Body Talk: Clean without Chemicals; Sick of Housework? or Maybe It's All the Products You're Using to Get a Spotless Home That Are Making You Ill. Here's How to Banish Dirt the Natural Way. by RACHEL MURPHY

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL MURPHY

GRIME-BUSTERS Kim and Aggie from TV's How Clean Is Your House? had the right idea all along by scrubbing with natural ingredients whenever possible.

New research has linked the frequent use of aerosol sprays and air fresheners to higher levels of diarrhoea and earache in children.

It also found that people using furniture polish daily are more prone to get headaches and 26 per cent more likely to experience depression.

It's all because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by such products. "Cleaner may not necessarily mean healthier," warns Dr Alexandra Farrow of Brunel University. "Air fresheners combined with other aerosols and household products contribute to a complex mix of chemicals and a build-up of VOCs."

Personal hygiene products don't escape either, with deodorants and hairspray topping the bad list, although these are required by law to be safe in normal use.

So how do you get by without your heavy duty loo cleaner or fragrant fridge freshener? Here's our guide on the natural way to a dirt-free home.

l FOR more tips: How Clean Is Your House? by Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie (pounds 7.99, Penguin), Recipes For Natural Beauty by Katie Spiers (pounds 10.99, Marshall).

KITCHEN

GENERAL

FRIDGE DEODORISERS: May cause headaches and depression.

ALTERNATIVE: Fill a stocking with ground coffee and leave in the fridge.

AIR FRESHENERS: Sprays, sticks and aerosols are all linked to earache and diarrhoea in children, and depression in adults.

ALTERNATIVE: Simmer 1tbsp vinegar in a cup of water on the hob to get rid of cooking smells.

ANTIBACTERIAL WASHING UP LIQUIDS They contain triclosan which may be toxic.

ALTERNATIVE: Good old Fairy Liquid is best. For scouring, use a plain wire or nylon pad and old-fashioned elbow grease.

WORK SURFACES

SPRAY CLEANERS: Same possible harmful effects as with all other aerosols.

ALTERNATIVE: Apply baking soda directly with a damp cloth and gently wipe work surfaces clean.

For stainless steel draining boards: Clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar.

For tiles: Wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda.

OVEN OVEN CLEANERS: These may cause eye irritation, headaches and possible nerve damage.

ALTERNATIVE: Moisten oven surfaces with a sponge and water. Sprinkle several layers of baking soda on the surface and leave for an hour. …