Healthy Household Cleaning
by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic
& Nutritional Healing Center
Did you know that conventional, store-bought household cleaners could be toxic? Checking the labels is necessary. There are often warning signs of toxicity and instructions to call Poison Control if ingested or exposed to skin and eyes. You will find advice on how to avoid toxic cleaners and how to make non-toxic cleaning products in this article.
Types of Toxic Household Cleaners
Toxic chemicals in conventional household cleaners vary in their severity, from acute hazards such as skin or respiratory issues, chemical burns, or watery eyes to chronic hazards such as cancer, fertility issues, ADHD, compromised immune system, and more.
Some of the most dangerous toxins out there reside in our cleaning products, and many of us expose ourselves to these toxins 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. Most of the toxic chemicals found in these household products fell into these categories: carcinogens, which cause or promote cancer; and endocrine disruptors, which mimic human hormones and cause false signals within the body and lead to issues such as infertility, premature puberty, miscarriage, and menstrual issues, as well as neurotoxins, which affect brain activity and cause problems such as headaches and memory loss.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also emitted from solids or liquids. VOCs are gasses and are found in many household products, from paints and varnishes to cleaning products and disinfectants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that some of the risks associated with VOCs are eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination and nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. According to the EPA, nearly half of all the products tested contained at least one of 24 carcinogenic air pollutants that have no safe exposure level.
Household Cleaners You May Want to Avoid
Air fresheners can trigger asthma and allergies. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can cause asthma, allergies, or lung irritation, as can cleaning products with artificial fragrances. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry to be toxic; yet, because the formulas used for these fragrances are trade secrets, companies are not required to disclose the ingredients used. Try to use antibacterial products only when necessary, as these products can encourage the development of drug-resistant superbugs. Corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are the most acutely dangerous cleaning products on the market. The ingredients in these cleaners can cause severe burns on the skin and eyes or if ingested to the throat and esophagus. Bleach and ammonia produce fumes with high acute toxicity to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and should not be used by people with asthma or lung issues. Used together, these products produce a toxic gas that can cause serious lung damage. Products that create suds (shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, laundry detergent) have ingredients such as 4-dioxane, DEA, TEA, sodium laurel sulfate, PEG compounds, etc. and are known carcinogens linked to organ toxicity.
Here Are Some Good Alternatives
In many cases, old-fashioned vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and other inexpensive ingredients found in your pantry can clean just as well or better than conventional or natural store-bought cleaning products. You can make your own homemade cleaners, often for less than a dollar, using the natural ingredients you probably already have around your home.
The following are a few recipes for household cleaners:
If you need an all-purpose cleaner, use two cups of water with two tablespoons of castile soap, or one cup of water with one cup of white distilled vinegar and half of a lemon juiced.
For a deep-cleaning bathroom cleaner, use one-and-two-thirds cup of baking soda, one-half cup of liquid castile soap, one-half cup of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and mix the ingredients until they have dissolved. Pour into a bottle and shake well before using.
To get out carpet stains, use two tablespoons of salt dissolved in one-half cup of white vinegar. Let the solution dry, and then vacuum. For larger or darker stains, add two tablespoons of borax to the mixture and use the same way.
For glass and mirror cleaner, use one-half cup rubbing alcohol, one-third cup white distilled vinegar, and add to a spray bottle, filling the rest of the bottle with distilled water. For laundry stain and spot remover, mix one-and-one-half cups of water, one-fourth cup liquid castile soap, and one-fourth cup liquid vegetable glycerin; pour into a bottle and treat spots immediately. Let soak before tossing into the wash.
If you are not up to making your own cleaning products, here are some “clean” cleaning products you can purchase at the store: Green Works, Dr. Bronners Castile Soap, Ecos, Seventh Generation, Method, JR Watkins, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Common Good.
Here are a few things you can do in addition to what has been discussed in order to reduce toxicity in your home:
One of the best air filters that you can purchase is plants. Consider adding easy-to-maintain household plants into your home.
Consider using a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
Regularly replace furnace and A/C unit filters.
Open windows to allow fresh airflow and promote the ventilation of toxic gases.
Use microfiber cloths or 100-percent cotton materials to dust and prevent the spread of additional dust to combat dust build-up.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of illness or non-optimum health.
The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.