Feel like you need to purify your home sans scary chemicals? Check out these non chlorine bleach alternatives!
My quest to find non chlorine bleach starts from a deep place in my heart. In college, I was the only person in my room of four to come with cleaning supplies…and definitely the only person to ever use them. I take pride in my personal hygiene and would consider losing healthfulness because of uncleanliness–i.e., tooth decay, infections, even food poisoning–far worse of an ailment, and a mark of moral failing, than if I were to get sick any other way. Some people might say this kind of thinking is anal or even verging on obsessive, but, especially as someone living in New York where dirt and grime are as abundant as people, I think it’s totally appropriate.
Picture my reaction, then, when I read this article about mold toxicity. It happened to go up right as I was embarking upon a stretch of more-than-usual free time between jobs, during which I planned a whole-apartment scrub down. (Some people would take time like this to go on vacation; I clean.) The bathroom was already high on my list, for although I cleaned it regularly, I knew that it would benefit from some elbow grease. I am very near-sighted, so my ability to accurately judge the cleanliness of my all-white shower/tub area when I’m bathing, sans glasses and full of SLS-free body wash, is limited. But seeing a picture of fuzzy spores, and the description of what they can do to your insides as they lurk in all areas of your home, horrified me into immediate action. Plus, I’d suffered from nearly all of the symptoms of mold toxicity lately (insomnia, fatigue, allergies, digestive issues, joint pain, etc.), which doesn’t count for much given my hypochondria and the ubiquity of those symptoms, but still…
I started with my usual arsenal of cleaning supplies and techniques: I sprayed down the shower with Trader Joe’s plant-based multipurpose spray, which leaves a fresh, woodsy Cedarwood and Sage scent, turned on the water super-hot for a few minutes, then closed the door to let the steam work through the grime. But I found that as I wiped down the tile and tub, there was still a lot of residue and, most disturbingly, those pesky little black spots of the m-word embedded in the grout. Desperate for clean, I mixed up a paste of Ajax, baking soda, and vinegar, applied it on all the grout with a toothbrush, then after several hours of soaking scrubbed the mold away with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
By the time I was done, I felt super good about myself and Power Posed like Mr. Clean himself. What felt less good was the burning in my fingertips from scrubbing with Ajax, a powdered bleach cleanser that debuted in 1947, i.e. the age of the housewife. I knew that harsh chemicals were behind this sensation, and it wasn’t one I wanted to lather, rinse, and repeat. So I started researching natural non chlorine bleach alternatives that could achieve the same kind of disinfecting power without harming my body, or the earth, in the same or worse way than leaving the mold behind would.
Here are some DIY solutions to try the next time you want your home and laundry to be as bright and shiny as they can be (i.e., like, always).
Non Chlorine Bleach
- Vinegar: Vinegar has a bad rap for its smell, but when I weigh enduring an unpleasant smell against being dirty, the former overwhelmingly wins. On its own or mixed equally with water, it cuts through grease and oil easily; and mixed with baking soda, it becomes a powerful foam that eliminates tough stains especially on things like cookware. I’ve used vinegar and baking soda to unclog toilets, shine teapots, and remove the coffee odor lingering in my to-go mugs. It can also elevate your yoga practice in a natural mat cleaner, that won’t set you back as much as the class itself! Indeed, the fact that these two things are SO inexpensive makes it seem silly to waste money on fancy, and chemical-ridden, cleaning supplies.
- Peroxide: Similar to what I concocted with the Ajax, this solution is a multipurpose wonder agent useful for surfaces and whitening clothes. Combine 3 parts each hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, 1 part lemon juice, and 28 parts of water. Add a few drops of essential oil for scent if you like (lemon or eucalyptus).
- Borax: This natural mineral salt has anti-fungal and detergent properties, and because it has a bit of grit can tackle pesky stains and residue. Mix 1/2 cup with 1 liter of water with an essential oil of your choice.
- Castile Soap: If you’ve seen a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s, you know there are about a million ways to use it (and if you’ve really read it, you’ve found nice catch-phrases like “Love is like a willful bird!”), from hair and body, to fruits and vegetables, to laundry and bathrooms. It’s gentle and effective and fair trade and cruelty-free and similarly inexpensive for what you can get from it; in other words, 100% amazing. Made from natural oils, like coconut and olive, it works like the user-popular oil face cleansers you see nowadays: like eliminates like, so the oil removes dirt and grease. There are dozens of scent options, but I’m partial to the Hemp Rose and Hemp Tea Tree, which brings me to…
- Tea Tree Oil: You’ve likely seen this ingredient in acne products before; it clears skin by killing pimple-causing bacteria, and it will do the same for your home. Mix with water and vinegar (it smells so good on its own it doesn’t need more oils) for household cleaning.
For all the solutions above, you can mix them up in a spray bottle to conveniently use on surfaces, or simply store in a container for laundering. Another plus with these DIY alternatives is that they cut down on your plastic consumption by eliminating the need for excess spray bottles, etc. Double score for you and the planet!
Are you ready for some good clean fun? Tell us about your favorite chlorine free bleach alternatives!
Also by Jennifer: Why a Bullet Journal ® Will Help You Conquer 2017 Like a Boss Lady
Photo: Pexels, Jennifer Kurdyla, Dr. Bronner’s