.

Time and convenience are the primary reasons we use potentially hazardous products. In days past, the sink was scrubbed with baking soda. Extra effort was needed to maintain a stain free sink. Wood floors were cleaned with oil and vinegar or just mineral oil. This eliminated the need for wax, but required more work. Today, safe substances relatively free of toxic effects can be combined to do the job currently being done by a hazardous product.

You can reduce handling, use and disposal hazards associated with dangerous household products by substituting safer alternatives. Reducing the amount of hazardous products you purchase not only saves money, but also eliminate the threat of accidental exposure and pollution of the environment. Once you understand the basic substitutes, formulas and procedures, you can make your own decision about tradeoffs.

In a UF/IFAS FCS3149 Publication entitled Hazardous Household Substances: Alternatives That Are Relatively Free of Toxic Effects, written by Marie Hammer, former UF/IFAS Specialist, offers recipes for the following house cleaning tasks: Aluminum, Bathroom Disinfectants, Brass, Copper, Carpets and Rugs, Ceramic Tile, Drains, General Purpose, Irons, Ovens, Painted Surfaces, Silver, Toilet Bowls, Upholstery, Windows and Mirrors. There are also recipes for Metal, Floor, and Furniture Polish.

This UF/IFAS EDIS publication FCS 3149 can be obtained at Solutions For Your Life website. If you experience any difficulty locating it, don’t hesitate to call and I will get a copy to you. The publication also lists safety considerations when using cleaning products, whether made or purchased and offers places you can purchase the ingredients you need to make your own.

Remember that the Chemical Information Center can be reached at any time at 1-800-262-8200 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with information about proper use and possible side effects of chemical ingredients in cleaners, household products, pesticides and fuels.

For more information, visit the Wakulla County Extension website ( or call Shelley Swenson at 850-926-3931.


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Posted: January 8, 2011

Category: Conservation, Natural Resources
Tags: Community, Conservation, Environment, Families & Consumers, Family & Consumer Sciences, Family Youth & Community Sciences, FYCS, Green Living, Shelley Swenson, Sustainability Community, Sustainable Big Bend, Sustainable Living, The Green Scene, Wakulla, Wakulla County Extension

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