With generations of people seeking healthier lifestyles, it is no surprise that many are looking for more natural cleaning products for their homes. We are concerned about the chemicals we are breathing in and our worries multiply when we factor children and pets into the equation. However, we are creatures of habit and it isn’t always easy to make drastic changes in our busy lives. So just how important is it to make the move to more eco-friendly products? When we begin to look at the conventional products on the market, it is easy to see why we should implement the change towards more natural cleaning products.
Dangerous Chemicals In Everyday Cleaners
There are over 60 toxic chemicals in the average household cleaner! From the phthalates in our favorite fragranced products to the fumes we inhale in our oven cleaners, we are breathing these harmful chemicals in on a daily basis. We are also often using these products in areas that aren’t properly ventilated. How many of us are opening our bathroom windows in ten degree weather to scrub the toilet? Our busy lifestyles, along with a pressing need to clean our homes, are compounding the problem. So we continue to use products that have been linked to certain cancers, asthma, reproductive problems and have also been shown to effect our hormones as well as our neurological system. So what exactly are the chemicals to avoid and why should they be avoided?
- Phthalates are pretty much found in any of our products that are fragranced, such as air fresheners and hand soaps. They are easily absorbed into the skin and are particularly dangerous to the endocrine system. This can often translate to lower sperm counts for men who are regularly exposed to this toxin.
- Perchloroethylene can be found in our often used spot removal products. It is toxic to the nervous system.
- Chlorine is found in a number of cleaning products such as your shower and bowl cleaner. This chemical can seriously irritate your respiratory system.
- Ammonia is likely an ingredient in your glass cleaner. This is particularly dangerous to inhale if you have a breathing issue such as asthma.
- Sodium Hydroxide is in oven cleaners and products used to open clogs in your drain. It is extremely corrosive and can cause burns to the skin.
- 2-Butoxyethanol is found in most of your multi-purpose cleaners and give it that sweet smell. Unfortunately, this chemical can cause pulmonary edema as well as severe kidney and liver damage.
- Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATS) are in your dryer sheets and anything that is labeled “anti-bacterial”. It is not only a skin irritant, but when inhaled may lead to asthma over time.
- Triclosan is found in many liquid dish washing detergents as well as in “anti-bacterial” hand soaps. Not only can it aid in the growth of drug resistant bacteria, but it may also cause certain cancers.
Moving Toward Greener Pastures
When it comes to “going green” there are a number of options for a cleaner home. Seek out cleaning products with a short list of ingredients and use companies that are willing to disclose their ingredient lists such as Method and Seventh Generation. The government does not require most of the toxic chemicals found in everyday cleaning products to be listed on their packaging. Essential oils can be used to freshen the home and certain oils can actually be very beneficial when inhaled. When it comes to stain removal, products such as Ecover or a Castille soap rubbed directly on an area before washing can be very effective. Bon Amie or baking soda can replace the products used for scrubbing. A microfiber cloth and some olive oil are great for furniture polishing. And believe it or not, vodka will give you a streak free shine and a cocktail may make cleaning a bit more fun! Of course, there are plenty of natural cleaning products you can make on your own using items such as vinegar and tee tree oil, but that doesn’t always work into our busy schedules. When this is a concern, there are safer cleaning products out there that will give you a healthier home as long as you are willing to read a few labels or use some products mentioned above.
It is impossible to avoid all toxins, as we are exposed to a variety of chemicals every day. However, if we start in the home, we will have a very positive impact on our own health and on the health of our loved ones. Choosing more natural cleaners will significantly reduce the amount of toxins inhaled or absorbed through the skin. In addition, more eco-friendly cleaning products will help to reduce the risks of asthma, which “today is the most common chronic illness and the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness across the country.”
We talk about leaving a smaller footprint on the planet. When we see the many ways that human beings are having a negative impact on the environment, we seek to find ways to keep our planet protected. Taking steps to have a greener home will actually have a positive impact on the environment as a whole. When we use products with toxic ingredients, the toxins do not remain isolated, but rather enter the atmosphere. When you choose to “go green” in your home, you are taking steps towards cleaner air and water. Often, the eco-friendly products you choose will come in environmentally friendly packaging, thus further reducing the negative impact on the environment. The localized changes you make in your home is more far-reaching than you imagine.
At this point, you must determine your action steps towards achieving a cleaner, greener home. This will depend on your personality as well as the sense of urgency you feel. You can gradually eliminate and replace your everyday products or you can get rid of the old and bring in the new all at once. If you decide to dispose of your products, please read the product labels for safe disposal as many of the chemicals in our cabinets are harmful when combined and may pose an immediate danger to your health. Be sure to make the transition at your own pace while keeping in mind the health benefits to you and your family. Also, take comfort in knowing that there are plenty of alternative natural cleaning solutions available to you.
A Green State Of Mind
Once you have made the choice to seek out more “eco-friendly” products, this will likely translate to other aspects of your life. You will seek out other areas where you can replace your everyday products with ones that are cleaner and greener. This may impact your choices of food and other items such as personal care products. Best of luck in your journey as you achieve a more green state of mind!