Today, let’s make some clean swaps with household cleaning products.
Many home cleaning products contain brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals, both of which disrupt thyroid function and cause a host of other health problems.
Many contain fragrance, which, as we’ve learned, is made up of hundreds of untested chemicals, including phthalates which are hormone disruptors. Fragrance is one of the top five allergens in the world.
There are many other harmful chemicals in standard cleaning products.
Just walk down the cleaning aisle in a regular grocery store and your body will tell you this isn't a place to hang out, put your feet up, and meditate.
But the good news is that there are plenty of safer, healthier options out there!
Just as I did with my article on personal care products, I will share with you how to choose safe products and let you know what I like to use in my own home.
How to Choose Safe Products
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a free online guide to healthy cleaning with safety ratings for over 2500 products. Look up the products you use and choose products that have an “A” rating.
Also look in your local natural foods store for healthier cleaning products. But keep in mind that many products labeled as green or natural are not healthy options. Be sure to read ingredient labels and check the EWG database to make sure it has an “A” rating. Avoid anything with "fragrance."
My personal picks for healthy cleaning:
Thieves Household Cleaner. This is a wonderful all-purpose cleaner for kitchen, bathroom, mirrors, and dusting. I buy a bottle of the concentrate and mix a little with water in a glass spray bottle and keep one in the kitchen and each bathroom. One bottle of concentrate lasts for years.
Branch Basics is a great small family-run company I love. I first bought it at an Amish health festival in PA. You buy a set which comes with one bottle of concentrated cleaner, and a set of empty spray bottles. Mix with water and have all your home cleaning needs taken care of for years to come. They use all plant and mineral based ingredients and no fragrance. They'll give you $10 off your first order on their website.
I know some people use white vinegar and water, as well as baking soda for cleaning.
Please toss your dryer sheets everyone. They are toxic. Most fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain fragrances which are made up of hundreds of untested chemicals including toxic ingredients such as phthalates and synthetic musks – both hormone disruptors. As I've shared, fragrances are among the world’s top five allergens.
Cleaning products do not need to have a scent. If you would like a scent, use natural, plant-based essential oils, not “fragrance.”
For laundry detergent, I like Molly’s Suds. It’s free of parabens, harsh chemicals, fragrance, and dyes and is naturally scented with peppermint essential oil.
For the dryer, I use wool dryer balls. They are a natural fabric softener, last for 1000 loads of laundry, and shorten drying time by up to 30%, saving energy. I add a few drops of my favorite essential oils (usually lavender or peppermint) right on the dryer balls to add a natural scent, but of course this is optional.
My husband once forgot to take a bottle of peppermint essential oil out of his pocket before his pants went through the washer and dryer. Boy did that load of laundry smell good once the bottle opened! Oops. You only need 5-10 drops for nice smelling laundry.
Oh, gosh, this is one of my pet peeves. Sprays like Febreze and Lysol and many other “air fresheners” are very hazardous to your health. They make it really hard for me to breathe when I go into a public restroom. Support your health and that of your friends and family and throw them away.
You can make your own air freshener spray in 5 minutes by filling a small spray bottle with half water, half witch hazel from your local drug store, and about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Easy, inexpensive, AND good for you! Essential oils have a lot of health benefits and smell wonderful.
I have given these homemade air freshener bottles to lots of friends as gifts. You might like to make a few extra for your friends.
If you want to purchase a ready-made air freshener, check out the EWG database.
Other tips for a cleaner, greener home:
Use a microfiber cleaning cloth and water for wet dusting so you are not breathing in a lot of dust. Vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Dust is full of chemicals, including phthalates, flame retardants, phenols, including bisphenol A, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), and fragrance chemicals.
Shoes track pesticides and other chemicals into the house. An easy way to reduce these chemical residues in your home is to get into the habit of taking off your shoes at the door. Then you won’t be tracking chemicals throughout the house and then walking around barefoot and absorbing them.
Disposing of Cleaning Products That You Already Own:
Can you flush them down the toilet?
No. Water treatment plants don’t get rid of them. They can harm wildlife and contaminate streams and rivers. You can either use them up and replace one by one, or drop off cleaning products at a household hazardous waste collection facility.
One by one, replace household cleaning products with safer ones using the guidelines and resources above.
There are many healthy cleaning options out there! Vote with your dollars.
You don't need to change everything at once. Just make one change at a time and you will have a much healthier environment down the road.