LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change. The first, written by Lacey Starkey, offers tips for decreasing the use of toxic chemicals and enjoying a healthier home.
Many homes have cabinets full of toxic chemicals in the form of cleaning products. While you may believe that you are simply cleaning your home and removing germs, remember that you are also spraying toxic chemicals that your family may inhale. The pine fresh scent of your favorite cleaning products may be covering up the strong chemical smell. Not ready to give up your favorite cleaning products? Consider using chemical-free homemade cleansers for most of the time and your favorite very infrequently — with the windows open. Once you make the switch to natural cleansers, you may realize you don’t miss the chemical-laden products at all. And as a bonus, you may gain cabinet space because you won’t need to store multiple cleansers. Most of the ingredients in the “recipes” that follow are usually basic staples found in most kitchens and have a variety of uses.
Vinegar and baking soda
- Works as a perfect and inexpensive toilet bowl cleaner. Sprinkle ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl. Wait 10 minutes and scrub.
- Gets out stubborn stains on countertops by making a paste of equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Rub on to the stain and wipe clean.
Vinegar and water
Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray windows and mirrors and wipe clean with a rag or newspaper.
Mix 1 gallon of warm water with 1 cup of distilled vinegar and mop your floors — including most tiles, wood, and laminate flooring. Check the manufacturer‘s instructions before using anything new on your floors.
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water and place in microwave long enough to come to a boil. Turn off and wait 5 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe clean with a damp rag.
Mix 3 parts olive oil with one part vinegar, and rub mixture on wood furniture or cutting boards. (Always test a small area first.) Recycle old T-shirts by using them to rub in the mixture.
- Place 12 drops of essential oil in 1 cup of water in a spray bottle for an instant toxin-free air freshener. Essential oils are made from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. Most essential oils are made simply by using steam. Other synthetic scents found in cleaning and beauty products are chemically made to smell like these botanicals. You can find essential oils at health stores or online.
- Add drops of essential oil to a scent-free laundry detergent. You can change up the scents as you wish without chemical additives.
- Sprinkle lemons with baking soda and use them as a scrubber for stubborn countertop and pot and pans stains.
- Heat a bowl of water and lemon slices in your microwave for 60 seconds, then wipe down microwave. Stains will be easier to remove and old food odors will be neutralized.
- A teaspoon of lemon juice in your washing machine makes your laundry smell fresher without a fake chemical smell.
- Stop buying those disposable toilet bowel cleaning sticks and get rid of the disgusting germ-laden one you reuse over and over. Instead put on gloves, sprinkle some baking soda in the toilet, and grab half of a lemon. Scrub away!
We all have busy lives, and not everyone has the time or energy to make their own cleaning products. Many companies make cleaning products that do not contain bleach, phosphates, or ingredients that could cause harsh fumes. You could also consider buying concentrated cleaning supplies, which has saved me money and reduced the amount of plastic that I am putting in a landfill. You can keep the same spray bottle for years (I have had mine for 3!), and one bottle of concentrated cleaner can last a very long time.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much effort to make a healthy change for you and your family, reduce your carbon footprint and save money.
Lacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.