Is the way you clean house actually making your home dirtier? Babies today are born with up to 200 chemicals already present in their bloodstreams—and many of these toxins can be found in the products we use to keep our houses tidy. And because women are still doing the majority of cleaning in most households, moms are at greater risk for reduced fertility, respiratory disorders and hormone disruption.
Here are the five essential changes we can all make to protect the family while keeping our house clean.
No ingredients on the label? Then leave it on the shelf. Only food and cosmetics are legally required to label ingredients. Look for products made with natural plant-based ingredients (like those sourced from coconut and olive oil) and without chlorine, dyes or fragrance.
Did you know that wipes and cleaners with antibacterial and antimicrobial agents also kill good bacteria? Triclosan, one of the most common anti-bacterial agents, creates dioxin, a carcinogen, as a by-product. A 2004 Swedish study found high levels of this bactericide in human breast milk. Instead, use soap and water. The old-fashioned way to wash your hands is still the best.
All-purpose cleaner takes just five minutes to make and works as well as conventional cleaners on bathroom tile, microwave gunk, floors and counter tops.
To 8 cups of warm water add 1 tablespoon of borax, 1/2 cup of liquid Castile soap and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Transfer to a spray bottle, label and it’s ready.
It’s not uncommon for the air inside a home or office to be more toxic than the air outside. This is because of the presence of toxic materials and substances inside the house and the fact that homes are better insulated than ever before (which is a good thing from an energy standpoint). Keeping windows open as often as possible allows fresh air in and keeps toxins flowing out. This is especially important while actually cleaning your home.
Synthetic fragrance or perfume is in everything from dryer sheets to detergent. Designed to linger, air freshener ingredients may include formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), naphthalene (a suspected carcinogen) and toluene (a cause of liver and kidney damage). Artificial scents can also trigger asthma attacks. For cleaner air, open your windows for 30 minutes daily, deodorize with baking soda or vinegar and choose an essential-oil-based non-aerosol air freshener.
Check out lesstoxiguide.ca for a shopping list of safe products, and if you think non-toxic cleaners can’t compete with conventional formulations, try one of our favourite standbys: