At one time, we didn’t really think about what types of products we used, we just wanted them to make our house clean and sparkling. But what happens when the residential cleaning products that we are using to keep our homes clean turn out to be very harmful to us?
There are many products on the market today that are great for cleaning, but the unknown chemicals that are in them have very negative effects on your health and people have started seeking out more natural residential cleaning products because of that. Some of the more natural products that are truly green products contain things like citrus oils, vinegar, beeswax, cleaning salt, coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils like lavender and rosemary. Many of these residential cleaning products do a great job cleaning your home and are safe around your children and pets. One of the bigger benefits is they are safe for the environment too.
Did you know that every time you open that bottle of chemical based cleaner you are inhaling those toxic fumes into your lungs? Since World War 2 there have been over 85,000 new chemicals put out there in mainstream household cleaners. Often many of these chemicals are not approved by the EPA. What is even scarier is that upwards of 70% of cleaning products on the market today have harmful chemicals in them. Here are the top chemicals to watch out for:
Where: Most commonly found in polishing agents like products for cleaning & polishing bathroom fixtures, sinks, jewelry and glass cleaners.
What are the health risks? Ammonia evaporates and doesn’t’ leave streaks and is commonly found in glass cleaners. That is one of the reasons that Windex, which is a popular window cleaner is so great at being streak less. That steak less clean has a big price with it, though. If you are not careful ammonia is a powerful irritant. According to Donna Kasuak, a chemical engineer from ChemConsious, Inc. Some people are going to be affected right away such as people with asthma or lung issues or breathing problems. Ammonia is always inhaled and people that are exposed to it on a regular basis will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. One thing you don’t ever want to do is mix an ammonia-based product with bleach. It creates a super harmful by-product that can really hurt you.
Where: Typically Chlorine is found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry whiteners and mildew removers.
What are the health risks? Chlorine is found almost anywhere. It is even is city water! Why is that? Because most cities use chlorine to get rid of the bacteria in the water. So, you are getting exposed to chlorine when you drink it, wash in it, bath in it, etc.. The long-term health risks of chlorine can be airway irritation, difficulty breathing, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, eye irritations, skin irritations and more. The severity of the health effects will depend on the length of exposure.
Where: Typically found in oven cleaners, drain cleaners, aquarium products, hair straighteners, metal polishes
What are the health risks? This chemical’s common name is lye and is extremely corrosive. This chemical if you get it on your skin or come in contact with it on any part of your body will cause severe burns. Some of the most common symptoms of this chemical are an irritation to the eyes, mucous membrane, skins burns and temporary loss of hair. When using this product always use protective gloves and other equipment. It is a colorless or white and in its solid state it is often odorless.
The Green Options
So now that we have talked about three of the top chemicals found in common cleaners in your home, what are some green cleaning options that you can DIY or find in the stores?
- Sink Cleaner – Baking soda and vinegar. This is a great cleaner for your sink and takes that stinky smell out of the drain also. Pour a little bit of baking soda in the sink focused around the drain and then pour in about 1 – 2 cups of vinegar. It will immediately foam up and expand down the drain, cleaning and getting rid of the odor.
- Clean your oven – First thing to do here is turn on the oven to loosen up any grease you may have. Then in equal parts mix together salt, baking soda, and vinegar and scrub away.
- Bathroom cleaner – Get a spray bottle and mix together 50/50 water and vinegar and add a tablespoon of tea-tree oil for good measure. The great thing about this mix is that you clean, disinfect and the tea-tree oil breaks down the mildew you might get on the toilet.
- Laundry Soap – There actually is a real tree in China that is called the soapberry tree and the dried fruits from this tree can be used as a natural soap. The properties from this tree are great for treating common ailments such as eczema, psoriasis and is also great as an insecticide for removing lice and repelling mosquitos.
In the United States, it is really hard to get rid of all of the chemicals that you will find in your home, but you can greatly reduce the number of chemicals that are in your home. Take the time to read the back of labels of cleaners in the store and researching what they do to the human body. Today there are more and more great alternatives that are truly green “natural” plant-based products that will clean just as good or sometimes better than the chemical based products.