For me personally, aside from switching (gradually) to an eating style that incorporates mainly whole, unprocessed foods, switching out conventional cleaning supplies for non-toxic cleaners has made the most immediately noticeable impact on my health!
I don’t know about you, but when I used to use popular brands of all-purpose cleaners, glass, and toilet bowl cleaners, my eyes would water, my throat and lungs would burn, and the vast majority of the time I’d have a pounding headache by the time I was finished! “Good!” I thought; “that means things are really getting clean!” But how much more “clean”, really? Yes, I was living in a college apartment at the time, but what mega-mess monsters was I trying to obliterate!? And is it worth sacrificing my own health for the extreme sparkle? I decided not; I’ll let you decide for yourself!
What I will express, and this goes beyond household cleaners, is the importance as a consumer to day to educate ourselves; skip the front-of-package marketing and claims, and get straight to the back-of-the-bottle ingredient list. What you find may surprise you, or leave you asking questions…
As they are not a specific food or beverage, cleaning products are not regulated by the FDA (much like supplements and essential oils), and their regulating body, the EPA, only requires that they list chemicals that are “active disinfectants” or “known to be potentially harmful” (1). The trouble with that is, there is no required testing or safety standard that must be met before products are brought to market (2)! According to the EWG, some 2,000 American household cleaning products contain chemicals that pose harm to our health, and increase the risk for asthma, cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and a myriad of allergies, on top of the usual concern with burns or poisoning (3).
The average home contains roughly 62 toxic chemicals in household cleaners alone (2); here are the biggies to look out for: phthalates, PERC, triclosan, “QUATS”, 2-Butoxyethanol, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide (2), along with phosphates, pesticides, and synthetic fragrances (4). Much like the SkinDeep database the EWG provides for examining your cosmetics for known health risks, you can go to: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health and type in your household cleaners to examine each ingredient and its known risks to health.
There are many greener, plant-derived cleaners available on the market today as well, many of which are sold widely in big box stores; it’s good to be aware of “greenwashing”marketing claims and images on the front of the package that might lead you to believe it is a better option for you when in fact it contains many of the same harmful chemicals.
Another option is to go the DIY route; that way you have complete control over what goes into your cleaners, and the majority of the chemical, allergy, and poison risks are eliminated. While it may take a couple of minutes of your time, it can be extremely cost effective, and also allows you to reduce your use of plastics: win-win!
I honestly prefer to keep things very simple; therefore, the two cleaners pictured are truly the only cleaners I use (and am slowly getting my husband on board!). I use the all-purpose cleaner on our marble countertops, stovetop, wood table, tub and tiles, sinks and toilets, and have even used it as a stain remover on cotton clothing and our couch! The other bottle is a glass/window cleaner. That’s it. For carpet stains, I make up a cleaner in the moment; but you could keep the recipe below handy.
Pictured Recipe (5):
1C. Distilled Water (I just use filtered)
1C. White Vinegar
1TBSP doTERRA cleaning concentrate (can LITERALLY be used as dish soap, a base for all forms of cleaners, laundry detergent)
10 drops doTERRA Lemon
10 drops doTERRA Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
Basic DIY All-Purpose Cleaner:
1C. Distilled Water
½ Lemon, juiced
Pictured Recipe (5):
2TBSP White Vinegar
2TBSP Rubbing Alcohol
5-10 drops doTERRA Peppermint
While you can absolutely purchase lemon, tea tree, and peppermint essential oil elsewhere, I would encourage you to be informed about their sources as well; please make sure they are pure and no synthetics are being added to them (the point of going through the trouble of creating DIY cleaners!). I purchased two amber colored glass bottles to make the sprays, but you can absolutely reuse bottles you have available. I don’t recommend reusing plastic bottles; the vinegar, alcohol, and essential oils will break it down, leaving behind micro-plastics and harmful chemicals.
I hope you find these recipes and the consideration of links between household cleaners' chemical profiles and health-related symptoms (headaches, respiratory issues, allergies) helpful!
Do you DIY? What are your favorite recipes? Please share below!
I LOVE hearing your insights, revelations, and a-has as well as your questions! Have a specific topic you'd like to see covered on the blog or in the podcast (Empowered Practice)? Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get on it!
Wishing you the greater ease and flow that can come from simplifying,