What You Might Find Surprising About Cleaning Supplies
Lots of the household cleaning products we often rely on to keep our homes clean can be poisonous for our bodies and our environment. It is natural to presume that the long rows of cleaning products that line our local stores are safe for frequent use, simply because they are there.
The reality is that government regulations usually allow for a chemical to be used until it has been proven to be dangerous to the public. Let’s look at an example.
In the year 2000 alone, everyday cleaning products are responsible for nearly a staggering 10% of all toxic exposures reported to the U.S. Poison Control Center. It has been the second-highest reported cause for toxic exposure for many years now.
The percentage is slowly reducing with time. 16 years later it was found to still be the second-highest substance class most frequently involved in human exposures at nearly 8%.
This is because household cleaning supplies are made from some of the most powerful bacteria killers in existence. They are expertly engineered to kill just about every organism they come into contact with.
Knowing this, it has been easy to see why these men made poisons are extremely harmful to our health and the health of our environment. Many have toxic effects on our physical bodies. They also have toxic effects on animal life and plant life after they enter our waterways.
What You Can Do – Go Green
We can’t solve global issues single handily. But we can do our part to contribute towards the bigger picture.
Think small and use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
Think about making positive changes to your environment. Your home is where you and your loved ones are, spending time relaxing, playing and hopefully enjoying life. Our furry and faithful companions need to be kept in mind too; they are also vulnerable to poisonous substances.
Following the steps below when choosing your cleaning products can help you to create a cleaner and safer environment for you and your family.
1. Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Labeling
When shopping for cleaning products start by studying the label carefully. Some products tell you if they are dangerous, while others don’t. Red Flag Alert!
This can be helpful at first glance, as it makes it obvious which ones to stay well clear of. What is the Bottom line? Listen to them and stay away!
It’s easy really, once your are know-how. Just avoid products with terms like Caution, Corrosive, Danger, Irritant, Poison, or Warning. Once you spend a little time finding the products that you are happy with, it gets easier because generally speaking, people often stick to what they have used before.
Some people want to make the transition from toxic cleaning products to green cleaning products slowly, exchanging an old product for a new one when it runs out. Other people want to do it right here and now, by clearing out the cupboard under the sink, making a list and heading straight to the store to restock their now empty cupboard. Choose the option which is best for you.
2. Outsmart Labeling Tricks
If it says ‘Natural’, ‘Non-toxic’, ‘Eco-friendly’ or even ‘Organic’, that does not necessarily mean that it has been. I found this surprising when I first discovered it.
These terms can be a helpful place to start, just be sure to verify their contents. Study the ingredients list, watch out for certain ingredients (see ‘know what to watch out for’ below) and make your judgment.
3. Understand That Ingredients Matter
If the product you pick up does not tell you what it contains inside it – stop!
Sending those companies a message with concerns can be an effective way of contributing to positive change.
Do not purchase these products. Transparency it hugely significant when looking for a safe product as a consumer today. While there may be safe ingredients inside, without an honest ingredients list you have no way of knowing whether the product you are about to buy it safely.
I may be wrong, but my pessimistic assumption is that there is a reason why that company is choosing to hide its ingredients. The term ‘red flag’ springs to mind again.
4. Know What To Watch Out For
- Ammonia: This is toxic when in physical contact, and even through inhalation. Very strong and considered potentially dangerous when used without care.
- Antibacterial & Disinfectant: These include a wide range of ingredients from Bleach to Triclosan. These kinds of products are considered by some to be encouraging the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I feel they are rarely needed. Regular homemade cleaning products (even just a bit of dish detergent) or soap and water should be what most people will ever really need in their home.
- Butyl Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, Monobutyl: These are commonly found in most cleaning products and are dangerous for our nervous system, liver, and kidneys.
- Chlorine Bleach: This product has corrosive properties and symptoms that get reported even from simply inhaling the fumes include lightheadedness, coughing, and irritation to the nose and/or eyes.
- Petroleum-based Surfactants & Solvents: Many cleaning ingredients are a derivative from petroleum and are often found under the term ‘surfactants’. Some are safe and others are not. The dangerous kinds have been linked to reproductive disorders, neurological disorders, and cancer. Many have not been thoroughly tested for their impact on our health or the environment. Surfactants and solvents do not always require being listed on the ingredients list, this will probably vary depending on where you live. Solvents are usually flammable and toxic. They frequently can be used to make up around 90% of a household cleaning product.
- Phosphates: These are often found in laundry & dish detergents. They are harmful to aquatic life. They trigger harmful algae blooms when wastewater it pushed into river water, lakes and the ocean. Some states have banned the sale of dishwasher detergents that contain high levels of phosphates but others have not so I would advise you to watch out.
- Phthalates: Can often be found under the term ‘fragrance’ on ingredient lists. These are known to be hormone disruptive and are often the components of complex synthetic fragrances that can initiate allergic reactions for some people. I strongly recommend avoiding artificial scents at all costs: cleaners, shampoos, candles, etc. Choose options that say “Phthalate Free”, “Free & Clear” or mention the use of essential oils for fragrance.
5. Know Your Options
There are a lot of great sources for information on natural cleaning products.
Get to know them, refer to them, and even save money in the process of using them. Some of you may decide that you want to have a go at making your own.
Do a little research and take that step! I think you will be thankful for the decrease of poisons in your home.
To learn more about which vinegar is used for cleaning click here.
When your home is cleaned with natural products containing essential oils, you get a clean and healthy home and one that is filled with the extraordinary scents of aromatherapy.
When we hear the phrase “essential oils”, often we tend to immediately think of scents they produce. But what many of us don’t realize is that a vast range of pure essential oils has impressive cleaning properties too. They are known for their antibacterial, disinfectant, anti-fungal, and antiseptic cleaning properties.
Appropriate essential oils don’t just mask bad smells; they can neutralize unpleasant odors and airborne bacteria that linger in our homes, cars, and workplaces, etc.
Natural cleaning products are an extraordinary alternative to regular cleaning products, however, they do need to be used responsibly. Some can contain naturally occurring chemicals that can irritate the skin, trigger allergic reactions or cause other toxic effects.
When learning about them, try not to overwhelm yourself. Instead, start by learning about select few. I recommend Lemon, Tee tree and Peppermint. They are probably the three most commonly used essential oils in cleaning.
Always select organic pure essential oils, with no additives, instead of fake synthetic ones where the plants have often been sprayed with pesticides and/or contain other filler ingredients.
Never apply essential oils directly to the skin and wear gloves when handling them. Store in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.
Tip: Use ‘EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning’
If you have a phone with internet access, I recommend bookmarking ‘EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning’ for a quick and easy reference tool when doing your shopping. It scores products with a simple alphabetic code, ‘A’ being the best.
They also provide a useful ‘Label Decoder’, which can help you understand the facts when reading confusing labels.
For an in-depth review of how well five of the leading cleaning product manufacturers stack up on toxic chemical and consumer right-to-know issues, read ‘The Dirt on Cleaning Product Companies’, by Woman’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).
A Few Final Thoughts
If you want to read mu recommendations for pre-made cleaning products that can be purchased online, please click here.
If you ever need a helping hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below, and I will be more than happy to answer them as best to my knowledge.
If you want to join me on this journey, please use the social links below or shoot me a quick email.
All the best,