It’s so warm today I’m motivated to start my spring cleaning! I LOVE spring cleaning but certainly don’t want to expose myself to toxic cleaning products. Did you know that there are over 500 chemicals in the form of cleaning products and personal care products in the average home? You work hard to keep your diet clean, but you also need to think about what environmental toxins you can control. Some of those toxins are in cleaning products that are easily replaced with non-toxic versions that are just as effective.
Common Toxic Cleaners You May Be Using
Chlorine bleach is one of the oldest cleaners and one of the harshest. Chlorine bleach kills all kinds of germs, molds and mildew on contact. But it is very harsh if it comes into contact with your skin or if you breath it in. Manufacturers include chlorine bleach in a wide variety of cleaning products as well as some laundry and dishwasher detergents.
Undiluted ammonia is highly irritating to the eyes and respiratory system. As my organic chemistry teacher used to say “if you can smell it you are receiving it into your body.” Ammonia is good for cutting through grease and cleaning windows, but it is hard to avoid “receiving it” when you are using it.
You may not know that long term chronic exposure, may lead to harm to the respiratory system and can irritate and inflame the airways. Ammonia (along with other toxic chemicals) is found in common window cleaners.
Together, ammonia and bleach create a very toxic gas so should NEVER be used together!
Beware of These Chemicals
All of the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products are harmful to living things, harmful to the environment and should be avoided. As more people get on board with becoming greener, we are all better off. Some of the other chemicals in cleaning products are:
- Chlorinated phenols and phenols – toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems
- Diethylene glycol – depress the nervous system
- Formaldehyde – respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen
- Petroleum solvents – damage mucous membranes
- Perchloroethylene – liver and kidney damage
- Butyl cellosolve – damage to bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver
I could go on and on but you get the idea. All of these chemicals should have been banned, and some have been banned in Europe. They are associated with Superfund toxic waste sites and are listed in the toxins section of the U.S. Clean Air and Water Acts. They are harmful to humans and to the earth.
Toxins Not Required to Be on the Label
Not surprisingly, the manufacturers of household cleaning products are not required to list the ingredients of the product on the label. Although cleaning products are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, the proprietary ingredient information is protected by these government agencies.
How Clean do We Have To Be?
The Hygiene Hypothesis informs us to question how clean we actually need things. Research has shown that people who grow up exposed to more microbes are better off than folks who are too clean. Exposure to germs gives the immune system a chance to exercise and mature. Instead of trying to kill every microbe that comes our way — we should be encouraging the beneficial bacteria that we are made of and that surround us in our environment. Yes — we are actually made of more microbial cells than human cells.
Keep a clean house — but not too clean. Your microbiome will thank you.
Alternatives to Buy
Look for green and non-toxic cleaners that don’t contain chlorine, alchohols, triclosan, triclocarbon, lye, glycol ethers, or ammonia. Choose cleaners that are labeled petroleum-free, 90% biodegradable in 3 days, or phosphate-free, VOC-free, and solvent-free.
Non Toxic Homemade Solutions
The best and cheapest solution is to make your own cleaners at home – and it is so easy! Mommypotamus to the rescue with her fantastic e-book, DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes!
She uses baking soda and vinegar because they are good substitutes for the harsher chemicals. They kills mold and mildew, sanitizes counters and cutting boards, and removes stains from counters. These and some good old fashioned elbow grease to scrub out stains is much better than relying on a toxic cleanser to do it.
DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes is all You’ll Need to Clean Everything!
This e-book has 50 safe recipes for all the basic household cleaners you will ever need!
This e-book has it all! Check out some of the simple recipes in the book that really clean!
- Lemon and Lavender All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
- Goo and Gunk Remover
- Fruit and Veggie Wash
- Ruby Red Grapefruit Soft Scrub
- Oven Cleaner
- Tub and Tile Cleaner
- Oxygen Bleach
- Lemon and Rosemary Dusting Spray
- Leather Conditioner
- Stainless Steel Cleaner