A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Cleaning Products and Organic Claims

I recently came across a product that contains a new miracle herb from Australia. This herb will do everything from curing cancer to cleaning your home. What a fantastic product. I wonder if people ever stop to think about such proposals. We seem so excited by organic claims, and traditional medical techniques using herbs are making a resurgence, so we latch on to these wonder cures.

Most research about the properties of herbs, and the abilities of those compounds are being examined in Germany and in England by a German researcher there. It has been a mixed bag or results, which has caused one group or another to be upset with their findings. On the one hand, these studies have shown that traditional herbal remedies have a place in our medical fields, but they have also shown that some claims just cannot be substantiated. It is the wilder statements of this herb can do anything that fall flat.

Where does this leave the consumer when we want a good product to clean our homes? Stores that specialize in the organic area, like Whole Foods, do sell products which fit the bill. They are cheaper than the cure-all herbal products, but more expensive than other cleaning supplies. These goods are designed to break down quickly after use, so they do not harm the environment as other products would. They make no claims to cure all that ails, but they do attempt to find natural materials that will not be so dangerous for use. One name brand is Seven Generations, and I found their products to be quite effective.

However I worked as a janitor once, when working my way through college, and later I oversaw a facilities department for a firm, and through these experiences I found that most standard cleaning chemicals are fine when used correctly. Many people just over use cleaning products, causing the problem of too much in the environment. For example, a good window cleaner, is a bucket of water with a light squeeze of dishwashing fluid. Water does the cleaning. The fluid helps surround the dirt to make it easier to remove. You can create your own window cleaning solution by taking a cup of rubbing alcohol, a cup of ammonia, and two cups of water. This solution is great for jobs around the house, when used as a light spray. Sometimes I use just a few tablespoons of bleach in a bucket of water for cleaning jobs. Ammonia and water is good for carpet cleaning, and a light sprinkle of baking soda is good for removing carpet odors. If you are mixing these products, never mix bleach and ammonia. This produces a deadly gas. My basic cleaning kit includes bleach, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, salt, and baking soda. I use salt or aluminum foil for scrubbing pans or other surfaces.

The main point to remember is that you do not need large quantities of these products, nor do you need some of the fancier cleaning brands. Moderation is the key. Distrust claims which state that they can help you with a variety of concerns. Being wise as to how a product is used is far more important than the contents of that product.


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