Cleaning Safely


A s the year 2000 approaches, there is hardly a comer of the world unpolluted by manmade chemicals. We as consumers created the demand for these earthdestroying substances and we now must do whatever we can to stop the destruction of our planet. A good place to start is at home.

Thanks to cleaning products and the many other chemicals that we use, our homes and indoor aviaries can be compared to miniature chemical factories. Indoor air pollution endangers not only human health but the health and longevity of parrots who are more sensitive and susceptible to damage by chemicals than we. Chemical levels can be up to 70 times higher inside our homes than outside. Over one hundred chemicals commonly found in our homes have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, psychological abnormalities, skin problems, headaches, depression, joint pain, chronic fatigue, chest pains, dizziness, loss of sleep, respiratory disorders, and more. The better insulated our homes and aviaries are, the more toxic the indoor air can be.

Chemical sprays never should be used near parrots. Heating and air con- ditioning systems can distribute the chemical toxins to every room in the home. Non-spray chemical solutions also can pollute indoor air. Even in outdoor aviaries, hazardous chemicals can be inhaled, ingested, and absorbed through the skin of birds' feet as they use perches with residual toxic chemicals improperly rinsed after cleaning. By becoming educated consumers and changing our methods of cleaning, we can improve the health and life expectancy of our birds and ourselves. By using non-toxic cleaning products, we protect the health of our families and birds while we promote a healthier environment. Here are some safe, alternative methods of cleaning our homes and aviaries.

All Purpose Cleaners

• Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a relatively new disinfectant that kills staph, strep, candida, salmonella, and e-coli microorganisms. It also is effective against Giardia. Citricidal is the powdered double-strength version of GSE and is available only through mail order. GSE is a liquid and is available in most health food stores. Nutribiotic, Agrisept, and ProSeed are some of the brand names of GSE. It is non-toxic
and can be used to disinfect surfaces in the kitchen, bath, aviary, and nursery. This versatile product has become the disinfectant of choice of many aviculturists. A few drops of GSE added to any cleaning solution will give it germicidal properties as well.

• Add 20 drops of NutriBiotic

GSE to a 32-ounce spray bottle filled with water. Use on all surfaces around the house and to clean fruits and vegetables before feeding to parrots.

• Baking soda with water is a

good all-purpose cleaner (1/4 cup baking soda to 1 quart water).

• Sprinkle baking soda on sur-

faces to be cleaned or make a paste with baking soda and a small amount of liquid soap. Scrub with a damp nylon scrubbing pad, soft cloth, sponge, or very fine steel wool.

• White distilled vinegar diluted

in water removes baking soda residue. Dry with a soft cotton cloth. Recycled cotton clothing serves as a good cleaning and drying cloth.

• Vegetable-based liquid soap,

such as castile soap diluted in water makes a good all-purpose cleaner.

• Soap jelly can be made by

adding 1 cup of soap flakes to 1 quart boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Pour into jar and let cool. Mix with water as needed.


• Multi-chemical sprays and

solutions are not necessary to clean appliances and surfaces in the kitchen.

• Mix a small amount of liquid

soap with water in a spray bottle. Mist surfaces and clean with a sponge or cloth. Wipe dry.

• Sprinkle baking soda, or make

a paste of baking soda and water; scrub with a wet sponge. If the baking soda leaves a residue, rinse with cold water and vinegar. Dry with a soft cloth.

• For stains on counters,

squeeze fresh lemon juice on the stain and allow to stand for 45 minutes. Sprinkle on baking soda, and rub with a sponge or soft cloth.