Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

Whistle While You Work… with nontoxic cleaners

Published August - 23 - 2010 Print This Post


Soap Bucket


I don’t have allergies. Irritants are what get my asthma symptoms all in a tizzy. Simply walking down the grocery store’s cleaning aisle is enough to choke me up. Or how about those room deodorizers? I just don’t get why anyone needs these things – if your house is clean and free of moisture, it shouldn’t smell. Neither should your cleaning products.

Most of the time, I don’t use store-purchased cleaners. The so-called unscented or natural products that I’ve tried always leave a film or streaks and just don’t cut through the soap scum or shine the faucet the way good old-fashioned vinegar and baking soda can. Mix about equal parts of each – try it on your tile shower floor! And nothing’s quite as fresh as using half a lemon and a sprinkling of kosher salt to clean the cutting board after chopping onions or garlic.

Forget bleach! One whiff equals an immediate spasm for me, and it’s not healthy for anyone. That’s why I was ecstatic when I found Vital Oxide, a sanitizing agent proven to kill mold and bacteria, made by EcologyWorks. I’ve tried several of their products, and every one of them has performed as promised.

And I’ve just been introduced to Activeion, a handheld appliance that uses ionizing technology (don’t worry – it produces no ozone) to convert tap water into a cleaner and sanitizer. You plug it in to charge it up (a light changes from red to green when it’s ready to use), fill it with water then spray onto surfaces for chemical-free cleanliness. It’s definitely space-age, and great for sanitizing doorknobs, stainless steel (without smears), crib rails – knock yourself out!

I also love my front-loading washing machine and dryer (mine’s a Miele) because I use only a tiny bit of laundry soap (the box lasts one year) and softener to do a full load. It uses very little water but gets the clothes clean and bright. The sanitizing washing cycle is a godsend, especially for killing germs during cold and flu season, and dust mites any time (my husband has allergies).

Be careful about cleaning windows with vinegar and newspaper. It left the patio door at our previous home so invisible that an hour later, a neighbor walked right into it! Ouch. Also be aware that some newspapers are printed with oil-based ink that will smear or stain a window (you want to use newspapers that use water-based ink). A simple test: Hold the newsprint between your finger and thumb for about a minute – if the ink transfers onto your skin, the newspaper uses oil-based ink and might leave a mess behind on your glass.

You can also clean and freshen your microwave by heating a bowl of vinegar water (I never measure, but I use about a 50-50 mix) to nearly a boil. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the insides sparkling clean.

After all that cleaning, nothing is better than a hot soak in a tub laced with Epsom salts. Your skin will feel silkysoft and oh-h-h so smooth. And your muscles will be relaxed and happy. Doesn’t that make you want to whistle up a tune and scrub something right now?

(And yes, I really do use these products!)

By Nancy Sander, President/ Founder, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

First published: Allergy & Asthma Today, Volume 8, Issue 2

Reviewed by Andrea Holka and Cathy Boutin

Dust, allergens, irritants, pollutants – begone!
AANMA’s Indoor AIRepair™ room-by-room guide helps you find, get rid of and prevent allergens and irritants in your home so your whole family can breathe easier. The Indoor AIRepair program was created with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and there are
also At School and At Play editions. Find them all at
www.aanma.org/publication/indoor-air-repair-kit.