Seniors should be wary of household cleaners labeled with the words “poison,” “toxic,” and “hazardous,” because these products contain chemicals that put their health at risk. The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) advises seniors to be cautious when handling or using household cleaners because chemicals more quickly penetrate the thin skin that is common in older adults.
PRC also warns that certain health conditions also make seniors more susceptible to the hazards of toxic cleaning products: seniors who use oxygen “should be aware that oxygen does not mix well with many household chemicals,” some seniors “have poor nutrition and/or may not drink enough water to sustain a buffer needed to minimize the effects of instantaneous poisonings,” older people with impaired vision may use products improperly, and medications may affect seniors’ “cognitive, sensory, and physical ability to safely use or manage hazardous products.”
The solution is for seniors to make the switch to green cleaning. No matter the time of year, you can clean your home from top to bottom and protect your health when you opt for non-toxic, natural cleaners. From scrubbing floors to making your bathrooms shine, green cleaning is just as effective, and it will help you protect yourself against harsh chemicals.
What You’ll Find in This Guide:
- Green Cleaning for the Kitchen
- Green Cleaning for the Bathroom
- Additional Reading on Green Cleaning for Seniors
Green Cleaning for the Kitchen
This section includes advice for the busiest room in your house, including washing dishes and cleaning your oven.
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You can keep your kitchen spotless and free of harmful bacteria without using bleach, ammonia, or other hazardous chemicals that put seniors’ health at risk. You can make many of these products using ingredients you likely already own.
- Green dishwasher detergent: Not only is traditional dishwasher detergent expensive, but it also contains hazardous chemicals. One option is to make your own dishwasher detergent. It’s worth noting that most natural detergents contain borax, which has a very low risk of potential toxicity. Wellness Mama recommends using two parts borax, two parts washing soda, one part citric acid, and one part salt to make homemade dishwasher detergent. You can add essential oils for fragrance, too.
If you prefer to hand wash your dishes, make a natural dish soap without toxins. You’ll need 1 3/4 cups boiling water, one tablespoon Borax, one tablespoon grated natural bar soap, and 14-20 drops of 100% pure essential oils for fragrance, if desired. Check out DIY Natural for further instructions.
- Green Oven Cleaning: Some of the most toxic ingredients found in chemical oven cleaners include lye, ethers, ethylene glycol, methylene chloride, and petroleum distillates. These cleaners create fumes that contribute to seniors’ breathing problems and are corrosive. You may experience burning eyes and throat, dizziness, and headaches when using chemical oven cleaners.
Kitchn recommends mixing 1/2 cup of baking soda with three tablespoons of water to create a spreadable paste. Coat your oven with it and give extra attention to greasy areas. Allow it to rest for 12 hours and then wipe the oven with a damp cloth to remove as much of the dried baking soda paste as possible. Use a spatula as needed for extra scraping power. Put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray areas with remaining baking soda residue. Wipe down with the damp cloth and repeat until the oven is clean and shiny.
- All-Natural Kitchen Cleaner: Vinegar is a powerful cleaner, but many people dislike its smell. The Pioneer Woman suggests mixing vinegar with water and antibacterial essential oils. Fill a spray bottle halfway with white vinegar and then fill it almost to the top with water. Then, use 15 drops of antibacterial essential oils per 25 ounces. The strongest antibacterial oils are cinnamon, oregano, and thyme. Feel free to add other scents to create the combination you like most. Then, spray on your kitchen counters and surfaces and wipe with a clean cloth.
Green Cleaning for the Bathroom
This section includes green cleaning advice for your bathroom, including your toilet, grout, and tub.
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You want to know that your bathroom is as clean as possible. You also want to deodorize it. Neither is a problem for natural cleaners. They also don’t require much elbow grease, so they’re perfect for seniors.
- Green toilet cleaner: Simple Life Mom says the most effective toilet bowl cleaner contains hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and 3-5 drops of essential oils like lemon, lavender, tea tree, or clove to disinfect and deodorize. Pour the hydrogen peroxide around the inside of the bowl, sprinkle with baking soda, and top off with the essential oils. Let sit for 15 minutes, scrub, and rinse with a flush.
- Tub and tile cleaner: Apartment Therapy offers several tips for natural bathroom cleaners. For scrubbing tub and tile, combine 1 2/3 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap. Then, add 1/2 cup water and two tablespoons vinegar. Shake well and apply with a cloth or sponge. Rinse well. Then, make a scouring powder for grout and tough-to-clean spots using one cup baking soda, one cup borax, and one cup kosher salt. Sprinkle the mixture, wipe with a sponge, and rinse.
Additional Reading on Green Cleaning for Seniors
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The following are resources for more information about green cleaning for seniors. You will find tips and advice for general green cleaning methods in addition to green cleaning products, which will help you protect your health. Please note, they are listed in alphabetical order by source.
Clean Mama’s How to Clean Hardwood Floors Without Vinegar
Natural Living Ideas’ 8 Best Natural & Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for Your Entire Home
The Strategist’s The Best Natural Cleaning Products
Do not exacerbate allergies, harm sensitive skin, or contribute to breathing problems by using harsh cleaning products. Seniors can avoid contributing to existing health challenges and creating new health issues by switching to green cleaning. Using a few common household ingredients, make non-toxic cleaners that will get your home just as clean as traditional products while protecting your health.