Friday, February 1, 2008

Green Housekeeping - Spruce Up For Spring

Is Your House Making You Sick?

It's an icy day here at Cheesecake Farms. Too cold and damp to work outside so I thought it would be a good day to work inside.

Our fireplaces are roaring brightly, giving off their loving warmth.

What's on my mind this morning is my (our - and hopefully your) continuing quest to live as healthfully as possible in our ever changing, ever urbanizing, ever polluted world.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not about to give up central heating and my truck but there's a lot we can do to insure that we take the best of what modern life has to offer tempered by an understanding of the basic principles of nature.

This is a good kind of day to spruce up (or plan on sprucing up) you house for spring.

As you're sprucing (or planning to spruce), consider whether you're adding toxic chemicals to your home environment.

1. Cleaning products.
All commercially available cleaning products are based on ammonia, baking soda, soap, vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and alcohol.

Why pay a fortune for commercial products that also contain fragrance, colorings and a host of other chemicals when you can "clean green" for a fraction of the cost?

2. Laundry detergents and additives.
There are a lot of fragrance and coloring free products on the markets these days but unfortunately they cost more. (Shouldn't they cost less because they have less stuff in them?)

Some work better than others (it's a function of the water in your area) but they're worth a try. Get a small box at first to see if you like them.

Try to give up fabric softeners and drier sheets and instead add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cheap, white vinegar to your rinse water. It will naturally soften your clothes and towels without adding fragrance (no vinegar smell either!) plus your 100% cotton towels will absorb better.

3. Room freshners.
Adding lots of synthetic frangrances to the air will make you sick and allergies get worse.

A great, cheap trick to freshen a musty, cigarette or pet smelling room is to pour about an inch of cheap white vinegar into a 4-6 inch bowl and leave it to evaporate for a day or two. (Keeping the door closed speeds up things.) NO vinegar smell will remain - just fresh air.

4. Paint.
Always choose indoor paint for indoor jobs. They have less additives and give off less toxic chemicals as they dry. There are also new "green" paints on the market.

Whatever paint you use, crack open a window and shut the door when you're done to chase away the fumes even faster.

5. Carpet and Throw Rugs.
Polypropylene gives off a "cheap carpet" smell that never seems to go away. These fumes cause headaches and migraines in addition to upset stomachs and vomiting.

Wool and cotton are great, of course, but a good, inexpensive carpet is that old stand by - nylon. Wears well. Can be washed. Colors stay true. No smell.

Nylon carpet has some draw backs (but so do wool and cotton). It isn't absorbent and you'll get static shock if your house has a dry heat instead of steam.

Before you carpet a whole room, get a 100% nylon throw rug and give it a try.


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