Keeping your home clean should not put you or your family at risk. But that’s exactly what happens when we use some of the commercial cleaning supplies that we willingly let into our homes. Honestly, look at the back of some of the bottles, you’ll find that there are warning labels! Is that not strange for a product that is supposed to be getting rid of all the bad stuff in your homes…it should not be adding its own bit of bad stuff, right?
Well, have you ever really thought about the array of chemicals in these cleaning products that we use, all in the name of keeping our homes and everything in it clean…for wiping, polishing, mopping, scrubbing, washing and all sorts of other cleaning tasks. Different products for different tasks; dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, kitchen surface cleaners, all-purpose sprays, bathroom cleaners, shower sprays, stainless steel polishing sprays, toilet cleaners, floor cleaners, window cleaners, cooker hob cleaners, tile scrubbers, cream cleansers, fruit and vegetable washes, and more! We use them multiple times daily and we do it all without a thought.
Some chemicals are clearly labelled as toxic or poisonous and we’ll do our best to keep them far from our homes. But we innocently reach for bottle after bottle of conventional cleaning products, from the large selections that adorn the shelves in the department stores, thinking that we are doing something good for our families and our homes.
But…Aren’t These Cleaning Products Safe?
To put it bluntly, many cleaning products contribute to indoor air pollution and could in fact be poisonous if ingested and might be harmful if touched or inhaled. There have been claims that this is able to happen because the ingredients and cleaning products do not have to meet any safety standards and no testing data is required before the products are made available in the market. Apparently, governments only require ‘chemicals of known concern’ to be listed on the product labels by the manufacturing companies and many of the other ingredients that have not been proven to be harmful may be left out.
Some cleaners are actually among the most toxic products found in many homes and you would probably be surprised to hear that cleaning products accounted for almost 10% of all toxic exposures reported to the United States Poison Control Centers in 2010. Most manufacturers would argue that these exposures are minimal but the effect of aggregate exposure due to accumulation from various sources in our bodies has not been well studied.
Some household cleaners have however already been linked to acute and chronic health problems, including headaches, irritation of the airways, watery eyes in sensitive people, mood-altering chemicals, asthma, allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity and even cancer.
Do the Chemicals Actually Enter Our Bodies?
Most people feel that products that we don’t consume internally or apply directly won’t affect our health. But what if I told you that some of these chemicals are absorbed into our bodies even if we do not directly eat or drink them or apply them directly to our skin.
The fact is that when we clean with toxic chemicals, some of it gets inhaled into our lungs. Also, when we hand wash our dishes or laundry with products that contain toxic chemicals, some of it gets absorbed through our skin. And if we eat after carrying out these cleaning tasks without washing our hands, then we actually ingest some of it without realizing. Unbeknownst to you, some of the dish washing liquids may even leave deposits on our dishes and drink ware, which get mixed up and swallowed with our food and drinks.
When you add all of these sources up, you will come to the realization that the concentration of chemicals that we’re exposed to is altogether quite high, and we must not forget the fact that it’s all going straight back into our water supply and may threaten water quality, sea-life and other wildlife because some of the chemicals are not fully broken down during the water treatment process. (but that’s a topic for another day!).
Greater Impact on Babies and Children
I apologize if I sound like I’m taking things a bit personal here but I have four young kids so I have seen fist hand how these points below are so true. Our little ones are closer to the ground than we are and as such, they are more prone to inhale the fumes from the chemicals in the cleaning products that are used to clean the floors and to freshen the carpets.
Also, if you have babies crawling on your floors and carpets on which these chemical-laden products have been used, deposits of those chemicals are left on their hands, knees and feet. The toddlers sometimes lie and roll on the floors or their coverings, they pick food off of them which they eat right away, they also rub their hands on their faces, hair and skin; and they do all of these without first washing their hands, of course. Not to mention the fact that their toys go through similar experiences, and many times these toys are hugged tight and end up next to our kids when it is bedtime, again without getting washed first, of course!
And the sheets they’re lying on plus the pajamas they’re wearing? Also laden with chemical deposits from the laundry detergents, bleach and fabric softeners. So, they even get to inhale more into their small sized bodies while they sleep, with the concentration in their bloodstream rising day by day.
I’m sorry, I know that I’ve probably exaggerated a bit…okay, a lot! But I’m sure you get the point by now. The thought of my little ones enjoying their chemical-laden snacks, rubbing chemical-laden hands all over their bodies and ‘resting’ in chemical-laden laundry kinda gives me the creeps, so much so that I can almost feel a knot forming in my stomach.
I’m sure that you won’t at all be surprised that I decided to make a switch to natural products for as many cleaning tasks as I can, while balancing function, costs and availability of course, as is our tradition here at BodySoulnSpaces.
The Solution? Natural Cleaning Products
It would seem safer to avoid any cleaning products with warning signals on the label such as ‘corrosive’, ‘hazardous’, ‘may cause burns’, ‘danger’ or ‘poison’. And if ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, naphtha, perchloroethylene, phthalates, phenols, propylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid or trichloroethane are listed on the ingredients list of a cleaning product, you might wanna walk right past such product and never look back.
It definitely makes sense to stick to natural cleaning products which are usually made from plant-based materials, rather than petroleum based. Also, you would find that many of them would state ‘solvent free’, ‘phosphate-free’ or ‘biodegradable’ on the container.
Are These Natural Cleaning Products Not Hard to Find and More Expensive?
Honestly, the answer to both of these questions is no. A few years back, it wasn’t easy to find natural cleaning products in the regular department stores, but with the awareness of the superiority of natural cleaning products spreading, more and more of the larger shops now carry them. Also, if you’re reading this post, then it means that you have access to the internet. In this age and time, it’s quite convenient and many times cheaper to shop online, depending on which country you’re ordering from and where the shop you’re shopping at is located.
I live outside the united states and after making the switch to natural cleaning products, I initially had to shop around a bit to find natural cleaning products for my home. I then decided to try ordering from the grove collaborative which is a popular cleaning service which… Unfortunately, the shipping cost was more than triple the cost of the actual cleaning supplies, so I knew that this option would not be a sensible or sustainable one for me and my family.
Then I discovered iHerb which is an online shop that boasts of lower prices for over 35,000 natural personal and household products and although its distribution centers are located in the united states, they directly offer free shipping for certain destinations when the order is above a certain amount. And for other destinations, you simply have to configure our baskets by adding different items, even some from their trial products and specials, and you would most times be able to get free shipping (or almost free shipping) too!
I’m now so in love with iHerb for ordering my natural cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, supplements and soy candles, that I’ve written a whole post about shopping at iHerb.com for all you aspiring ‘Healthy Lifestyle Naturalistas’ out there. You can click here if you’ll like to find out more about shopping at iHerb.com and you can use my discount code (TOY3430) at checkout to get 5% off your entire order for new customers.
And if you’ll rather make your own eco-friendly natural cleaning products then, we have some tried and tested great recipes to get you started. You would probably already have many of the ingredients in your pantry or cleaning cupboard. Plus, they sometimes even smell better and do the job just as well, so why not consider making some today? You can click here to learn more about DIY cleaning recipes.
In conclusion, the decision about what products we use to care for our families and homes is a very personal one. That said, I encourage each of us to do our research and so that we can make informed choices, with all factors considered, of course. Here at BodySoulnSpaces, we believe in making little changes that have the greatest impact to help us achieve a healthier lifestyle and contribute towards our overall well-being…not because our life isn’t good already the way that it is, but because there’s always room for growth. Always.
Hope to ‘see’ you again soon!
*This post contains referral links. To read more about my full disclosure, please click here.