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Advice

If you think you’re breathing fresher air in your home than outside, guess again: our agents say many homeowners are unaware of the fact that levels of pollutants floating around indoors can be anywhere from two to more than 100 times higher than outdoors, according to the U.S. EPA.

Indoor pollution is due in large part to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate from home decorating and cleaning products. But don’t panic, here are several simple green-cleaning steps you can take to ensure you and your family are breathing quality air in your home:
  • Large and small cleaning brands are beginning to offer eco-friendly alternatives to their traditional cleaning formulas.  Check local stores, or go online to find out more.
  • Look for plant oils in detergents, rather than petroleum - coconut oil is a good choice. Eucalyptus, rosemary and sage oils are also safer choices than triclosan when it comes to disinfectants.
  • Use fragrance-free laundry detergents, which don’t contain cancer-causing phthalates.
  • Mix your own stain removers.Soak stains in water mixed with borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda or white vinegar.
  • Bring the outside freshness inside by opening a window. A no-brainer, but fresh air is a greener – and much more invigorating – way to freshen up a room than by using aerosol air fresheners.
  • Baking soda and vinegar get the green light as all-around cleaning alternatives. They can do anything from deodorizing to cleaning the oven or removing stains on countertops, bathtubs and toilet bowls.
  • For sparkling drinking glasses, occasionally soak them in a solution of vinegar and water.
  • Use the dishwasher – hand washing dishes actually wastes more water. Adding one cup of white vinegar to your dishwasher’s rinse compartment will leave your dishes spot free.
  • Avoid antibacterial, antimicrobial soaps.According to the FDA, they work no better than good old soap and water. Plus, they could even add to the risk of breeding “super germs,” bacteria that survive the chemicals we use and have resistant offspring.

Don’t throw out your old cleaning products. What’s bad for your home is also bad for drains and landfills, so check to see if your community holds toxic and electronics recycling days and discard them there. If your community doesn’t have a program yet, start one.