Reduce toxins in your home by choosing safer and greener ways to clean. Here are a few common harmful chemicals to avoid, and some safer substitutes…
Many of the toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis are things you can’t do much about. If you live in an urban area, for example, you are likely inhaling petrochemicals from vehicle exhaust whenever you walk down the street, not to mention all of the many other chemicals that are often present in the air in heavily populated areas.
Other than wearing a gas mask (which would get you some pretty funny looks!) or never going outside, you can’t do a lot to control that source of exposure. But one thing you can do something about is the air inside your home.
While it many chemicals can “off-gas” from furniture, paint, carpets, and more (see this article for more info on this), another common source of air pollution within the home is the cleaning products that you choose to use.
Many commercial cleaning products are loaded with persistent chemicals that can have all kinds of nasty long-term side effects, especially when you are exposed to them repeatedly – i.e. every time you clean your house.
For example, according to the Environmental Working Group, cleaning chemicals may cause or contribute to allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and even cancer.
You should especially watch out for:
- Quaternary ammonium compounds (disinfectant linked to asthma and respiratory irritation)
- Sodium hypochlorite (disinfectant linked to asthma and respiratory irritation)
- Ethylene oxide (surfactant linked to cancer)
- 1,4-dioxane (surfactant linked to cancer)
- Isothiazolinone (preservative linked to skin allergies)
Instead, choose safer and healthier alternatives (most of which are also much better for the environment). Here are a few tips on greener ways to clean from MindBodyGreen.com:
Experiment with nontoxic options like vinegar diluted with water to clean windows and shine stainless-steel appliances; baking soda mixed with water to form a scrubbing paste for the kitchen or bathroom; and lemon and vinegar for an antiseptic surface cleaner.
Essential oils can add a smell-good, antibacterial punch to your new powerful (not to mention cheap) cleaning arsenal…
Here are a few antibacterial oils to start with:
- Tea Tree: Traditionally used as a medicine for cuts and wounds, tea tree oil can be combined with water to form a spray that attacks airborne bacteria and mold.
- Clove Bud: A potent antioxidant, clove also inhibits the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria when combined with water.
- Oregano: Place a drop or two on a sponge for a powerful kitchen surface cleaner.
No matter what products you’re using, always clean with the windows and doors open. And if you do opt to swap out traditional products with DIY options, make sure you dispose of them properly. Pouring certain cleaners down the drain can harm wildlife and waterways, so always check the label for proper protocol.