Aug 252019
Go Green Cleaning Supplies – How to Protect Your Family

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.

Go-Green

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.

Outsmart-Labeling-Tricks

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.

Outsmart-Labeling-Tricks

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.

Understand-That-Ingredients-Matter

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.

Know-Your-Options

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.

Some natural cleaning products include Baking Soda, Borax, Castile Soap, Lemon Juice, Washing Soda, Vinegar, and Pure Essential Oils.

To learn more about which vinegar is used for cleaning click here.

Use-Pure-Essential-Oils

6. Use Pure Essential Oils

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.

Challenge

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).

The Dirt on Cleaning Product Companies

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,

Eco_Catherine

ecocatherine@about-going-green.com

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Reader Comments

  1. I’ve known for years that cleaning products contain chemicals that could be harmful to us, but reading your statement,
    ‘government regulations usually allow for a chemical to be used until it has been proven to be dangerous to the public’,
    is what we really need to keep in mind when making choices about what we use in our homes. This really resonated with me because it isn’t that the products are okay since they are on our shelves, it’s that nothing will be done about them until they prove to be a health concern! This is so frustrating but not surprising, which is why once I realised this many years ago, I became quite obsessed with not bringing any chemicals into my house and use only natural products that come from nature or that I have been able to make myself. I love this post as it’s raising awareness around green alternatives, as well as helping one learn more about where to find information to go green, clean and chemical free using the EWG guide. Thanks heaps for such a valuable post.

    1. Hello Kat,

      Thank you so much for visiting and reading. I am glad that you have enjoyed it.
      Yes, it really is shocking and concerning when you start picking apart the facts.
      What upsets me the most is how normalized it has become to buy products such as these.

      Thank you once again.

      Have a green day!

  2. Good post! I didn’t really realize how harmful the cleaning supplies are until now. I would definitely take a look at essential oils and start using them for now on.

    1. I am delighted to hear that you were not aware of this and are now going to make a change in a healthier direction for you and your family.
      I will be publishing a post here in the near future reviewing different companies that produce essential oils.
      All the very best and thank you for stopping by.

  3. Wow, I didn’t know that for nearly a staggering 10% of all toxic exposures reported to the U.S. Poison Control Center are from cleaning products.

    You’re making some good points here and I will try to implement the natural cleaning products include Baking Soda, Borax, Castile Soap, Lemon Juice, Washing Soda, Vinegar, and Pure Essential Oils.

    I also would encourage more readers to follow the same.

    Thank you so much for sharing this useful information.

    All the best.

    1. Hello,

      Thank you so much for reading. I am pleased to hear that you were able to learn something after reading my post.
      There really are so many different alternatives. If I am honest I try to keep it simple and just stick to these few ingredients:
      Vinegar, castile soap, pure essential oils, and hydrogen peroxide (only if necessary). I rarely use anything else.
      Cheap, simple and effective.

  4. I have always been worried about the toxic present in cleaning products, especially when there are children around. However, I have no knowledge as to where to start or what to look out for. This article is really helpful as it provides details on what to take note. I also very thankful for the link to Label Decoder. I had bookmarked this link for future reference. Once again, thank you very much for this post.

    1. Hello Lynn,

      I too worry about children, pets, adults and the elderly. Let us not forget the effect these chemicals are going to have on the environment when they release through our waterways. I am glad that you will be using the information I have provided for a reference for the future.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. I avoid most detergents, and I always buy the same ones, but sometimes I also clean with a mixture of baking soda, squeezed lime, and vinegar, and water. I am aware that most products contain dangerous chemicals, but your article served as a reminder.
    How did you find out that products which are labelled as organic for example are not? That was a little shocking to me. I was under the impression that companies must be honest on their labels…?
    Thanks for the info!

    1. Hi there.

      I am delighted to hear that you are already taking steps to a green life. The truth is – without the certified USDA approved the quality of the organic product is not guaranteed. The certification is a thorough process. I am actually in the process of writing an article on organic labels at the moment. Please revisit this site in the near future so that you can read it and learn more. Alternatively, subscribe below to receive alerts when new articles are published.

      Thank you for reading and have a great day.

  6. Hi Catherine

    This article is brimful with so much amazing information! Thank you very much. I am doing my best to move away from harmful products and use only those which do not cause any harm (in their manufacture or in their use). Knowing which ingredients to be on the look-out for really helps!

    Thank you for sharing such valuable information. As they say “knowledge is power”!

    Blessings
    Louise

    1. Hello, again Louise,

      I was surprised at how many different harmful ones are used in everyday products. I do find that it is hard to remember them all. As a result, I choose products with a small ingredient list as it is easier to decode. ‘Knowledge is power’ and ‘less is more’

      All the best and thank you for stopping by again – it is really nice to be building this friendship with you.

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