One of the first areas I explored after my cancer diagnosis was the cleaning products I was using. Years ago I thought I was being a super mom in that I was keeping a really clean house. Little did I realize that behind the “sparkle” I was exposing my family and pets to toxic fumes from most of the cleaning products I was using. One of the worst was bleach. Boy did my toilets and ceramic bowls shine but at an expense of poor and toxic air quality to me and my family.
There are a number of products that have been almost universally highlighted for their potential toxicity. The Cleaners Hall of Shame list published in 2012 by the Environmental Working Group: Click here to view the list in PDF format.
Bleach is inexpensive and is still used in many households but I learned that it’s one of the most corrosive and deadly chemicals out there. And it poses MORE danger to young children than adults. I also learned that when bleach comes in contact with the ammonia from urine, it creates a dangerous gas. That blew me away! That first flush after cleaning with bleach…..WOW! I had just launched my own invisible, mushroom cloud of toxic gas in my bathrooms. As a toxic gas, bleach also can cause wheezing, cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, infertility, immune problems and diabetes. Upon learning this, I immediately discarded the bleach bottle from my home and sought out more natural cleaning products.
When it comes to your toilets here’s what I found and what’s been much more healthy in my home. White vinegar and baking soda, both inexpensive household items, do a wonderful job. Here’s what I do: Add 1 cup of white vinegar to your toilet bowl and swish around a bit, then add 1 cup of baking soda. Let those two sit for about 5 minutes, then add another cup of vinegar and start scrubbing. You may need to add more vinegar to get above the water line. Let the mixture continue to sit for another 15 minutes and flush. For stubborn stains you may need a few applications but isn’t it worth it for not exposing ourselves and family members to toxic fumes.
Protecting our Children and pets from household cleaning products cannot be emphasized enough with me. Oven, toilet cleaners, and especially bleach, are the worst offenders, especially to young children who have underdeveloped lungs…they actually inhale more of the pollutants around us since the diameter of their airways are smaller and they take in more air in that they breathe faster in that they are small. Young children are also at much higher risk of accidental poisonings.
Early inhalation exposure can set small children up for so many respiratory problems down the road in addition to the following:
• Cancer (humans and pets)
• Asthma or make it worse
• Reproductive disorders
• Lung inflammation
• Defects in unborn children
• Skin burns
•Long lasting problems in the environment
Speaking of the environment. Here’s what keeps me awake at night: Where DO those millions of gallons of toxic chemicals go when we flush them down the toilets or drains each day? Do our sewage plants make sure all traces of these toxins are removed? Will they poison the fish and vegetation in the rivers and aquifers before making their way into our drinking water? Our local towns have now made it pretty easy to get rid of unwanted toxic chemicals in our home and office environments so if you decide to replace your household cleaners with more natural options, chek your local communities for toxic chemical collection days.
I’m seeing a much greater range of all natural, “green to the environment” cleaning products in the grocery stores. For many years I was buying some Seventh Generation products at Whole Foods but now they’re available at Target at very affordable prices. Here are some other natural brands to look for that I have tried and like:
• The Honest Company (started by the actress Jessica Alba for her children)
• Shaklee Their Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate. One 16 oz. bottle makes 48 gallons of cleaning power. A small drop in a spray bottle gives you a very effective cleaning product. I’ve used it on my counters and sinks for the past 9 years. Search the web for a Shaklee representative in your area, or order online.
If you are one of the many households who use a cleaning service, you can ask if they use all natural products. If not, consider providing them with yours.
With the wider, affordable range of natural cleaning products on our local shelves, including vinegar, baking soda, we all have the opportunity to breathe clean, nontoxic air, reduce accidental poisonings in young children and our pets, not spend a fortune and still have clean homes!
• Be particularly mindful of any products with labels that say “Poison,” “Danger,” or “Fatal if swallowed or inhaled,” according to the US Poison Control Centers. “A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds at home.”
• The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons states that of the 7 million accidental poisonings each year, 75% are children under the age of 6!
• The Environmental Protection Agency reports that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution.”