Commonly used in scouring powders and cleaning solutions, bleach is highly caustic, meaning it can burn skin and eyes – never mind being potentially fatal if accidentally swallowed. When it travels from your drain into the natural world it can create organochlorines which are suspected carcinogens as well as reproductive, neurological, and immune-system toxins.
So the question is, what are the alternatives? There are definitely greener disinfectant options available that you should know about. But before we take a look at these options, it is important to take a moment to rethink our approach to ‘germ control’. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we have to kill every single living microbe in our homes or else we would be exposing our family to the risk of disease and infection. This is complete nonsense – unless you are intending to do open-heart surgery on your counter top, that is.
Unless we are talking about a hospital operating theatre, exposure to small quantities of microbes is, in fact, beneficial. They actually assist our immune system to develop and protect us from the truly dangerous life-forms out there. So what we need for home cleaning is an effective, but not chemically dangerous disinfectant product that will do the trick for those important areas of the home where disinfection is necessary, such as the toilet bowl or baby changing table.
Citrus extracts have long been recognised as having antimicrobial properties (among many other beneficial properties) and are now being used in various products to produce highly-effective disinfectant formulations that completely avoid the need for bleaches. This is old knowledge finally being put to good use.
You will also find products that contain bleach out there, but because they are chlorine-free bleaches (or oxygen bleaches) they are also labelled As ‘eco’ or ‘green’ products. This is not misrepresentation and these products are also certainly worth considering, as they still offer tough cleaning and disinfectant capabilities without those environmental hazards associated with chlorine-based products.
Of course, if you have the time and prefer to make your own home cleaning products, then you will find a variety of simple disinfectant recipes on-line. In the meantime, here is one using grapefruit seed extract:
Source: Simply Green May/June 2010
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