Use Tea Tree Oil and Vinegar to Clean Your Home

Filed under: In The News, Going Green, Chores

Before you break out the Mr. Clean and scrub your bathroom to a shiny, pristine glow, consider this: The use of disinfectants may cause existing bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics and the disinfectant itself, according to a study published in Microbiology.

Researchers from the University of Ireland found that when they added increasing amounts of disinfectant to the bacteria culture of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the bugs survived not just the disinfectant, but a commonly prescribed antibiotic (ciprofloxacin) as well, even without being exposed to it. P. aeruginosa has been shown to cause a wide array of infections, including ones in the urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract, along with pneumonia in immune-compromised individuals. What makes this bacteria strain especially dangerous is its ability to mutate and become resistant to different antibiotics.

Bleach (also labeled as Sodium Hypochlorite), is the most common disinfectant used all over the world. It's in everything from all purpose sprays, laundry whitener, bathroom cleaners, hair products and more. It is comprised of sodium hydroxide, water and chlorine. The fumes of many cleaners have high concentrations of chlorine, which can irritate the lungs. Chlorine in itself is highly corrosive and can damage the skin and eyes.

Eco-friendly cleaning alternatives, after the jump...
If you're thinking it's time to ditch the harsh cleaners and go green in 2010, you'll be happy to hear that it's not a hard switch to make these days. There are easy ways you can disinfect your home -- naturally -- and protect the environment, too.

Vinegar is a great cleaning alternative that is not only effective but also quite cheap. Heinz reports that the straight 5 percent solution of vinegar you buy in stores kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of germs or viruses. The makers reported that they cannot claim vinegar to be a "disinfectant" on the label, as it is not registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. For 1001 ways that vinegar can clean your home, click here.

Tea Tree Oil is another disinfectant that is an essential oil. It has been shown to fight not just bacteria but various fungi and viruses, too. Tea tree oil is commonly used on bacterial and fungal health conditions such as acne, blisters, warts and insect bites. You can purchase tea tree oil at your local health food store and use it as a powerful all-purpose cleaner.

Recipe for an all-purpose cleaner:

  • 2 tsp tea tree oil
  • 2 cups water
  • Spray bottle
Combine the oil and water in a spray bottle and use on surfaces in your home, or on commonly handled items such as toys, door knobs and handles.

No time to make your own eco-friendly cleaner? Here are a few brands we like:

Green Works Cleaners
Sapadilla Soap Co.
Method Home
Soleado Casa
Nature Clean Living

For more information on keeping your home clean and "green," check out Ecoholic Home by Toronto-based writer Adria Vasil.

Karla Heintz is a nutrition educator and author of Picky? Not Me, Mom! A Parents' Guide to Children's Nutrition.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.