Recently, I had the opportunity to take a biology class at a local university solely focused on pesticides, chemicals, and the environment. What an awesome class and an incredible opportunity! Since the conclusion of that class, I have been on a personal mission to remove as many unnecessary chemicals from my life and my routine as possible. For the most part, I have always gravitated toward ‘greener’ options when considering household products, personal care products, etc. But after this class, I’ve doubled down my own efforts and feel compelled to share this information with you as well!
In this post, I will be looking at how to spring clean your cleaning routine- in every room of the house. I’ll explain some of the nastiest chemicals that lurk in your cleaners and what their impact is on your health and on the environment. I’ll also give you some of my personal tried and true greener options. Replacing any of your cleaners with a less toxic alternative, you will be lessening the toxic burden you are placing on your detoxification pathways and easily improving your own health!
Spring Cleaning your Spring Cleaning- The Kitchen
Dishwashing, counter tops, and cooktops are major concerns for the kitchen, the hearth of the home.
Main Ingredient Concern: Triclosan
Triclosan tends to be used in detergents and soaps labeled as ‘antibacterial’ such as in Dawn, Joy, Gain, and other dish soaps. This chemical is linked to increased bacterial resistance, hormone disruptions, and aquatic damage. Fun Fact! (spoiler- it’s not so fun) the FDA has actually banned triclosan and triclocarban from hand and body soaps, but this ruling did not apply to dishwashing liquid.
The Environmental Working Group gave the following cleaners a grade of A. You can search the EWG’s guide to healthy living here: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
· Dr. Bronner’s SAL SUDS Liquid Cleaner
· Ecover ZERO Dish Soap
· Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs
· Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap
Spring Cleaning your Spring Cleaning- The Bathroom
Main Ingredient Concern: Phthalates
Phthalates are a type of chemical that is used to make fragrances last longer. Almost every conventional product with a fragrance will contain phthalates, including laundry detergents, cleaners, air fresheners, and even toilet paper. Think products like Febreeze, Glade, Scrubbing Bubbles, etc. Phthalates are definite endocrine disruptors (meaning they mess with your hormones), even at low doses. Exposure mainly happens when we inhale a product with phthalates, but exposure can also be absorbed through the skin.
To avoid coming into contact with these sneaky chemicals, choose organic products without fragrance, or choose a product that lists how they get their fragrance. Make sure you can pronounce and understand those ingredients. Some better bathroom options include:
· Seventh Generation Tub and Tile Natural Cleaner
· Fit Organic Lime, Calcium, and Rust Remover
· MamaSuds Toilet Bombs
· Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner
· AspenClean Bathroom Cleaner
Spring Cleaning your Spring Cleaning- The Living Room
Main Ingredient Concern: 2-Butoxyethanol, 2- Hydroxyethanol
These ingredients are commonly found in the general, multipurpose cleaners such as Simple Green Multipurpose, Windex, Pledge, Shout, etc. These are two commonly used petrochemicals (meaning they are derived from oil) in a larger category of glycol ethers- heavy duty solvents- used to cut through dirt and grease. The EPA lists some of the risks of glycol ethers as narcosis, pulmonary edema, severe liver and kidney damage, and neurological damage. Additionally, the EWG notes that occupational studies indicate that men who are exposed to these types of chemicals on the job had reduced sperm counts and pregnant women are more likely to have babies with birth defects. Yikes.
A spray of white vinegar wiped with newspaper is a tried and true window cleaner. If you’re looking for a pre-made greener clean, try any one of these:
· AspenClean All Purpose Cleaner
· Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap
· Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Sureface Cleaner
· Sun and Earth All Purpose Cleaner
Spring Cleaning your Spring Cleaning- The Laundry Room
Main Ingredient Concern: Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (aka. Quats)
Quats are very commonly found in fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and laundry detergents. They can also be found in anti-static agents, air-fresheners, and germicides. Think products like Downy, Bounce, OxiClean, Lysol, Static Guard, etc. Quats are similar to triclosan, they are disinfectants that cause reproductive issues, contribute to antibiotic resistance, and are highly toxic to waterways and the environment.
Laundry is a really easy place to make changes- there are so many wonderful options that will improve your health without overhauling your routine! I’ll provide a few that I love and use, but please look at the EWG’s guide to see where your usual detergent falls, and to see what other options are available. http://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/9-Laundry?grade=a&page=1
· Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap (this stuff can be used for almost everything!)
· Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach liquid/powder
· Fit Organic Laundry and Carpet Stain Remover
· Fit Organic Laundry Detergent
· Seventh Generation Natural Powder Laundry Detergent
And to replace fabric softening dryer sheets- why not try natural wool balls? A few drops of essential oils will add scent while the wool balls will help soften and speed drying time!
This is just a toe-dip into the world of greener cleaning. There are many, many options for ways to clean up your cleaning and reduce your toxic burden and environmental impact. What are some ways that you are going to start implementing?