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Gert's Dirt: Decreasing toxins in the home

From Donna Bellino

If you look around the cleaning aisle at the store you may notice several “green” cleaning products. Let’s look at the reasons for this now- popular choice in cleaning and how these products affect you, your loved ones and the environment.

Today more than ever we are exposed to harmful chemicals. We are just discovering how the use of these chemicals affects the health of our loved ones and our environment. We have learned that exposure can cause allergies, cancer and damage to our organs. Children and small pets are extremely vulnerable to chemicals in the home. Knowing this, we are obligated to decrease their exposure as much as possible and remember that when these toxic chemicals (and every paper towel we used) are released into the environment, there is an impact on our planet.

But we want our homes to be clean and free of germs, right? Well, let’s take a look at germs. They are everywhere, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of the germs around us are good germs and we need them to fight off the bad ones. If we use strong chemicals, however, we kill the good germs, too. Studies show that children from homes where surfaces are cleaned with bleach have more illness than kids from “dirtier” homes. Now, most of us would not be happy leaving our counters unwashed, but there are some alternatives that can clean our homes, protect your families, preserve those friendly germs AND save money and the environment! But first, here is some advice on the use of chemicals:

 • Always keep cleaning products in their original containers and out of the reach of children

 • Minimize cleaning products to a few that can do the entire job

 • Never mix or combine products

 • Read and follow the directions on the label

 • Ensure that there is adequate ventilation. Stop using the product if it makes you feel dizzy or sick

 • Chemicals can easily be absorbed through your skin. Use gloves. To prevent splashing into your eyes, use eye protection.

The most important advice is to educate yourself on the products you use and choose safer alternatives as often as possible. These alternatives can be made with ingredients such as baking soda, washing soda, lemon and white vinegar. Many of the “green” alternatives in the store can be expensive and not really all that “green.” For example, some contain palm oil. The palm oil industry has a huge negative impact on our eco-systems. If you’re interested in safer, more economical and eco-friendly alternatives to harsh chemical to clean your home, stay tuned. Next week I will share with you some wonderful alternatives.

Donna Bellino is a Registered Nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!