Are Traditional Cleaning Products Toxic?
You know that "cleaning" smell? That super artificial lemon-scented cleaning solution that your parents used back when you were a kid?
While it probably did a good job of cleaning the house, it may have had side effects that you (and your parents) didn't realize at the time. Traditional cleaning products are focused on one and one thing only: cleaning. They're designed to kill germs and cut through dirt. The keyword in that sentence is kill. In order to kill all those germs, they use some pretty heavy chemicals that need some reconsidering.
Here's the problem: Many of the chemicals used in their formulation of cleaning products contain toxins. These can have dramatic effects on your health and the health of your family.
Thankfully, these traditional chemical cleaners are not the only solution to a clean home. There are many terrific natural alternatives on the market today. New green and natural cleaning products offer the exact same cleaning-ability as traditional products (if not better) AND also avoid the toxic, artificial ingredients that are gently poisoning our homes.
Here are some numbers from the Environmental Working Group that might scare you… (But don't worry, help is on the way soon!)
Formaldehyde (used as a preservative in funeral homes) can be found in many cleaning supplies. It's formed when terpenes, a chemical found in most citrus and pine cleaners) combines with ozone in the air.
53% of cleaning products contain ingredients that can harm the lungs.
22% of cleaning products contain ingredients that have been reported to cause asthma in healthy individuals.
Chloroform can escape the fumes of many cleaning products.
Sodium borate, also known as borax and boric acid, are common cleaning product ingredients that can disrupt the hormone system.
1,4-dioxane is a common household cleaning product ingredient that is a suspected human carcinogen.
These facts are just scratching the surface of what's contained in many household cleaning products. In some products, the ingredients aren't even listed on the label. So, who really knows what you're using to clean your home?
And just when you thought it was safe… You also have to watch out for household products that describe themselves as "natural," as there are lots of toxic substances that are 100% natural.
Watch Out for Ammonia!
One cleaning agent you should definitely watch out for is ammonia. Ammonia is really scary stuff! For some reason, our society seemed to think that “mild” amounts of ammonia would be ok but it’s hard to understand why anyone would think that; it’s corrosive! Inhaling lower concentrations of ammonia can cause coughing, nose, and throat irritation. Swallowing ammonia can cause burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach. Skin or eye contact with concentrated ammonia can also cause irritation and burns.
When ammonia enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing, or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce ammonium hydroxide. This chemical is very corrosive and damages cells in the body on contact.
Then there are the risks associated with exposure to high concentrations of ammonia, which causes burning of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract? Oh, and it can result in blindness, lung damage, or even death! Gah!
And somehow we’ve all been led to believe that ammonia is ok for our homes??? Is that something you really want to be using in your everyday life? (And incidentally, ammonia is also found in hair colour, so watch out for that too. That’s another reason why at Thair Hair Boutique we only use natural, organic hair products.)
Thankfully, there are many green and natural alternatives to these household cleaning products that deliver similar results without the potential health risks.
The most basic alternative to traditional cleaning products is pure white vinegar. Don't underestimate the power of something so simple! Vinegar is often used in homes of allergy sufferers or by people with significant environmental sensitivities. While white vinegar can be effective for cleaning your entire home, there's a bit of a downside; it may also leave your home temporarily smelling like a pickle processing plant. This is not the most desirable situation if your aim is to leave your home smelling clean and fresh.
You can always go to your local health food store, Whole Foods, or Well.ca to pick up some of their "green" cleaning products. Just be careful what you choose. You can't be 100% sure that every cleaning line isn't using ingredients that could negatively affect your family. Yes, they're going to be WAY better than the fluorescent yellow stuff your parents poured into a bucket, but they still might not be completely safe. If you want 100% all-natural, non-toxic cleaners that are both pet and child-safe, I have a personal recommendation: LoveFresh.
You might know LoveFresh from their excellent line of beauty and care products. Did you know they also make all-natural, non-toxic cleaning products that are perfect for the home or cottage? They include:
These products come in a variety of different scents, all derived from essential oils. Whether you love the smell of lavender, crave the fresh scent of mint, or want a natural citrus kick in the air, these cleaners have you covered.
To pick up any of these all-natural, organic cleaning products, you can click on the links above. And if you're ready to upgrade to all-natural beauty and body products too, we can help! To revamp your entire body care regimen, Thair Hair Boutique has the organic, all-natural beauty products that you've been looking for.
We believe in environmental-consciousness in all aspects of home and life. Here's wishing you and your family a clean and safe home.