Top 10 Favorite Non-Toxic Household Cleaning Products
Did you know that there are no federal regulations for chemicals in household cleaning products? Common household cleaning products contaminate our home environment with toxins often without our knowledge, affecting the very air we breathe.
Environmental experts say that the average household contains 62 toxic chemicals. These chemicals lurk in everything from air freshener to the very hand soap we use to clean ourselves. We may not notice an immediate sensitivity to these common household products, but every time we use them we are increasing our body's toxic load because these chemicals have a cumulative effect.
Everyone's toxic load varies in susceptibility, but it is a scary thing to think that the next toxic cleaning product just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The toxic chemicals found in common household cleaning products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity.
In 2012 the Environmental Worker's Group conducted a study on common household cleaning products. Some of the worst offenders in the EWG Cleaners Hall of Shame list included the brands of: Lysol, Walmart's Great Value line, Glade, Febreze, Comet, Ajax, Drano, Target's Up and Up line, and Spic and Span.
This travesty affects thousands of Americans every day. Beware of labels that claim the product is green or all-natural. The environmental consulting group, Terra Choice, released a report in 2010 on the sins of greenwashing. Shockingly, over 95% of supposedly green consumer products had been labeled with a greenwashing falsehood. Even biodegradable products aren't always trustworthy because all items are biodegradable within a period of time. Look for biodegradable products marked within a specific time frame.
Perhaps we have made cleaning a little bit too complicated. When I think of how housewives cleaned their homes several generations ago they saved themselves money and protected both their bodies and the environment by keeping a few simple, multi-purpose cleaning products at hand. Many of these I will mention in my top 10 list below.
1. Meyer's All-Purpose cleaner
If you're too busy to mix up your own all-purpose cleaner then this is a good alternative. I've used it to clean sinks, toilets, showers, and tile with excellent results.
2. Baking Soda
This is one of the gems of the all-natural, non-toxic cleaning world. Baking soda functions as a deodorizer and non-abrasive cleaner for a variety of surfaces.
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer. It acts as a non-toxic alternative for a window cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, floor cleaner, fixture polish, and tile cleaner. It is also a natural fabric softener that can soften your clothes while cleaning your washing machine at the same time.
4. Nature's Valley Fragrance-Free Dish Soap
This dish soap is readily available, and yet it is free of dyes, fragrance, and chemicals that are endocrine disruptors like triclosan. It is just as tough on grease as other commercial dish soaps.
5. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds serve as a natural deodorizer. You can fill sachets with them and use them as an exfoliating agent.
6. Dead Down Wind Laundry Detergent
Sometimes it is difficult to remove odors and perfume from clothing. This detergent has never failed me. In the most stubborn cases, I've had to wash the clothing with it twice.
7. 7th Generation Automatic Dishwashing Powder
This worked really well on my dishes, and yet I noticed the absence of the noxious fumes that most dishwashing powders and detergents give off. It is readily available at many store chains.
8. Lemon juice
The acidic nature of lemon juice makes it a natural bleaching agent. It can be used to shine and scour a variety of surfaces when mixed with baking soda, but you might want to test sections of certain surfaces first.
9. Tea Tree Oil
One of the many uses for tea tree oil is that of a natural anti-bacterial agent. In the instance of mildew, according to Interior Design by Lori Dennis, simply mix 2 cups of water in a spray bottle with a ¼ teaspoon of tea tree oil and an essential oil such as lavender or orange. The oils break down the mildew so effectively that it doesn't even need wiping down.
10. Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap
This is an excellent non-toxic, all-purpose soap alternative. You can even wash your hair with it.
The responsibility ultimately resides with us – for our health, for our homes, for our children. Most companies only care about making a buck so it is up to us to enforce changes by withdrawing the support of our wallet. I quote Rebecca Sutton, PhD, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG): “In terms of household cleaners, neither ingredients nor products must meet any sort of safety standard, nor is any testing data or notification required before bringing a product to market.”
I encourage you to purpose to buy only non-toxic household cleaning products starting today or even better make your own. The EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning is an excellent free resource for anyone who desires to make informed choices about their household cleaning products.
Check out these other great articles by EmaxHealth on: The Top 3 Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Skincare for Men and Women to Avoid, Top 10 Personal Favorites in Non-Endocrine Disrupting Skincare Products, and Prevent Breast Cancer by Making Your Own Aluminum-Free Deodorant.