A GOOD READ: Clean and green

Combine a penchant for a clean home and an aversion to strong smells and what do you get? Me.

I am that silly person who can’t even enjoy her newly cleaned home. Recently, I found myself questioning my cleaning routine, which basically consists of cleaning like crazy, then leaving for the day so I don’t have to sit in a beautiful apartment that reeks of toxic chemicals. Certain smells, especially those from detergents or cleaning agents, can bring on a headache.

Recently, I started using a cleaning agent touted for it’s “greenness,” safety and light fragrance. Still, I ended up diluting it halfway with water because it was too strong.

Let 2013 be the year that I clean with abandon. With a little help from a few books, I will create an arsenal of non-toxic cleaning supplies.

To better understand the science of stain removal, check out Planet Home by Jeffrey Hollender. Learn about the difference between alkaline and acidic cleaners, and which cleans what better.  Find recipes for homemade air fresheners, disinfectants, cleaning solutions for carpets, drains, windows, ovens, toilets, etc. Or for those who would like to make an informed decision about which commercially available cleaning products to buy, the book tells you which ingredients to watch out for. Planet Home also discusses a huge array of timely topics, including BPA, non-stick cookware, microwaves, antibacterial soaps, organic and local food, cloth diapers, cosmetics and more.

The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz validated my gut feeling with this quotation: “Let your senses be your guide. In this toxic world, the nose knows... Smell nothing and smell it often.” The authors take us on a tour of the house, room-by-room. There are quizzes for which you tally up a “danger” score. Then you can complete a Simple Solutions checklist. The scariness is balanced out by cute illustrations and conversational, easy-to-read text.

The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier was my next read — it had me at “Super-Easy.” A concise list of herbs and their beneficial properties (e.g., antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, etc.) was helpful in understanding what each herb can do. The sections Suggested Equipment and Making a Starter Kit were perfect for someone like me, who wanted to spend a little as possible but get a few basic ingredients to create my own natural cleansers. There are recipes for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, floor, walls — and even recipes for doing laundry.

Thanks to these books, my new weapons of mess-destruction will be non-toxic, biodegradable and have no synthetic fragrances.

A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Lisa Hansen is a reference library technician at Coquitlam Public Library



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