Danger: Exposure to Chemicals… in Your Home.

istockphoto_5401406-skull-and-crossbonesNot to be an alarmist, but did you know that many common household products include chemicals that could be harmful to your health, not to mention the Earth? Here are some startling facts:

  • Women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home. The study concluded that this was a direct result of the increased exposure to toxic chemicals… many of which are found in common household products! (**According to a 15-year Toronto Indoor Air Conference).
  • Many common household products contain known carcinogens and/or neurotoxins (i.e., cancer- causing and/or causing damage to the nervous system). Some of these include Windex, Dawn, Joy, Sunlight, Lysol, Arm & Hammer Heavy Duty Detergent, Tilex Soap Scum Remover, Bon Ami Foam Cleaner, Shout Aerosol, Spray ‘n Wash Tough Stain Remover, Pin-Sol, and Spic and Span Pine Cleaner Liquid (according to the book, The Safe Shoppers Bible).
  • Green Cleaning Schools Act: Mandates IL schools must phase out toxic cleaners and is based on the “legislative findings that children are vulnerable to and may be severely affected by exposure to chemicals, hazardous waste and other environmental hazards. The EPA estimates that human exposure to indoor air pollutants can be 2 to 5 times and up to 100 times higher than outdoor levels.” For more information on the Green Cleanin Schools Act, click here. If you’d like to know whether your state has or is considering green school legislation, click here.

soap bubbleGood news: chemical-free cleaning is possible! If you have a cleaning service that uses their own products, you may want to consider an eco-friendly cleaning service approved by Green America. (Green America is a not-for-profit organization that work’s for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come). Do you know what’s under your sink??

For you do-it-yourself-ers: Here are some easy cleaning agents you can mix up yourself from ingredients you probably already have at home! (Don’t panic if you’re like me, you have no time for this DIY nonsense–although it is the eco-friendliest option. Just scroll right past these recipes to the cleaning products I recommend).

Porcelain & Tiles:

  • Baking Soda and Water (with kosher salt): Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. Add some kosher salt for  tougher jobs.
  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Great for stains, mildew and grease streaks. Spray and let sit a few minutes, Then just scrub away with a stiff brush.
  • Disinfectant: mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. A perfect, safe alternative to bleach.
  • Baking Soda and Water: Just sprinkle counters with baking soda, then scrub with a damp cloth or sponge. For stains, knead the baking soda and water into a paste and let set for a while before you remove. Also a great solution for stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, containers, refrigerators and oven tops. Add kosher salt if you need a tougher abrasive.
  • Natural Disinfectant: Mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray or rub on countertops and other kitchen surfaces.

Windows & Mirrors

  • White Vinegar, Water and Newspaper: Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which are wasteful and cause streaking. You can substitute undiluted lemon juice or club soda for vinegar, if preferred.

Carpet and Rugs

  • Club Soda: In order for this to work,  you have to act immediately. Lift off any solids, then liberally pour on club soda. Blot with an old rag.
  • Cornmeal: For big spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum.
  • Spot Cleaner: 1/4 cup non-toxic liquid soap or detergent in a blender, with 1/3 cup water. Mix until foamy. Spray on, then rinse with vinegar.
  • Deodorizer: Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the carpet or rug, using about 1 cup per medium-sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes.
  • Vinegar: Whip up a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water. Put in a recycled spray bottle, then spray on a cotton rag or towel until lightly damp. Then mop your floors, scrubbing away any grime.
Oven Cleaning
  • Baking Soda and Water: Create a paste with water and baking soda and coat the inside. Let stand overnight. Then, don gloves and scour. Complete the task with a moist cloth.

Clogged Drains

  • Baking Soda and Boiling Water (vinegar if needed): Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the problem drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Not enough, chase the baking soda with a 1/2 cup of vinegar and cover tightly. The fizzing of the chemical reaction helps to break up the clog. Flush with one gallon of boiling water.

For You “Just-Show-Me-the-Product” Folks
My favorite green, non-toxic, concentrated household products are from Shaklee. A friend of mine introduced me to the company a couple  years ago… I just fell in love. In fact, after doing my own due diligence on the company, I eventually became an independent distributor. If you want to try Shaklee, the best value–featured on Oprah numerous times– is the Get Clean kit.  You’ll get everything from all-purpose organic cleaner (there is a very minimal amount of mixing involved, but spray bottles are included), laundry detergent, stain remover (which my neighbor raves about as the ONLY product that has been able to do the heavily lifting on rug stains) to scour-off paste for ovens, hand wash, dish soap and automatic dishwasher concentrate. The kit replaces 830 bottles of conventional ready-to-use cleaning products you use in your house, kitchen and laundry–with over $3,400 of equivalent cleaning power.

Of course, non-toxic household products are popping up all the time, readily available at Walmart, Target, Costco and other grocery stores. You may want to do your own research before jumping into a “non-toxic” household product line. What’s on the label? (If you’re not sure about a specific ingredient, please feel free to ask via the comment section below.) Is the company involved in environmental causes or taking measures to offset its carbon footprint? Is the company manufacturing other toxic products that are potentially compromising to our long-term health and the environment?

What makes Shaklee so special? Since their inception over 50 years ago, Shaklee has worked quietly on groundbreaking environmental initiatives.  In 1989, Shaklee helped build schools and health clinics and planted one million trees in Asia in partnership with the American Himalayan Foundation, chaired by Sir Edmund Hillary. In 2000, Shaklee became the first company in the world to obtain Climate Neutral™ certification and totally offset its C02 emissions, resulting in a net zero impact on the environment. They continue to supporting local community initiatives and forge partnerships with visionary environmental leaders and global non-profit organizations, including Dr. Wangari Maathai, the Founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Remember, you can make the switch to eco-friendly one product at a time. If you decide to dive right in, your unused (even opened) cleaning products can be donated!

Happy cleaning 🙂

One Response

  1. […] switching to organic cloth napkins; washing laundry with cold water; switching to non-toxic household products. If each person in the U.S. made just one change, a difference could be […]

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