Why does Spring make you want to clean? I have this natural instinct to open the window, dump drawers, and scrub like a mad woman. But here’s the rub. Are your chemically laden cleaning products making you a mad woman or man? Stop! Learn why you need to make the jump to safer cleaning products. Your health is just too darn important. But don’t fret–I have you covered with 21 DIY recipes ranging from your own DIY Kombucha cleaning recipe to a healthier homemade goo be gone.
Are you ready to ditch the toxic cleaners?
Why Should You Use Safer Cleaning Products?
Take a peek at your present cleaners. Go ahead and turn over the bottle. I will wait.
Environmental Working Group lists the following red flags:
- “Chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.
- Will burn skin and eyes.
- Will penetrate skin and attack underlying tissues and bone.
- Suspected of damaging the unborn child.”
Does your products contain any of those warning? Do you really want to use them now?
While you are at it, be sure to check EWG’s Hall of Shame. Some of your favorite cleaners might be on their list.
Some cleaners are just downright nasty and could harm your family and you.
These toxic cleaning products can cause an increased risk in developing the following:
Studies have showed that asthma symptoms may worsen or develop from the inhalation of certain chemicals such as:
- benzlkonium chloride, which are added to products to kill germs, disinfect air freshners, and fabric softners.
- Ethanolamines which are used to control product acidity or act as detergents in cleaning products
- Bleach. Yep. The old stand-by. Beware of sodium hychlorite and amonnia hydroxide.
- Products similar to pine and citrus cleaner which contain VOCs that react with chemicals in the air. The California Air Resources Board recommends not to use these type of products on warm days because of the high ozone level in the air.
EWG surveyed many manufacturers to find that certain products contained known carcinogenics, which included formaldehyde, and 1, 4 dioxanine.
Formaldehyde may be generated in cleaners by formaldehyding releasing preservatives such as bronopol (also known as 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol.) Similar to fragrance, formaldehye formation is worse on smoggy days. The Report on Carcinogens, Thirteenth Edition from the National Toxicity Program states formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
The National Toxicity Program regards 1,4 dioxane as a “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.” 1,4 dioxane is a by-product from the reaction of chemicals (PEG and polyethylene compounds) during the manufacturing of detergents, shampoos, surfactants, and some food additives. It is also in paint strippers and varnishes as well. The general public is exposed through contact with these residues as well through ground water contamination.
A recent story in the Record found traces of 1,4 dioxane in more than 80 NJ drinking water systems. Currently, there are no standards for the regulation of this chemical in drinking water.
#3 Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity:
The EWG’s manufacturing survey revealed that borax, boric acid, Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (DEGME.) and sodium perborate were in some of the products. These chemicals are known or suspected to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity.
These chemicals are found in laundry or dishwashing detergents. ( Sodium perborate, an oxygen bleach, releases sodium borate during the bleach process.)
Studies on both men and women, who are exposed to high doses of boric acid, revealed that both men and women suffered reproductive toxicity.
Men have a higher risk of decreased sperm count and libido. On the other hand, female exposure could lead to reduced ovulation and fertility.
In addition, in the case of high exposure, borax and boric acid can cross the placenta, which in turn can lead to fetal skeletal development and birth weight issue.
However, EWG notes that the EPA failed to create a risk assessment of boric acid and borax in products which includes cosmetics and cleaners so it is unknown what the risk associated with using these chemicals are.
Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether is used as a degreaser in cleaning products. A 1989 California’s Department of Health Fact sheet regarding occupational hazards of glycol ethers, indicated that certain ethers (including DEGME) impact reproductive health. Men have suffered from lower sperm counts and children of women exposed had birth defects.
Again, EWG notes that there are few studies evaluating the reproductive risk of cleaning products that contain this chemical.
#4 Allergies and Irritation:
Many cleaner can cause mild to severe irritations to eyes, skin, and lungs. The Washington Toxic Coalition states that drain cleaners, most oven cleaners, some toilet bowl cleaners and rust removers can burn skin or eyes.
Cleaning products are among the products most frequently ingested accidentally by children. Corrosive and solvent-based products can cause serious damage.
Bleach has been linked to wheezing, respiratory damage as well as nose and eye irritation. In a 2009 study, researchers found that people who cleaned their home with bleach were more likely to have respiratory symptoms.
In addition, fragrances added to products may cause respiratory irritation, headaches, sneezing and watery eyes to those who are sensitive to fragrance or are allergic and/or an asthma sufferer.
Worse yet, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found a third of the chemicals used from fragrances are toxic. Many of the companies don’t list the chemicals used for their fragrances since they are considered trade secrets. Detergents, fabric softeners and many cleaners contain fragrance.
#5 Accidents: Burns and Poisonings:
Cleaning products are the most frequently ingested by children, in which corrosive and solvent based products can cause serious damage. According to the EWG, in 2010, 116,000 poison control calls were for children under the age of 5 involved in household cleaning accidents.
In addition, cleaning products can cause serious burns to the skin and eyes. They also can cause permanent tissue damage. Inhaling certain cleaners can cause harm to the lungs.
Okay–Isn’t it time to ditch your cleaners?
I think so.
What Do I Use?
I am a vinegar, soap, and bonami type of girl. It is easy on the wallet and so much better for you than many of the store bought green cleaners. In fact if you want to get fancy, you can spice up your vinegar with orange and grapefruit peels or basil flowers. (Just an FYI, if you do make your vinegar by seeping basil flowers in it, use it rather quickly. It looses its smell quickly.)
Make Your Own DIY Cleaners:
So if you are ready to ditch the chemicals here are list of DIY recipes for you to make yourself.
- How to Make Orange Peel Vinegar–Green Talk
- DIY Non-toxic Goo Gone Gunk Remover–The Soft Landing
- Multi-purpose Kombucha Cleaner. –Good Girl Gone Green.
- Homemade Soft Scrub Recipe + 12 More Awesome Uses for Castile Soap–Happy Mothering
- Homemade Window Cleaner Recipe–Happy Mothering
- Homemade Furniture Polish to Make Wood Shine Naturally–Happy Mothering
- Homemade Upholstery Cleaner Using Simple Ingredients–Happy Mothering
- Homemade Shower Cleaner That’s Great for the Tub & Tile Too!–Happy Mothering
- How to Remove Pet Urine Odor Naturally–The Soft Landing
- Truly Effective and Non-toxic Bleach Alternatives–The Soft Landing
- All Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner–Homespun Seasonal Living
- Vodka Disinfectant Spray Recipe–Scratch Mommy
- 6 DIY Non Toxic Cleaning Recipes–Small Footprint Family
- DIY Herbal Cleaner –It Takes Time
- DIY Washing Soda–It Takes Time
- Pumice for Cleaning–It Takes Time
- 12 Natural Cleaning Methods Using Vinegar and Baking Soda–Dr. Karen S. Lee
- How to Clean a Moldy Shower Curtain without Bleach–Dr Karen S. Lee
- Homemade Anti-Mold Spray & Bathroom Cleaner + 10 Ways to Reduce Moisture in Your Home and Clean Your Indoor Air–Recipes to Nourish
- Citrus Enzyme Cleaner Recipe–Dr. Karen S. Lee
- How to Spring Clean Your Bathroom Naturally–O’Boy Organic
Want More? Be sure to visit HERE where I list another (yes another) 11 more recipes such as Herbal Scouring Powder to How to clean carpet.
PS Be sure to check out Anna Lee Herbs for any of your dried herbal needs. Homegrown, harvest and dried from my garden.
Join the Conversation:
Do you use safer cleaning products that you love or do you have a homemade recipe to share?
National Toxicology Program. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/roc/roc13/.
Borax: Not the green alternative it’s cracked up to be. (2011, February 17). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2011/02/borax-not-green-alternative-its-cracked-be.
Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service. (2008, May 6). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/hesis/Documents/glycols.pdf.
How Toxic Are Your Household Cleaning Supplies? (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/how-toxic-are-your-household-cleaning-supplies.
Zock, J., Plana, E., Antó, J. M., Benke, G., Blanc, P. D., Carosso, A., . . . Kogevinas, M. (2009). Domestic use of hypochlorite bleach, atopic sensitization, and respiratory symptoms in adults. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 124(4). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19665775.