Is Your Home Clean or Toxic?
Cleaning your home is good for your health – there’s no arguing that. But are you “cleaning” your home in a way that is toxic and harmful to your health?
Common household staples such as Tide, Febreze, Clorox, and dishwasher detergents are filled with toxic chemicals that may be contributing to your poor health. It’s important to know how to clean your home in a way that is safe for you and your family.
Common toxins in household cleaners
In America, there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household products, which means that harmful chemicals can easily make their way into your home . The average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals that have been linked to chronic health issues such as asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity . These chemicals also hurt us in more immediate ways such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes and chemical burns .
There are eight common toxins found in our household cleaners that harm us the most :
- Phthalates: These are found in fragranced products such as air fresheners, dish soap, and toilet paper. You’ll never find the word “phthalates” on a label because companies do not have to disclose what’s in their scents, but if you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there are likely phthalates in the product .
- Perchloroethylene or “PERC”: These are found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners .
- Triclosan: This aggressive antibacterial agent is found in most dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial” .
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or “QUATS”: These are found in fabric softener liquids and sheets and most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial”.
- 2-Butoxyethanol: This glycol ether is most commonly found in a window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners .
- Ammonia: This is found is glass cleaners as well as polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks and jewelry .
- Chlorine: This popular toxin is found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners and even your household tap water .
- Sodium Hydroxide: Otherwise known as lye, this corrosive toxin is found in oven cleaners and drain openers .
Safer Alternatives for Keeping Your Home Clean
While many common household cleaners should be avoided, there are safe options when buying pre-made products.
For laundry products, the safest choices currently are:
- Whole Foods Market Organic Laundry
- Tangie Laundry Paste Concentrate 
The top dishwashing soaps and detergents are:
- Attitude Dishwasher Eco-Pouches
- Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Automatic
- Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Powder 
And for bathroom cleaners, the best choices are:
- Eco-Me Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Phil
- Bi-O-Kleen SoyBlends Soy Toilet Cleaner
- Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Natural Cleaner 
Another safe route to go when cleaning your home is to use DIY products. Use the following recipes to safely clean your home:
- Basic Sink Cleanser: Combine ½ cup baking soda with six drops of an essential oil with a scent you prefer. Rinse the sink well with hot water and then sprinkle the combination into the sink with ¼ cup of vinegar poured over the top. After the fizz settles, scrub the sink with a damp sponge or cloth and then rinse again with hot water. (From The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier) 
- Oven Cleanser: Put a heatproof dish filled with water in the oven and then turn on the heat to let the steam soften any baked-on grease. Once the oven is cool, apply a past of equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar and then scrub the oven clean. (From Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer) 
- Bathroom Mold & Mildew Remover: Make sure to have good ventilation in your bathroom because it helps to prevent mildew and mold growth. When you do get mildew and mold, make a spray with 2 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon each of tea-tree and lavender oil. Shake the mixture together and then spray on trouble spots. The oils break down the mildew so there’s no need to wipe it down. (From Green Interior Design, by Lori Dennis) 
- Carpet Shampoo: Mix 3 cups of water, ¾ cup vegetable-based liquid soap and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. Rub the foam in soiled areas with a damp sponge and then let the areas dry thoroughly before vacuuming them clean. (From The Naturally Clean Home) 
- Laundry Soap: Try “soap nuts” made from the dried fruit of the Chinese soapberry tree. They are available in natural grocery stores and online. The soap nuts are reusable and come in a cotton sack that goes into the washing machine with clothes. 
- Dusting: Instead of using furniture polishes, use a microfiber cloth. These cloths are made from synthetic fibers that are then split into hundreds of smaller microfibers that help them capture dust more efficiently than regular rags. If needed, a little olive oil can be used as a polishing agent. 
Now that you know the safe alternatives, toss away the harmful toxins and make a truly clean home that will result in a healthier you.