The best-known cleaning products are also the ones laced heavily with harsh chemicals. Mr. Clean, Windex, Clorox — all effective, none organic or safe for the body. The problem with switching over to more ecofriendly cleaning products — ones that won’t coat your home with brain-cell-killing fumes — is that lots of brands claim to be “natural” or “organic.” But unlike the USDA-certified-organic stickers you can look for in a grocery store’s produce section, you won’t find any such federal regulation in the housekeeping aisle. (These kinds of companies aren’t even required to list their ingredients, meaning they can sneak in chemicals without mentioning them anywhere on the bottle.)
Some of the most dangerous toxins out there reside in our cleaning products, and we’re putting our health at risk by exposing ourselves to them on a daily basis. Researchers at the University of Washington tested a variety of popular household cleaning products, including air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, soaps, laundry detergents, dish soap, dryer sheets and fabric softeners, as well as personal care products like shampoos, deodorants and lotions.
Volatile organic compounds are gases emitted from solids or liquids. They’re found in many household products, from paints and varnishes to cleaning products and disinfectants. The EPA states that some of the risks associated with VOCs are:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
- Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals, and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans
In summary, this is what they found:
- A whopping 133 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the products – even in those labelled ‘green’, ‘natural’ or ‘organic’.
- On average, 17 VOCs were found in each product, with anywhere from 1-8 of those 17 chemicals being toxic or hazardous.
- Nearly half of the products contained at least one of 24 carcinogenic air pollutants that have no safe exposure level, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Check out EWG.org or the “ThinkDirty” app to check the toxicity levels of your household cleaning items and beauty products!
“Clean” Cleaning Products
- Green Works
- Dr. Bronners Castile Soap
- Seventh Generation
- JR Watkins
- Mrs. Meyers
- Common Good
Making Your Own Cleaning Products
(use glass bottles if possible, essential oils optional)
- 2c water
- 2tb castile soap
- 1c water
- 1c white distilled vinegar
- ½ lemon juiced
Deep-Cleaning Bathroom Cleaner
- 1 2/3c baking soda
- 1/2c liquid castile soap
- 1/2c water
- 2tbs white vinegar
- 1. Mix baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with water and add the vinegar. Stir the mixture with a fork until any lumps have been dissolved. Pour the liquid into the bottle. Shake well before using.
- 2bs salt dissolved in 1/2c white vinegar
- Let the solution dry, then vacuum. For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.
Glass & Mirror Cleaner
- 1/2c rubbing/isopropyl alcohol
- 1/3c white distilled vinegar
- Distilled water
- Add alcohol & vinegar to the bottle, then fill with water.
Laundry Stain & Spot Remover
- 1 1/2c water
- 1/4c liquid castile soap
- 1/4c liquid vegetable glycerin
- Treat spot immediately and let soak before tossing into wash
Mix 3 parts apple cider vinegar and 1 part water in a shallow bowl. Add 3-4 drops of dish soap. The smell of the vinegar will attract them and the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar/water. Now when they land they are stuck.