Green Clean
The Environmentally Sound
Guide to Cleaning
Your House

Linda Mason Hunter
Mikki Halpin
(Melcher Media)
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the kitchen...

Hunter and Halpin claim that the air inside our homes "can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside;" they warn us that chemicals and poisons befoul the world and make our houses "sick."

    Sick buildings are places where people reported an unusually high instance of symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, headaches, and nausea due to indoor air pollution.

All this is, they report, a result of poor design, bad ventilation, and a plethora of synthetic chemicals emanating from furnishings and building materials.

Each year, the average American household uses forty pounds of "commercially made synthetic chemicals, all hiding in popular cleaners, polishes, pesticides, stain removers and personal care products," they tell us. If you thought "keeping house" was a pain before this, you are going to be doubly wary after reading Green Clean.

In the good old days we sprayed E-Z Off in the oven without a qualm, squirted Windex on the table tops and windows without a thought, and put warfarin out for the rats. But we find here that we are seriously befouling our own nests.

But there are appropriate solutions. Table salt will do the same job in and on the stove, a mixture of vinegar and soda water work just as well sprayed on the windows, and instead of rat-poison, we should get a wire-haired terrier. No cats though. You don't want to know how many nests they invade every year; even a well-fed cat has a hankering to kill birds.

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For fleas, the authors tell us, sprinkle basil leaves on the floor, use sugar mixed with borax for roaches, and to polish your furniture ... treat it as if it were a salad: use olive oil and white vinegar.

And it is not only the "volatile organic compounds" from cleaning sprays and liquids and pesticides that are getting us (and our children). Your beautiful new carpet and sofa can be spitting up chemicals. It's called "outgassing."

    Avoid furniture made from particleboard or other composites; they frequently emit trace amounts of formaldehyde.

Indoor plants are called for to counteract formaldehyde and benzene in the air. They suggest fifteen plants for every 1,500 square feet in your home ... Chinese Evergreen, English ivy, and Arrowhead Vine.

The old non-toxic reliables for keeping your place spiffy are baking soda, organic apple cider vinegar, linseed oil, club soda, borax (for the dishes), salt in warm water (to clean silver), and water boiling on the stove with cinnamon and cloves to freshen up the house.

And that warfarin: if you have heart problems, your doctor will probably suggest you take it in pill form. The rats would be better done in by your noisy new terrier.

--- Ruth F. Schwartz, MA
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