Households all across the nation use an arsenal of cleaning products to keep their homes in good working order.

With the prevalence of food-borne illness on the rise, such as E. coli and Salmonella, a clean home is more important than ever.

The question is posed then as to whether or not there are green options for cleaning supplies. Do they carry the same punch?

Many of today's most popular brands are full of harmful chemicals. On our own the contribution may seem minimal. Yet, as each household sends these chemicals down the drain, the impact on the environment increases exponentially. This harsh impact has many green activists searching for ways to use earth-friendly cleaners.

Here are ways that you can take your cleaning "green".

First, be sure to only buy products that fully disclose their ingredients. Some brands list exactly what is in their products right on the package. Choose these over brands with lists of chemicals no one can pronounce.

Next, buy products that are free of dyes and perfumes. You may be tempted to buy fabric softener or laundry detergent that is scented like the “lavender fields of France,” but dyes and perfumes are polluting our waters every day. Clean laundry smells just as good as perfumed laundry.

The next consideration is botanical disinfecting agents. Essential oils, the inner workings of plants and flowers, have been proving their worth.

Take thymol, for example. It is produced by the thyme plant and works wonders for disinfecting.

The Seventh Generation brand is popular and easily found in stores across the nation. They have found that their natural disinfecting cleaner, “Kills over 99.99% of household germs, specifically: Influenza A viruses including H1N1, Rhinovirus (type 37, the Common Cold virus), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa on hard, nonporous surfaces.”

And finally, think about using homemade cleaners. Vinegar is a tried and true cleaning favorite. It is great for cleaning windows, spills on carpets, working on home odors, removing toilet stains, and the list goes on and on.

That's why some people call it the “miracle cleaner”.

No, natural cleaners are not the ultimate substitute for bleach and other tough cleaners. There are times when it is necessary to use these. However, there are plenty more times in our daily lives that gentler, more natural cleaners are the perfect fit.

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