April 2009 Issue

Cleaning Naturally

Believe it or not, some of the best non-toxic cleaning products are already in your kitchen cupboard. Here's what they can do.

The cleanser you scrubbed your counter with makes your kitchen smell fresh and clean. It also makes it into a hazardous waste site for your cat. Common household cleaners carry labels warning of their dangers, and so most people use gloves or wash their hands after using them. But every time your cat walks across a newly cleaned counter or floor and then grooms itself, it ingests the cleaning product. Even if you rinse and dry the area, some residue can remain. Cleansers such as Lysol® contain phenols and alcohol, both of which are toxic to cats and can cause digestive upset and irritations in the mouth. Bleach, a popular cleaning product, will cause skin irritation; when combined with ammonia, it forms poisonous chlorine gas. Any product containing pine oils, such as Pine Sol®, can cause liver damage. Some vets say they’ve never seen an example of cleanser-caused toxicity in cats. But we know from human studies that the effects of environmental toxins are not always obvious. Rather than risk skin irritation or liver failure, why not use natural cleansers that are safe for pets and humans? And there’s no need to spend a fortune on fancy "green" products, either. Your kitchen cupboard probably has all the cleaning power you’ll need to keep your home sparkling.

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