Non-Toxic Household Alternatives
This page is a work in progress.
Pesticide is one of the most toxic substances known for humans. It can damage your nervous system (which includes your IQ), thyroid, immune system, endocrine system, kidneys and liver. It is used so extensively people have come to have no fear of it, but it is extremely dangerous to our health, both in the present and the long term. (For many links that provide information on what pesticide does to humans, search the internet for "pesticide danger to humans," for example.)
It is understandable, though, why people would resort to almost anything to get rid of roaches; they're unpleasant, filthy and breed germs. They reduce our quality of life and can make us sick. Fortunately, there are some non-toxic pesticides which work quite well, and for major infestations, there are some poisonous roach killers that can be used in a manner that doesn't expose us to them.
For major infestations, powder pesticide (which is still poison and deserves a healthy dose of respect) can be put onto surfaces so that you do not inhale it or absorb it through your skin—which is what happens with anything you spray, even hours or days after it has been sprayed. In addition, Combat roach baits, available at any grocery store or drugstore, placed where they do not come into contact with you, your pets or your food, are another relatively safe, effective poison. The problem with any poison is that the roaches eventually become immune to it, so you must rotate them. Or, better still, stick to the natural alternatives, because the roaches do not become immune to them, since they work in a different manner from the poisons.
One toxic but very effective powder pesticide is TEMPO. (Unfortunately, you cannot buy it in New York or have a web purchase delivered to a New York address unless you're an exterminator. You can get it in New Jersey, though.) DO NOT INHALE this! Use only if you do not have pets, or else place it totally out of their reach. When you apply, put on a good mask and gloves and place in cracks and crevices and on top of high cabinets, any place you or food won't be touching. It really kills the roaches within a week or less. It poisons their nervous system, and they take it back to the hive with them, and others eat them and get poisoned. You will see a lot of dead roaches. Remember, for every roach you see, there are many more in the walls. Because this is toxic, it should only be used in extreme cases, and only once. After you use it initially, you should be able to maintain using safer products.
This is the most effective non-toxic roach killer I've found. Use it liberally on dry surfaces. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans—you can actually eat it (although you shouldn't inhale it, any more than you would inhale any thick dust). It causes the roaches' shells to dry out from the inside out and kills them in a day or so. Two sources are Biocontrol Network's "Safer Ant & Crawling Insect Killer" and Herbal Remedies (haven't used this last one).
Old, tried and true roach killer. Not as deadly to the roaches as the diatomaceous earth above, but it does work, albeit more slowly and less drastically. I use Biocontrol Network's "Safer Roach & Ant Killing Powder" (boric acid with roach attractants so they walk through it). I mix either this or plain boric acid with the diatomaceous earth to make it last longer and give it a 1-2 punch.
Instant, non-toxic killer
Orange Clean® liquid (used to come in orange bottle, now in white). Orange oil kills the cockroaches on contact in one or two minutes by causing their shells to disintegrate (limonene, obtained from citrus, is the active ingredient; it can be toxic if inhaled, so don't inhale it!). I use this to spray visible roaches that I want to get rid of instantly (a large waterbug, for example, or roaches on kitchen cabinet). Harmless to humans, just smells strongly of oranges. You can get also get a large bottle of concentrate (you'll need a spray bottle to mix it). Orange Clean is my favorite, but there are two others, Orange Guard (I've used this, and it works, but found it too strong smelling and suspect the limonene is too strong to be healthy to humans) or another one (I found this one online but haven't tried it).
There is a super, inexpensive soap and household cleaner called Miracle II Soap®. Go to www.miraclesoap.com and you'll find some great products, all non-toxic. I use the regular Miracle II Soap for bathing and washing dishes and clothes. (There's also a Mircale II Soap® with moisturizers, which contains some natural oils.) The Neutralizer® gel is fabulous as a kitchen and bath cleaner; cleans better than anything I've ever used and has NO CHEMICALS or fumes. The Neutralizer liquid can be used as a spray or you can drink it as a stomach neutralizer and health booster. They all come as a concentrate and you dilute according to the strength you want. Very economical and great for cleaning—and for your health.
In order to get rid of mold, you have to kill it, not just clean it. White vinegar is the best thing around for killing mold, as well as germs, and is also terrific on soap scum and kitchen grease.
Chlorine bleach is highly toxic to humans, whether you inhale it or absorb it through your skin—or drink it in your water. For bleaching, I use Oxi-Clean® OLD original formula or Oxi-Clean Free®—they added synthetic fragrance to the new formula ("Versatile Stain Remover®"), which defeats the whole purpose for me, although it is hard to find anything else now (www.greatcleaners.com or www.drugstore.com, plus a lot of others).
Tap water contains large amounts of chlorine (see above) and other toxic substances. Since our bodies are composed largely of water, one of the most important things we can do to safeguard our health is drink clean water, i.e., water that is free of chemicals. In addition, when we shower, we absorb large quantities of chlorine through the skin, and chlorine and chloroform are released into the air and inhaled. The Aquasana® shower filter is one of the best out there in terms of the amount of chlorine it removes from your water. There is now a filter ball for the bathtub, too, that is pretty good for this purpose at Gaiam, for one.
To improve your drinking water (after filtration to remove the chlorine and contaminants—again, Aquasana is one of the best), add a tablespoon of M® Water to a gallon of water to make the water much more beneficial to the body and provide more hydration.
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