Look at most of the bottles under your kitchen sink and you'll find their labels have at least one thing in common, usually in bold print: "Keep Away From Children." Or maybe "Out of Reach." Diction aside, the message is pretty clear: Your kids shouldn't be touching these things.
But what if your child (lucky you) wants to help you clean the house? Is that simply not in cards?
In fact, your child can handle many cleaning products, but they may not be the ones under your sink right now. Here, a rundown of some kid-safer cleaning substances your child can use to wipe down a surface or two.
Are Most Cleaning Products Safe for Kids to Handle?
If you've ever cleaned a stall shower, you know that most commercial cleaners are not particularly pleasant to inhale. And if you don't much enjoy breathing, touching, smelling or being anywhere near it, it's probably not safe for your child.
Household cleaners in general can be pretty harsh. It could be the ammonia, chlorine, ethylene glycol, bleach, butyl cellusolve or ortho phenylphenol, depending on what you're washing. So if your little one is dying to help, try one of these alternatives:
- Baking soda -- Deodorizing, scratch-free scouring (bathtub, bathroom tile); make paste with water
- Olive oil -- Wood polish
- Microfiber cloth -- Glass, dusting
- Vinegar or lemon juice -- Cuts through grime, disinfects (great for kitchen and bathroom); dilute with water
- Toothpaste -- Polishes metal fixtures
Each of these natural, nontoxic and cheap cleaners is great on its own and safe for the kiddies (always, of course, with instruction). They can also be safe, excellent all-purpose cleaners you and your helper can use all over the house.
Especially if you know how to combine them...
Multipurpose, Multi-surface: Which are the Safest?
Vinegar, baking soda and -- guess what -- soap (yes, soap!) are some of the greatest, time-tested, all-purpose cleaners. They're also safe for kids to handle as long as they're used properly -- meaning they don't get dumped in eyes or mouths, for a start.
Used in combination, these substances can be even more impressive -- and still nontoxic. Try out one of these all-purpose-cleaner recipes the next time you and your little one have a cleaning day:
- Combine 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 gallon water
- Combine 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon soap flakes, 2 cups hot water
- Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Combine salt, water and a splash of vinegar (to desired consistency)
While these are all great cleaning solutions that have stood the test of time, there is at least one modern addition that it's tough to do without and is perhaps the most kid-friendly all-purpose cleaner yet: the aforementioned microfiber cloth. It picks up practically everything, won't scratch a thing, and is especially effective on glass. Hand one to your little helper, sit him in front of a mirror, and watch it shine -- streak free.
For more information on kid-safe cleaners, check out the links on the next page.
- Bartos, Lorene. "Are Cleaning Products Safe?" University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension. (Dec. 24, 2010)http://lancaster.unl.edu/home/Articles/2002/CleaningProducts.htm
- Eartheasy. "Non-toxic Home Cleaning. (Dec. 24, 2010)http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
- Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. Guide to Less Toxic Products. (Dec. 24, 2010)http://lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=household
- Environmental Working Group. "Safe Cleaning Tips for Your Home." (Dec. 24, 2010)http://www.ewg.org/schoolcleaningsupplies/safecleaningtips
- Hollender, Jeffrey, Geoff Davis and Reed Boyle. "Recipe for Safety." iVillage. March 8, 2007. (December 24, 2010)
- Mrs. Clean USA: Cleaning Products (Dec. 24, 2010)http://www.mrscleanusa.com/en/cleaning-tips/cleaning-products/tips-all-purpose-cleaner.html