Friday, December 18, 2009

How to Make a Simple Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner

When it comes to cleaning your home, it sometimes seems like there is no green alternative to chlorine bleach for its sheer usefulness and utility. It cleans and sanitizes, and is effective, on mold and mildew, kill viruses and so much more. It seems like the perfect solution. The dirty little secret of chlorine bleach is that is extremely toxic in almost every household dilution, and its residue remains on surfaces for a long time, and it also tends to hang out in the air for a very long time. Another dirty little secret of chlorine bleach is that when it mixes with some other cleaning solutions, particularly acid based chemicals chlorine gas is created.

Ok, I know you have been using bleach for years, you love the smell of it. It reminds you of grandma’s house, who by the way washes her fruit in the stuff. How bad can it be? We’ll it is just a matter of degrees. Bleach is not the worst thing around your house by far. The cleaning solution that I recommend below, will allow you to get rid of 90% of all of the cleaning solutions that you keep around your house, most of which are worse than bleach, and many which have been linked to ADHD, cancer, and neurological disorders. I recommend you search out for yourself what is best for you and your family and find out if you can do something simple to reduce your exposure to those risks.

Now that all of that is behind, you are asking “Well what do you recommend then?” In my cleaning service, I use hydrogen peroxide based cleaning solutions. They are safe and effective, and can stand up to even some of the hardest cleaning jobs around your home. Hydrogen peroxide leave no residues or toxins and breaks down to water and oxygen, while safely cleaning and disinfecting.

If you don’t want to mix your own, and I can’t blame you, there are quite a few out there that work great. My personal recommendation on a product line that you can find in almost all stores is the Seventh Generation products. They work great, are priced competitively and can be readily found at many retailers. Look around and you may even be able to find a company that is making something locally, and I always advocate that if it is an option. I use the Evirox H2O2 concentrates, but they are not readily available for purchase through traditional retailers, however they can be found online.

The first thing to know about why hydrogen peroxide is such a powerful cleaning agent is recognize that it is a strong oxidizer, and is especially effective on organic compounds such as blood, dirt, food, or other naturally occurring products. The key to using hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent is to use it in concentrations that are effective, but not too strong. When hydrogen peroxide is in too strong of a concentration it is an effective bleaching agent, and you may even recognize it as a common house cleaner, for example Oxy Clean. For the purposes of household general cleaning we will leave that topic for now, as that is not what we are trying to accomplish. But for those that are interested the chemical compound is sodium percarbonate powder or granules that are mixed with a stabilizer such as soda ash.

Note: These formulas and substitutions are offered to help minimize the use of toxic substances in your home, and reduce the environmental harm caused by the manufacture, use and disposal of toxics. Results may vary and cannot be guaranteed to be 100% safe and effective. Before applying any cleaning formulations, test in small hidden areas if possible. Always use caution with any new product in your home. Keep out of the reach of children, and do not drink. I am sure I could come up with dozens of warnings. As with anything, use good judgement.

For household cleaning the dilutions of hydrogen peroxide should be kept well below 6%. That is even an extremely strong concentration. I use two concentrations for general purpose cleaning, heavy duty and light duty. The heavy duty concentration is for use as a bathroom cleaner including sinks, counters, toilets, shower stalls, and the floors around the toilet. It is also a heavy duty wipe down cleaner and disinfectant. Heavy duty also makes a great spot cleaner for carpets and most fabrics. The light duty solutions is greater for wiping and hand dusting of most surfaces throughout your home. It also effectively cleans glass and mirrors, and stainless steel.

For a heavy duty concentration use 4 ounces of hydrogen peroxide per 1 liter spray bottle. You can add castile soap (up to ½ an ounce) if you like, and even a bit of lemon juice (up to ½ and ounce) if you would like some degreasing properties and a fresh lemony scent. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water, label and enjoy. Again test it out on a small area to make sure that it works well, and with out any adverse effects.

For a light duty concentration use 1 ounce of hydrogen peroxide per 1 liter spray bottle. Again add up to a ½ ounce of castile soap if you like, and up to a ½ ounce of lemon juice. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water and enjoy.

Also to be noted that hydrogen peroxide cleaners need to be kept in opaque bottles to remain effective. Otherwise the break down into oxygen and water when exposed to light.

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