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With easy-to-find ingredients such as baking soda, cornstarch, foil, flour, lemon, mild soap, oil, salt, toothpaste, water and vinegar
(First of two parts)

MANY CLEANING PRODucts contain abrasive chemicals and artificial fragrances. Less than 30 percent of petrochemicals sold for home use are examined for their effects on the planet and people?s health, according to the US National Research Council.

For instance, sodium hypochlorite in chlorine bleach, when added to ammonia, releases toxic chloramine gas. Short-term exposure may cause mild asthmatic symptoms or more serious respiratory problems.

For better overall health, swap your harsh chemical cleaners for nontoxic, fully biodegradable, organic, plant-based brands like Victoria, Greenworks, Simple Green or MessyBessy (messybessy.com), which even gives you P10 off for every bottle returned for a refill.

Or, make your own cleaners instead!

Below are some recipes for commonly used cleaners that use only safe ingredients: baking soda, cornstarch, cream of tartar, foil, flour, lemon, mild soap, oil, salt, toothpaste, water and vinegar.

All-purpose cleaner

Phenol and cresol in disinfectants are caustic and can trigger diarrhea, fainting, dizziness, and kidney and liver damage.

Instead, try Simple Green multipurpose cleaner (P199.75, 946ml) or Messy Bessy Minty Orange surface cleaner (P220, 450ml).

Or, make your own by mixing 4 tablespoons baking soda with 4 cups warm water.

Drain cleaner. First, try a plunger. If that doesn?t work, pour ? cup baking soda down the drain and chase it with ? cup vinegar. Cover the drain.

Warning: Don?t do this after trying a commercial drain opener (which harms skin, eyes, lungs and the water supply); the vinegar can react with it and emit toxic gas.

If you?ve already used one, do this instead: Pour a cup of baking soda over the drain, followed by 3 cups boiling water. Hot water transforms baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to washing soda (sodium carbonate).

Floor cleaner and polish

Nitrobenzene in furniture and floor polishes is linked to cancer and birth defects and can lead to skin discoloration, shortness of breath, vomiting and death.

Instead, to remove soap scum, add a few drops of vinegar to your cleaning water. To polish wood floor, use 98-percent naturally derived Murphy oil soap concentrated wood floor cleaner (P369.75, 946ml), or mix a cup of cooking oil to a cup of vinegar and rub in with a soft cloth.

Wipe brick and stone tiles with a cup of white vinegar diluted in a gallon (16 cups) of water; rinse with water.

Metal cleaner and polish

Short-term contact to petroleum distillates in metal polish can cause transitory eye clouding. Longer exposure can harm the nervous system, skin, kidneys and eyes.

Instead, scrub aluminum with a mix of cream of tartar and water. To keep brass shiny, dip a soft cloth in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Clean chrome with baby oil, vinegar or the shiny side of aluminum foil. Tarnished copper can be reborn by boiling the item in a pot of water with a tablespoon of salt and a cup of white vinegar.

Get gold gleaming with toothpaste. Buff pewter with a paste of salt, vinegar and flour. Polish silver by dissolving a teaspoon each of salt and baking soda in an aluminum (or foil-lined) pan filled with hot water and the silver item.

Wipe stainless steel with vinegar or Simple Green stainless steel cleaner/polish (P399.75, 475ml).

For scouring powder, use baking soda or table salt as a scrub. Or, try Messy Bessy Eucalyptus all-purpose scrub (P220, 500ml).

In the bath

Air out bathrooms often. Molds make allergies and asthma worse. To stop mold growth, keep the bathroom window and door open often to circulate the air.

Dechlorinate. Half of chlorine intake happens in the shower. Chlorinated water, with more exposure, is associated with cancer of the bladder, liver, stomach and colon and makes asthma more likely. So, install a chlorine shower filter, which also helps remove smells, grime and residue that make skin dry, itchy and flaky, hair brittle, and irritate the eyes, lungs and sinus.

It will also decrease lime scale and mold and mildew deposits, which you can get rid of with lemon juice or by using Simple Green lime scale remover (P349.75) and Messy Bessy mold and mildew spray (P260, 450ml).

Toilet bowl cleaner

Hydrochloric acid or sodium acid sulfate in commercial toilet bowl cleaners can burn your skin or cause blindness if it accidentally hits your eye. If swallowed, it can trigger vomiting, diarrhea and stomach burns.

Instead, use Greenworks toilet bowl cleaner (P349.75, 709ml), or make your own by mixing ? cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar. Pour into basin and let set for a few minutes. Scour with brush and rinse (from eartheasy.com).

Tub and tile cleaner

Rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and wipe with vinegar (use sparingly as it can break down grout); scour with baking soda.

Window and glass cleaner

Ammonia in glass cleaner causes headaches and irritates eyes and lungs. Instead, mix 2 teaspoon vinegar in a liter of water and wipe with newspaper. Avoid streaking by not cleaning windows when the sun is out. Or, try Messy Bessy Squeaky Clean Window Cleaner (P260, 450ml).

In the kitchen

Freshen up. Open windows and doors. Place little dishes with vinegar around the kitchen to neutralize repulsive cooking odors. Boil cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pan of water to scent the air.

Sprinkle ? cup baking soda below trash cans or diaper bins to stop mold and bacteria from causing odors. Rub vinegar on hands before and after slicing smelly food like onions to remove the odor.

Dry naturally. Use dish and hand towels made from natural fabrics.

Scour sensibly. Polyurethane sponges don?t biodegrade. 3M makes natural bamboo cleaning cloth (P269.75) and natural fiber scour pads (2 for P169.75), but while packed in recycled cardboard with no plastic, the scour pad, while containing 50-percent natural agave plant, is still 50-percent plastic, so it doesn?t biodegrade either.

Better options are 3M?s Biodegradable Expanding Soft Sponges (3 for P219.75) that expand when wet, are reusable, long-lasting and compostable. Expandable means less packaging, waste and storage space before use.

3M?s Greener Clean Absorbent Cloths (3 for P199.75) are also a great alternative to paper towels (outlasts 16 rolls). They wipe like a cloth, absorb like a sponge, are washable, reusable and biodegradable.