We have so many environmental toxins that are affecting our health, where do we begin to “fix” the problems. There are toxins affecting our environment, but even more … they are affecting our health. With the increase in cancer cases, autism and other diseases we are facing, we find that there are toxins that could be increasing (if not causing) them.
I've decided to try and replace the toxic cleaning products I found in my home and use DIY mixes and essential oils instead. Many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic. After all, tumors are a result of irritation and inflammation. If toxins are a cause of this, we can replace them with safer, more natural options that really work.
Just a look at the labels on the cleaning products under my sink gave proof that they aren't safe. They even state that they are “hazardous to humans and domestic animals”. Did you know that there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household products? The average household cleaning products contain over 60 toxic chemicals and we are exposed to them on a daily basis … from Phthalates in synthetic fragrances to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone imbalance, and neurotoxicity.
We can't avoid exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but it is possible to reduce it significantly so that we don't overburden our bodies with enough stored up toxins that it causes a disease outcome.
These are some of the more common toxins, health risks and the replacement (healthy choice):
This toxin is found in many household products that have fragrance added such as air fresheners, toilet paper, and dish soap. Companies do not have to disclose what's in their fragrances, so you won't find phthalates on a label. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, you can appropriately assume it has phthalates in it.
RISKS: Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. This can cause reduced sperm counts in men. Phthalates are usually inhaled, but they can also attack through the kin from scented soaps. The skin has no safeguards and toxins absorbed through the skin go straight to the organs. Aerosol sprays and air fresheners can trigger migraines and asthma.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Choose fragrance-free or all-natural organic products. Ditch your plug-in air fresheners and use essential oils.. You might consider opening the windows to let the fresh air in. Adding more plants to your home acts as a natural air detoxifier.
This toxin is found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners.
RISKS: A neurotoxin. The EPA classifies it as a possible carcinogen. Perchloroethylene is usually inhaled. The fumes on clothes you pick up from the dry cleaner, or the fumes from cleaning carpets.
THE BETTER CHOICE: If your clothes or curtains are labeled “dry clean only”, take them to a “wet cleaner” that uses water-based technology rather than chemicals. The EPA states liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) is a preferable alternative for the environment. Ask your dry cleaner which method they use. For spot removers, use a nontoxic brand like Ecover or rub undiluted castile soap directly on stains before washing.
This toxin is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial”
RISKS: An aggressive antibacterial agent that promotes drug-resistant bacteria. Overuse of antibacterial chemicals allows microbes to develop resistance to antibiotics. May also disrupt endocrine (hormonal) function. It is also a carcinogen which is a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.
THE BETTER CHOICE: At the least, use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists. Avoid antibacterial products for home use. If you need to use a hand sanitizer, use one that is alcohol-based and does not contact triclosan.
4. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
This toxin is found in fabric softener liquids and sheets and most cleaners labeled “antibacterial.”
RISKS: Another type of antimicrobial and has the potential for the same problems caused by triclosan. Helps to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Also known to be a leading cause of skin irritation. Suspected to be a cause for respiratory disorders such as asthma.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Fabric softener and dryer sheets are not the only way to get rid of static. Vinegar is the better fabric softener for many reasons. It removes soap residue in the rinse cycle and helps to prevent static cling in the dryer. White vinegar is best as it will not stain like other types of vinegar can.
Use antibacterial, antifungal tea-tree oil as a disinfectant. A few drops of tea-tree oil mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar with water in a spray bottle works as a safe, germ killing, all-purpose cleaner. Add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil for a refreshing scent.
This toxin is found in window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners.
RISKS: The key ingredient in many window cleaners and gives them their sweet smell. The law does not require it to be listed on a product's label. It can cause sore throats when inhaled and in high levels can contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, severe liver and kidney damage.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Use newspaper and diluted vinegar to clean mirrors and windows. At the very least, choose simple cleaning products made from natural ingredients like ground feldspar and baking soda without the added bleach or fragrances.
You can make your own cleaning concoction from baking soda, vinegar and essential oils (DIY Cleaners).
This toxin is found in polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry, as well as glass cleaner. A common ingredient in commercial window cleaners because it doesn't leave streaks.
RISKS: A powerful irritant. The people who are most affected are those who have asthma, elderly people with lung issues and breathing problems. It's inhaled. Housekeepers with often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. It becomes a poisonous gas if mixed with bleach.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Vodka. It's not just for drinking. It will put a reflective shine on any metal or mirrored surface. Toothpaste makes an amazing silver polish.
This toxin is found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, and unfiltered tap water.
RISKS: Not just one method of exposure. Exposure through fumes and through the skin when you use it to clean, in unfiltered water (to get rid of bacteria) and when showering or bathing. It may be a thyroid irritant and disrupter. It's an acute respiratory irritant.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Use Bon Ami or baking soda for scrubbing. Clean toilet boils with vinegar. Use vinegar or borax power for whitening clothes. Install filters on your kitchen sink, tub, and shower.
8. Sodium Hydroxide
This toxin is found in oven cleaners and drain openers.
RISKS: (also known as lye) Very corrosive. If can cause severe burns if it gets on your skin or in your eyes. Inhaling it can cause a sore throat for days.
BETTER CHOICE: Clean the oven with a baking-soda paste. Unclog drains with a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar (let it set for 30 minutes). Then run hot water down the drain to clear the drain of debris.
• Basic sink cleanser — Combine ½ cup baking soda with six drops essential oil (such as lavender, rosemary, lemon, lime or orange). Rinse sink well with hot water. Sprinkle combination into the sink and pour ¼ cup vinegar over top. After the fizz settles, scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse again with hot water. (From The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier.)
Black pepper essential oil is effective against bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Streptococcus faecalis, e.coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and salmonella. Pair it with citrus oils (bergamot, lemon, orange, grapefruit) for a great kitchen cleaner.
• Oven cleanser — Put a heatproof dish filled with water in the oven. Turn on the heat to let the steam soften any baked-on grease. Once the oven is cool, apply a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda, and vinegar, and scrub. (From Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer.)
• Bathroom mildew remover — Essential oils may be calming and good for holistic healing, but they are powerful enough to tackle tough germs as well. Essential oils like tea tree, oregano and eucalyptus are used against norovirus, influenza and Staphylococcus aureus. Good ventilation helps prevent mildew and mold. When they do occur, make a spray with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon each of tea-tree and lavender oil. Shake first and spray on trouble spots. The oils break down the mildew so there’s no need to wipe it down. (From Green Interior Design, by Lori Dennis.)
For cleaning the shower use white vinegar. It is effective at cleaning and rinses away easily.
• Carpet shampoo — Mix 3 cups water, ¾ cup vegetable-based liquid soap, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil. Rub the foam into soiled areas with a damp sponge. Let dry thoroughly and then vacuum. (From The Naturally Clean Home.)
• Laundry soap — Try “soap nuts” made from the dried fruit of the Chinese soapberry tree. Available in natural groceries and online, the reusable soap nuts come in a cotton sack that goes into the washing machine with clothes.
• Dusting — Skip the furniture polishes. Instead, use a microfiber cloth. Made from synthetic fibers that are then split into hundreds of smaller microfibers, they capture dust more efficiently than regular rags. If necessary, a little olive oil makes a fine polishing agent.
• Musty smells — Freshen linens and make a mattress spray with essential oils that are airborne antimicrobials (eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, rosemary and Siberian fir). Just put a few drops of the oils in a spray bottle along with some water and spray liberally on mattress and linens.
• Floors — Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Add 1 cup of water. Mix well and rub lightly into floors to bring back shine and clean spots. Add a few drops of essential oil of choice for a nice scent.
NOTE: Vinegar is acidic, so don't let it sit on your wood floor. If your flooring is made from a sensitive material such as marble or travertine, avoid vinegar altogether and use a baking soda and soap solution instead. Always make sure the baking soda is dissolved. Also, vinegar also works as a weed and grass killer, so don't empty out your bucket of water with vinegar on your lawn.
If you have more suggestions for common cleaner replacements (recipes), please feel free to leave them in the comments below and we will get them added. As always, I look forward to your comments and questions in the comments section below.
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