Are you looking forward to Daylight Saving Time this weekend? I know I am! Although it makes it more difficult to get up in the morning, I’m excited that it will be light out later. It will really start to feel like spring then! Thinking about spring makes me think of spring cleaning. I try to do a really deep cleaning a few times a year to get rid of things I don’t need or use, reorganize everything, and clean under the furniture, in the cabinets, and other places that I kind of ignore in my usual cleaning. Do you do spring cleaning at your house?
What cleaning products do you like to use? Did you know that, depending on which cleaning products you are using, that they can be extremely harmful, and can affect the health of you and your family? They can even affect the health of your pets! Although many of these products may make your house sparkle and smell fresh and wonderful, the chemicals found in these products are poisonous if ingested, can contribute to indoor pollution, and are very damaging and unsafe if inhaled or touched!
What makes these cleaning products so toxic? Some cleaning products (ex: toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaner) contain chemicals that can actually burn your skin or your eyes, or, if ingested, your throat and esophagus. (When I worked at the skilled nursing facility, we actually had a patient who drank a bottle of drain cleaner, which burned his esophagus so bad that he had to be on a feeding tube.) Other chemicals (ex: bleach and ammonia – If you don’t know this already, never ever mix these 2 together!), when mixed together, actually form a very toxic gas, which can actually kill you if the levels are high enough. In addition to that, other products contain fragrances, which can cause respiratory problems, headaches, sneezing, etc., and others contain various ingredients that cause long term health effects, such as cancer, brain/nerve damage, and hormone disruption.
That’s crazy, right? All you are trying to do is make sure that your house is clean. Certain cleaning products can really damage the health of you and your family…especially if you have kids or pets because they don’t know any better and tend to get into things that they aren’t supposed to. Actually, my pets are what made me switch to non-toxic products many years ago. One of my cats likes to lick the strangest things (windows, screens, floors, etc.), so it always made me nervous that she may be ingesting something toxic, so I did a lot of research and changed all of my cleaning products to non-toxic ones.
So, if you were already aware of how harmful these products can be, that’s great, and I’m glad that you have taken that step towards the health of you and your family! If you are still using commercial cleaning products, and, now that you are aware of how unsafe they can be for you and your family, I’m going to share 3 simple steps you can take to make these changes:
- The first thing that I would recommend doing is going through all of your current cleaning products and getting rid of any of the really harmful ones. Cleaning products don’t usually list ingredients, but you can figure out how hazardous they can be by looking for words that indicate how toxic the product is such as Danger, Warning, Caution, or Poison. These are likely to be the most toxic products. They also may describe the type of hazard, such as, “vapors harmful.”
- The easiest and most inexpensive way to clean your house with non-toxic ingredients is to make your own products. That way you will know exactly what is in your products. You can make most cleaning products with just a few ingredients including liquid castile soap, water, baking soda, borax, vinegar, lemon juice, and essential oils. See a couple recipes below.
- Sometimes – although it is much cheaper and is actually really simple to make your own products – the convenience of pre-made cleaning products wins. I totally get it, and I do it myself. I try to make my own, but sometimes I get busy or lazy, and it is so much easier to go to the cabinet, or even the store (although, in reality, it is so much more time consuming to drive to the store, haha) and just buy a pre-made product.( I’m really excited because I just purchased a non-toxic cleaner concentrate with and essential oil blend which provide natural protection against certain environmental factors while elevating the overall cleaning capability, so it’s safe for your family and the environment. It also happens to be on sale this month! (For more information, you can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.) So, what should you look for when buying non-toxic cleaning products?
- Avoid products with warnings such as the ones listed in #1.
- You are much more likely to find these products at a grocery store that specializes in natural and organic foods, such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Trader Joe’s, although some larger grocery stores and Target are starting to carry some non-toxic products. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find a local company that specializes in non-toxic cleaning products.
- Don’t be fooled by labels that read “natural”, “non-toxic”, “organic”, and “eco-friendly” as these products may still be hazardous unless there is specific ingredient information listed such as “no phosphates”, “no petroleum-based ingredients” or “solvent free.” If the ingredients are listed, always choose products with ingredients that are plant-based and not petroleum-based.
- Finally, to look up specific product information, you can always go to www.ewg.org.
Now that you know how harmful your cleaning products can be, I hate to do this, but I have some more bad news for you…your personal care products (shampoo, toothpaste, makeup, deodorant), pans, containers, etc. can be just as harmful for you – there will be more on this in a future newsletter. What’s the good news? I have created a FREE cheat sheet that lists 10 common toxins that may be affecting the health of your family, where to find them, how they can harm you, and what to do instead. For instant access to that sheet, click here.