The daunting chore of spring cleaning marks an opportunity to make your home less toxic. There are many hidden hazardous chemicals in common cleaning products and household items—from glass cleaner to hand soap to your living room sofa—so we’ve compiled a short to-do list to help make your home safer. This list is not extensive, but it’s a start. And, by completing these three simple tasks you can start removing many questionable chemicals from your family’s abode.
Alright, let’s detoxify:
- Ditch antibacterial & toxic cleaning products:
- Avoid flame retardant chemicals and chemical barriers:
- Go unscented (for the most part):
Did you know that products labelled “antibacterial’ or ”antimicrobial” contain pesticides? Or that many common cleaning products contain ingredients like ammonia and coal tar dyes? Unfortunately, American manufacturers are not required to warn consumers about the health and environmental hazards associated with long-term exposure to chemical ingredients in cleaning products.
Preventative measures: forgo cleaners with a laundry list of chemical ingredients. Try ones with simple, non-toxic ingredients. Some reputable brands to consider are Method, Molly’s Suds and Seventh Generation. Or, save some money by trying these easy-to-make homemade mixtures:
General cleaner: one part white vinegar and nine parts water—spray it on and let it dry on its own. When you’re finished cleaning, dump the solution down your garbage disposal or toilet. (bonus tip: add lemon juice for increased odor control)
Glass cleaner: mix one part white vinegar with one part water, and spray.
Kitchen counter cleaner: first, wipe your surface with hot, soapy water using unscented castile soap and then follow with a vinegar-water solution. (bonus tip: spray a little hydrogen peroxide after using your vinegar-water mixture to kill extra germs)
Some are potentially very harmful, like: Flame retardant chemicals surround us. They can be in everything from our curtains, bedding and carpet to our couches, mattresses and other upholstered furniture. And some are potentially very harmful, like:
Halogenated flame retardants: (also known as organohalogen flame retardants) contain chlorine or bromine bonded to carbon.
Organophosphorous flame retardants: contain phosphorous bonded to carbon.
These chemicals are seriously everywhere. According to the New York Times, “Flame retardants have been found in Antarctic penguins and Arctic orcas; in North American kestrels and barn owls; in bird eggs in Spain, fish in Canada and, indirectly, in bees — honey from Brazil, Morocco, Spain and Portugal has been found tainted with flame retardants.”
Refresh your bedroom and nursery with mattresses, as well as sheets and pillow covers, made without flame retardant chemicals or chemical barriers. Avoid new furniture that has a tag that says “complies with California Technical Bulletin 117.” California requires all upholstered furniture to be flame retardant and nearly all furniture sold in the U.S. is compliant with California law.
“Whether it’s your car air freshener, laundry detergent, cologne, or ‘pine fresh’ after shave, if it’s scented, it’s likely laden with phthalates,” according to the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). In other words, anything labeled “fragrance” or “perfume,” if not derived from natural ingredients like essential oils, may include questionable chemicals. Heather Patisaul, a phthalate researcher at North Carolina State University told CEH, “You’ll usually just see the generic term ‘fragrance’ to describe a proprietary mixture of chemicals.”
To avoid irritating allergens, buy unscented products (that are also free from harmful chemicals… see Tip #1… even unscented products can contain harmful ingredients) and stop using air fresheners. To deodorize your home, try opening up a few windows and setting out a cup of baking soda.
PS. Don’t forget your four-legged family members. Artificial and various natural scents can really irritate a dog’s nose. Their sense of smell is way more sensitive (about 10,000x more!) than ours.
We hope you have found these simple spring cleaning tips informative and useful. Join us. Make a pledge to detoxify your house, for your safety and for our plant. Please share your non-toxic spring cleaning tips with us on Twitter by tweeting @NaturepedicYou —Happy detoxifying!