The germ theory of disease is alive and well in this country, where Americans use 25 percent of the worldŐs production of household cleaners costing some $25 billion a year. Of course the idea about all this cleaning is the more we destroy harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and other pathogens the safer we are.

Not necessarily true say public health officials. Studies show that more than 150 chemical cleaners found under your kitchen sink are linked to birth defects, cancer and psychological disorders. They also trigger allergic reactions, asthma, irritate the eyes and throat and can cause chemical sensitivities to say nothing of the fact that they pollute the environment and cause mutation in the germ survivors leading to strains of antibiotic resistant super bugs.

Too clean can mean less healthily-developed immunity for our children. Bacteria and viruses are needed to challenge and strengthen an infantŐs immune defenses. The New England Journal of Medicine sites that some infection in childhood protects against the development of asthma and allergies later in childhood.

Back to the basics:

Stop using antibacterial products for dishes and hand washing. Studies show that to safely clean and kill bacteria the most important part of cleaning, dish washing and hand washing is soap, friction and warm to hot water. Antibacterial products do not kill all the bacteria. These products when over used on the skin disrupt the natural flora of bacteria on the skin leaving it dry and vulnerable to cracking, open sores and eczema.

Two of the most popular natural cleaning agents are baking soda and vinegar. Vinegar by itself cuts grease, dissolves calcium and lime deposits in coffee pots and on bathroom fixtures, and cleans and sanitizes cutting boards, counter tips and other kitchen surfaces. Microwave your wet sponges and dish cloths frequently.

Vinegar is good in the laundry replacing stain removers and fabric softener-the odor dissipates quickly leaving your laundry smelling very fresh. Add baking soda to vinegar for grimier surfaces. The cleansing powder effect will not scratch finished surfaces. For tougher sink and toilet bowl stains mix borax and lemon juice into a paste and apply to stained surfaces.

Orange oil products or beeswax makes good furniture polish without petroleum distillates, phenols and other potentially dangerous neurotoxins. The newer electrostatic dusters for floors and other surfaces grab dust and clean non-wood surfaces without chemicals.

Tea Tree Oil is another wonderful all round cleaner for disinfecting the kitchen and bathroom. Mix 15 drops per quart of water. Have some left over? Use the remaining mixture in the basement or attic to deter pests like squirrels and mice. They hate the smell. It also works to deter cockroaches, crickets and moths.

A clean well-maintained air purifier will keep the air in your home cleaner and less polluted with illness causing pathogens and they are a better choice than products that contain artificial fragrances and irritating chemicals. A humidifier in winter keeps nasal passages healthy and less vulnerable to invasion.

For more on cleaning alternatives check out this web site Till next time, Rebecca