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Bleach was one of the first things I stopped using since ditching toxic chemicals and using healthier alternatives. I never really felt comfortable using it, anyway - I was always afraid of getting it on my skin or ruining my clothes. And I definitely did ruin my beautiful pink bathroom rug. -Tear.- However, there are plenty of other reasons not to use bleach.
Why Bleach is Dangerous
Recent research found that bleach usage is linked to higher rates of childhood respiratory infections, among other illnesses. The study showed that "the risk of one episode of flu in the previous year was 20% higher, and recurrent tonsillitis 35% higher, among children whose parents used bleach to clean the home" and "the risk of any recurrent infection was 18% higher among children whose parents regularly used cleaning bleach."
We also know that chlorine bleach is corrosive, which means it can burn your skin and do some serious, severe damage if ingested. If fumes from bleach are inhaled, it can irritate your lungs and digestive tract, and increase asthma symptoms. For the safety of my son and my dogs, I prefer not to even have bleach in the house.
Bleach is pretty awful for the environment, too, posing a major risk for the health of our water and wildlife.
So, what do you use to whiten your laundry, get rid of stains, and disinfect your home then? There are several alternatives to bleach.
Safe Alternatives to Bleach for Whitening and Removing Stains:
- Soap nuts: Soap nuts are pretty neat little things. Actually, they are technically berries and not nuts, but they contain a natural soap that is excellent at cleaning and removing stains in your laundry. This brand is wonderful.
- Sunlight: Yep, good ol' natural sunlight! When my son's cloth diapers have some stains, I hang them up on a nice sunny day and the stains disappear.
- Baking Soda: Add about a half of a cup to your washing machine if your clothes need a little brightening. Baking soda also works for cloth diapers and for spot removal on your carpets, couches, etc.
- Vinegar: I prefer to dab at a stain with vinegar or soak an article of clothing in some diluted vinegar. But you can add a splash right into your washing machine, as well.
- Lemon juice or lemon essential oil: Both work great for whitening clothes and removing stains. A few drops of the lemon essential oil or about a third of a cup of lemon juice into the washing machine should do the trick.
Safe Alternatives to Bleach for Cleaning and Disinfecting:
- Hydrogen Peroxide: This stuff is full of anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. I like to buy the hydrogen peroxide (3%) that comes in a spray bottle for easy use.
- Vinegar: Diluted vinegar in a spray bottle works excellent for cleaning, disinfecting toilets and kitchen counters. Check out my homemade disinfectant using vinegar here.
- Hydrogen Peroxide AND Vinegar: The two together make quite a pair for disinfecting. Susan Sumner, a food scientist, found that using both could completely kill salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria, even on highly contaminated surfaces! Spray a little vinegar on the surface you want to clean, then some hydrogen peroxide, and you'll be a sanitizing-machine.
- Essential oils: There are several essential oils that have been proven to have disinfectant properties. These include: tea tree oil, lemon, lime, lavender, and rosemary. Tip: Add a few drops of the oil of your choice into that diluted bottle of vinegar we just talked about.
- Borax: Borax is a salt of boric acid that has disinfecting and deodorizing properties. You can use it in it's powdered form, or dissolve it into water. This is the kind I buy.
Getting rid of the bleach and the dangers that comes with it is easy with these safe alternatives to bleach.
If you're a pinning-addict like myself, check out my Pinterest page. I'm always pinning about natural health and DIY homemade alternatives.