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My sister convinced me to hire her housecleaners. They've come 3 times and each time I get headaches and nausea from the chemical smell- which other people don't think is strong. Dh just came home and says he can't smell anything, but my throat is burning. My house is alway slightly messy and I clean with vinegar, baking, soda and Dr. Bronner's lavendar soap only. But when they clean it sparkles. But I feel sick from it.

Is this possible that regular cleaning products can have health risks if used only occasionally by housecleaners but I don't keep them in the house?

If so, is it better to have it slightly grungy? That's how I've lived all my life- not totally pigged out but not sparkling clean either.

HELP!!!!
 

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OK- I was thinking- if I could offer them my own chemical-free products that would work well- can anyone give me recipes? I just use baking soda out of the box, vinegar and water in a spray bottle and the Dr. Bronners and Murphy's oil soap (for hardwoods)in my mop bucket.

Is there a better, more effective way to mix these products to clean? Like what about the toilet? I just use baking soda and a brush. I worry about their brushes and stuff going in other people's toilets and floors, though...
 

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Oh my goodness yes!!! There is a MAJOR healthh risk even for having these people come only occasionally to clean with their chemical cleaners. I would specify to them that when they come, they are so use only the cleaners provided by you(including toilet brushes, washclothes, etc.). If you are having headaches and becoming nauseous in your own house, that's wrong. Your house is your sanctuary, your life. Don't let this happen. Call the company or the person and discuss with them how important chemical-free living is to you and your family. If they are a good company, they will comply with what you ask to keep you as a paying customer. Don't feel like you are putting them out. YOU are the customer and it's YOUR money, so get what you want out of it. I too get headaches and nausea from those chemical filled cleaning products. I feel sick and dizzy and I won't tolerate it, even to get my house sparkling clean. The way I figure it, if my child can play on the floor safely and I dont' panic when a cheerio from the floor gets eaten, my house is clean enough! I clean only with baking soda, murphy's, and vinegar. good luck.
Meg
 

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Thanks, Meg. That puts my mind at ease about my decision- I have decided to go back to cleaning my own house as I was doing- I am more scared to let the kids eat off the chemically-cleaned floor than my formerly unsparkling floor.

I have been unhappy about my clean house all day.
It will take awhile to air out. I told them no pledge for dusting- I had no idea they were using other spray cleaners on the counters, windowsills and kitchen table. My eyes are burning when I get near this computer table to type. The other 2 times I was out of the house when they cleaned and it was summer with the windows open, so I didn't realize how strong the stuff was.
 

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I totally recommend "clean house, clean planet" by Karen Logan. It's a great book with good recipes for cleaning products using non-toxic items like vinegar, baking soda, etc., boosed with essential oils. I've felt so much better about cleaning since I started using these recipes.

DH and I decided against a cleaning service for the same reason. I didn't like the thought of all those chemicals floating around in the house.
 

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Thanks! I just put a hold on that book at the library.
 

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Monica, glad I put your mind at ease. I used to obsess over cleanliness especially with my daughter eating off the floor, but now I am a little more laid back. What's the worst she could get off the floor other than good old-fashioned dirt???? I mean, I eliminated all chemicals from my home, we eat organic, and I try to generally live in harmony with the earth. My baby is getting all that's natural and if my house isn't sparkling because of that, well then I guess that's a small price to pay!
Meg
 

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This is my first post -- I hope I'm doing this right.

I'm in a similar situation -- I hired a cleaning lady and now my house stinks of something -- maybe air freshener or carpet freshener. I think I will specify that she only use my products. She worked very hard to clean accumulated grime, and I didn't want to say, here, clean my filthy house with a toothbrush and some vinegar! But I think I will set some limits. (I'm also not willing to give her up quite yet -- at least not until she's done her deep clean on the whole house.)

I'm going to put slightly diluted BioKleen Cleaner in my Mr. Clean bottle. Any ideas how much I should dilute it?

Is there a good substitute for Pledge? I don't want to make her job too complicated, but I do want to control the environment in my own home. I should be able to do that, right? Even with someone else doing the cleaning?

Thanks!

Alison
 

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nak

Yes, as faerybugmady said, it can be a huge health threat. I just want to elaborate a little, though. There is a little heard of illness called Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, which is very life-altering. Speaking from experience, it's devistating!! What it is, in a nutshell, is a severe sensitivity to virtually all chemicals, even in very small quantities (i.e. dyes in clothes, the small amount of pesticide residue left in conventionally grown cotton clothes, toothpaste, regular mattresses, the list goes on and on...). The particular things a person is sensitive to varies, so those are just examples. It generally is accompanied with multiple food allergies and inhalent allergies ( mold, pollens, etc.). It is rare that a person doesn't have to quit work, move, and live isolated. Some people never get better, but some of us are blessed and lucky. I have worked very hard, we've had experiences that we wish we hadn't, and our lives are very different than we ever envisioned them before I got sick, but now I have a more normal life than I thought possible (thanks in part to pregnancy!!). I'm not trying to scare you, but wanted you to know that these cleaning chemicals are a very real and serious threat to your health (especially considering the reactions you describe having).

Now, that said, I'm all for having someone clean your house if you can afford it, but if I were you I'd insist that they use your cleaners, brushes, cloths, etc. In fact, ask her to come empty-handed. I'd be surprised if this were a problem, since the main objective for these people/companies is to make money. You'd actually be saving them money by supplying the cleaning supplies. And if the person/company doing it now doesn't want to do it, I'm sure there's someone else out there who would like your business.

You'd need to be organized and have everything she needs together in a bucket or something. And label the cleaning supplies with labels that she would be familiar with (like "all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant" or "floor cleaner" or something like that). My favorite "all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant" is this: in a quart spray bottle, put about 1 cup of very hot water (this is just to dissolve the borax, it doesn't need to be hot when you use it); add 2 tsp. borax and swish around a bit to dissolve; add 2/3 cup distilled vinegar; add hot water to fill to the line; add 2-3 squirts of liquid soap and a few drops of GSE (only if you will need to kill mold while cleaning). That's it. I keep the recipe taped to the spray bottle so that I don't have to look it up when the bottle's empty, but that may or may not work if someone else is using it. This cleaner works well for pretty much everything we do: the glass-top stove (or any stove, for that matter), the sinks, the counters, the toilet (not the bowl, but everything else), the floor when ds pees or poops on it, etc. For windows and mirrors, I use a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and water to fill a quart squirt bottle. For the first time using it (if other cleaners have been used on the glass), mix 1/2 tsp. liquid soap in too. That will help get rid of the residue. I sometimes put the soap in anyway, since my windows tend to get *really* dirty before I clean them.
: For the toilet bowl, I pour some borax in (I don't measure, but it's probably about 1/2 cup) and some vinegar (again, I don't measure, but it's about 1-2 cups). I usually let it sit while I clean the rest of the bathroom. We have hard water, though, so you may not need so much vinegar. I don't know how you'd have the toilet bowl cleaner ready and prepared for your cleaning person to use -- maybe have the borax in baggies, already "measured" for single use, and maybe do the same with the vinegar in jars.

HTH

Christie

ETA: Not everyone with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities has such a hard time as I described. To some it's an annoyance, but not life-altering. But for those with the less severe reactions it could get worse if they're exposed something bad.
 

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you don't have to go back to doing it all yourself! just tell your cleaning folks that you will provide the materials and that it is important that they only use them and not the commercial stuff for an unspecified health reason.

biokleen has a good line, and the cheapest thing to do is get the biokleen grapefruit degreaser which you can use in diff concentrations for glass, heavy duty stuff (like stoves), laundry, etc and mix them in labeled bottles to make it easy for the cleaner. i had a great guy but he died (and BTW, all the cleaning chemicals aggravated his immune disorders within the few months he started his cleaning business.) now i need to hire someone, sigh, and i am so neurotic about who comes in my home and goes through my stuff.
 

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I've found that Baking Soda will make most surfaces and silvers sparkle!

And so does Envirorite tub and tile cleaner
 
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