We finished meeting with a charming couple last week in their 40 year old home. After we said our goodbyes and walked to the car, I told my assistant I had such a headache. She said she did, too.
Whew! It must have been a tough consult.
However, when I got home that night and peeled off my clothes, I noticed that they smelled like flowers.
“What’s up with that?”
…And then a light bulb went off.
Our new clients’ home was filled with plug-in air fresheners. The fake, toxic fragrance not only created our headaches but also made me smell like I’d marinated my entire body in some bad perfume.
Unfortunately, artificial air fresheners dominate many of our clients’ homes, along with strong, chemical cleaners. We often explain the dangers of such things to our clients toward the end of their project, and they happily throw out those items for their own good.
Wondering exactly which “smell pretties” and household cleaners to NEVER keep in your home? Here’s our short list.
Don’t use plug-in air fresheners. (Yes, this is worth repeating.) These products trigger allergies and contain endocrine disruptors. I can’t stress enough how dangerous these products are for your indoor air quality. If you’ve got a funky odor, look for the cause of the odor (dirty air filters, water leaks causing hidden mold, etc).
Don’t use abrasive cleaners, because once an abrasive cleaner is used incorrectly the damage cannot be undone and if you clean your house regularly an abrasive cleaner should not be needed.
Don’t use cleaners that contain ammonia or chlorine bleach. You don’t need these toxic chemicals to get your house clean. I know your surfaces seem dull and dingy. This is because they are old. Putting harsh chemicals on an already distressed surface is not going to make it look better; it will only degrade it even more. Plus, your new finishes will wear out quickly (or even become damaged) if you use ammonia or chlorine bleach on them.
4 Safe & Effective Household Cleaners
We recommend using the mildest cleaning products you can find. We also like to limit the number of different cleaners because we don’t like to carry around a big cleaning caddy. That said, here are our top 4 suggestions:
For cleaning your floors, we use a drop of laundry soap in 2 gallons of warm water. The great thing about using laundry soap instead of other cleaners is that it is non-sudsy. Sudsy cleaners leave a film on floors. We also use an old fashioned rag mop and a bucket with a wringer because it is best to use only a slightly damp mop on wood, laminate or luxury vinyl planks.
For cleaning wood furniture, leather furniture, stainless steel fixtures, solid-surface countertops, and floors, we use Endust. Yup, you might think it’s only for dusting furniture, but this product works well on just about any surface. Before mopping your floors, try using a micro-fiber dust mop sprayed with Endust. You might not even need to damp mop!
For cleaning sinks, tubs, toilets and other plumbing fixtures, we recommend using Bar Keepers Friend. It comes in powder or liquid form and won’t scratch these surfaces. It tackles grime, mineral deposits, baked on food and stains without abrasion or bleach.
For cleaning glass and mirrors – DO NOT use any products with ammonia. Use Spray Away Window Cleaner. It is ammonia-free and won’t streak.
Lastly, your newly remodeled home will naturally off-gas for several months due to any new flooring, wood stains / finishes, and fresh paint. Because of this, we highly suggest you invest in an air purifier. Air purifiers have been known to reduce illnesses and allergies while improving the overall air quality of a home. Here is to your (healthy) new space!
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