Safe Cleaning Products
Are your cleaning products doing more harm than good?
We live in a world full of toxic chemicals. The thousands of chemicals we’re exposed to cause a variety of health problems from endocrine disruption to asthma and allergic reactions. Some may likely be carcinogenic and cause cancer. We’ve only just begun to connect the dots and compile research on some of these harmful ingredients. Included are all of the scents we are experiencing in these products or willingly use to make our homes smell better. As the EPA states, “Clean is not a smell!”
Grab all your cleaning products and start checking labels. According to the CDC, chemical ingredients to avoid include:
2-butoxyethanol (or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether) and other glycol ethers
Alkylphenol ethoxylates (some common ones: nonylphenol and octylphenol ethoxylates, octoxynols)
Dyes (may be listed as FD&C or D&C)
Ethanolamines (common ones to look out for: monoethanolamine [MEA], diethanolamine [DEA], triethanolamine [TEA])
Pine or citrus oil
Quaternary ammonium compounds Look out for these:
-alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC), benzalkonium chloride, dodecyl-dimethyl-benzyl ammonium chloride
-lauryl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
-didecyl and didecyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
So what do we do?? Despite our best efforts, it’s impossible to completely remove them from our lives. We are unable to go anywhere without some exposure risk. However, we can minimize our exposure by looking closely at what we bring into our homes for everyday cleaning.
Part of our daily/weekly cleaning routine should be primarily that. Cleaning. What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning removes dirt and some germs from the surface. This is the first step to any cleaning routine. Sometimes you're simply moving dirt from one place to the next. Depending on the mess, it may be all you need. Next, you can disinfect the surface. Disinfecting is the process of eliminating most bacteria, viruses, etc. through the use of powerful chemicals. This happens on contact and the surface needs to stay wet for the recommended contact time on the container label for it to be effective. Sometimes the contact time is long, like 5 minutes, which would mean many applications to keep the surface wet. Sure, there are situations that call for bleach to kill off harmful germs. You can find a handy dilution chart at the Water Quality and Health Council website. It's also important to use the right chemical for the job to avoid creating resistant strains (aka "superbugs"). For everyday use, you can usually avoid using harmful chemicals.
Did you know the EPA does not regulate all the chemicals found in household cleaning products?? Companies can get away with just vaguely identifying a harmful chemical in their ingredient list, using terms like “surfactant” or “cleaning agent”. Third-party groups identify review products in terms of their safety to humans and wildlife. An organization called the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, fills in the gaps by monitoring many products on the market and provides lists of best and worst for consumers. Whether you’re looking to clean or disinfect, their app is a valuable tool when you’re out at the store and looking to buy a safer product. You can find them at all kinds of stores, even Target. While you’re online, check out their lists here.
My SAFEST cleaning product recommendation is…drumroll...soap and warm water with a microfiber cloth! The dense fibers in a microfiber cloth pull up more dirt and germs than cotton. Mild soap, like Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, is safe and worry-free if someone accidentally touches it.
I also love to use vinegar. While some cannot stand the smell, just know it doesn’t linger forever. It will also work as a powerful odor eliminator. Aunt Fanny’s Cleaning Vinegar has some nice natural scented varieties that I love for my kitchen counters. I’m really loving the lime scent.
Baking soda is great too. Combined with a little vinegar, you can scrub many surfaces without much effort. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse when you're done to avoid any residual baking soda.
Another new favorite is making my own homemade cleaners with doTerra essential oils. The all-purpose cleaning spray I made with just some vinegar and On Guard essential oil smells great and cleans really well without leaving a residue. I have some recipes on my Pinterest board and am adding all the time, so check it out! Click here to follow my boards.
Interested in making your own safe cleaners? Click here to shop on my doTerra site and get some great oils.
What are your favorite safe cleaning tips? Drop me a line below.
Here’s to a happy spring with some effective, safe cleaning for you and your family!
For a quick link to doterra cleaning recipes, visit https://www.doterra.com/US/en/brochures-magazines-doterra-living-spring-2016-make-over-your-cleaning-routine
For the full document: “Green Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting: A Curriculum for Early Care and Education” visit the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/ece_curriculumfinal.pdf
Water Quality and Health Council https://waterandhealth.org/disinfect/cleaning-vs-disinfecting-whats-difference/