Cleanliness is close to Godliness, so all bacteria should be exterminated with highly toxic chemicals, right? The stronger the smell, the cleaner it is, right? In reality, what your doing to keep your home clean may actually be harming you and your family. People talk about the harmful effects of car exhaust and city smog, but in all actuality one of the worst places for your health is in your own home. Indoor air quality is 6 to 7X more toxic than the outdoors. This is not a surprise due to the 85,000 chemicals that have been created since WWI and most of them can be found in our homes. The people who handle and package these chemicals have to wear hazmat suits, (that’s how dangerous they are) and yet here we are spraying them into our living spaces around our family and pets.
Scientific statistics have found that exposure to these chemicals create inflammation in our bodies. In women it increases the hormone levels, especially the estrogen, and this is being linked to the out of control number of breast cancer in women. In the 1970’s 1 out of 20 women had a chance of getting breast cancer. This ratio is now increased in number to 1 in 8 , with a high probability to increase.
The effects found in children are far worse being that their immune systems are still in development. The most common issue from household cleaners today would be asthma. Today 20 million people (10% of children) have asthma, which is 3X more than 25 years ago. That’s $16 billion in annual health care costs.
Let’s not forget the amount of children who have accidentally ingested these chemicals. How horrifying that would be to find your child passed out next to a chlorine bottle. I also used harsh chemicals, especially in our bathroom (the place I’m most germ phobic). They were so toxic that I would spray and run. It wasn’t until my baby totted his way into the bathroom in the mist of this cleaning process, touched the area I had just sprayed down, and was immediately rushed out (by me) to be washed, that I knew something was wrong. Why would I even have something so toxic in my home, in a cupboard and not locked in a hazmat safe. Shortly after that I was introduced to Shaklee and Youngliving and said goodbye to all my cleaners and I mean all! As frugal as I am (I mean it pains me to waste anything at all, I even wash and reuse my ziplock baggies) I threw away full containers of cleaners and I have never looked back. I mean what is there to miss, the immediate upon use skin and respiratory irritation, watery red eyes, chemical burns, even death or perhaps the long term use effects of chronic disease and cancer. These chemicals also happen to be endocrine distruptors, and our bodies are full of glands that produce different hormones (such as Thyroid, prostate, adrenals, intestines even). Now they are finding many of the complaints most people have (fatigue, ovarian cysts, prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease) all have a link to an endocrine disrupting chemical, mostly because these chemicals act as hormones, cause our organs to over-produce or under-produce hormones, and implement early cell death. What are some things we have to throw out and replaced?
1. Air fresheners (aerosol sprays, electric plug-ins, candles) are an absolute must go, proven to be cancer causing. They cause inflammation in the sinuses and liver damage as well. Phthalates, which are used to dissolve and carry fragrance, are linked to changes in hormone levels, poor semen quality, birth defects and reproductive harm.
2. Anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers are used everywhere with no one being aware of the damage they actually do by killing all our good bacteria, which is vital to our ability to fight off disease. It also causes kidney failure and interferes with the immune system development in children. It has also been shown to contribute to the new strains of antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs”. So our goal needs to be clean, not germ-free. People who are exposed to household germs typically develop strong immune systems and are healthier overall.
3. Fragrance is one that you will see most often and is just a nicer way of say Phthalates which causes cancer, infertility, and birth defects. The industry doesn’t require them to specifically label, so they take advantage and hide some of the most cancer causing agents under the fragrance label. It’s better to smell real cinnamon than to smell a candle that is chemically scented to smell like cinnamon anyway. Plus, if you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense that we would buy a toxic version of something that already exists in nature and is safe and smells better!
4. Dish washing detergents leave toxins on your dishes and then your food and then you. These product’s labels also warns against letting this product come in contact with mouth, eyes and skin. (Yet, somehow it’s safe to use on your dishes?) And if the warning on it says skin irritation, how can that be safe for hand washing your dishes?
5. Laundry detergents contain many neurotoxins which are left on your clothes, and are then on your body and become absorbed through your skin. Fabric softeners are also designed to stay in clothes and not fully rinse out, which means lingering chemicals come into contact with skin. Many can contain diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) which are carcinogens that readily penetrate the skin. See the problem?
One of my least favorite products is Lysol™ deodorizing spray. Some people are obsessed with using it to clean and deodorize the air in places such as the bathroom. Did you know that Lysol spray is purposely made sticky? You spray it in the air and it doesn’t actually diminish odors, it masks them. The sticky spray particles are inhaled by the user (and anyone who has the misfortune of being nearby), coating the hairs in the nose so you can only smell the Lysol. The bad smell is still in the air, you just can’t smell anything but what is stuck up your nose. The sticky particles are also inhaled into your lungs. Your lungs will produce mucous to rid the lung cilia of the sticky substance. Excess mucous floods your lungs, causing chest congestion, wheezing, and hopefully you cough to clear it out, but ultimately, you are drowning in your own phlegm. This is an asthmatic reaction that can send the sensitive to the Emergency Room.
Lets not forget what happens to these things once they are washed down our drains, some may break down into harmless substances during treatment at the sewage plants, but others are not and threaten water quality and fish and other wildlife. There was a study done which showed detergents in 69% of the streams they tested and 66% contained disinfectants, effecting the reproduction and survival of many fish and animals. When phosphates (found in water softeners) enter waterways, they act as a fertilizer, spawning overgrowth of algae. This overabundance of aquatic plant life eventually depletes the water's oxygen supply, killing off fish and other organisms. Plus every cleaner we replace and make ourselves, is one less plastic bottle that ends up in the giant plastic currant that is twice the size of Texas off the coast of California.
If it’s poison to ingest it, why would you use it to clean surfaces that you or your child or your companion animals come into contact with? Kids put their fingers in their mouths after touching the surfaces you’ve cleaned. Animals clean themselves constantly and they are laying on the floors you just used that poison on. And, lastly, YOU are touching these same surfaces that you just used rubber gloves to clean because you didn’t want to get the poison on your hands.
So why take the risk, when there are so many better, cheaper alternatives. You can clean surfaces naturally with a mixture of vinegar and water. You can clean almost anything with some variation of these ingredients: vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and natural soaps like Castile or hemp. If you don’t like the scent of vinegar, then add essential oils like lavender, which also has therapeutic calming effects, or lemon and orange which is a scent most people associate with cleanliness.
I don’t even walk down that aisle at the grocery store anymore, because the smells give me a headache. It’s funny how overloading your system with chemicals all the time desensitizes you, but once you step away from it for a while and go back you wonder how you could have ever used it at all. I hear people say, “but I like the smell of pledge”, I guarantee if you make a cleaner using real lemon oil and then try to go back you won’t. There is a huge difference between chemical lemon and lemon essential oil and I bet I won’t need to tell you which one is better. **Want to know what is in your products?? Download the "Think Dirty" app and scan your current household cleaners, makeup and laundry soap.