BETTER LIVING: 10 Household Products to Ditch NOW
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Chlorine bleach, in its numerous incarnations, is the subject of 40% of calls to poison control centers across the nation. It's also incredibly hazardous to the environment: its industrial use results in the creation of dioxins, a family of chemicals which are among the most toxic and carcinogenic known to man. Instead of chlorine bleach in your laundry, use powdered or liquid oxygen bleach to whiten and brighten. Oxygen bleach works well for cleaning most surfaces, too.
If they kill germs – which are single-celled organisms – they’ll kill your cells too. You may not notice the absence of a few cells here and there, but cell damage can add up to major harm over years of exposure. Also, there is evidence that overuse of antibacterial products can compromise your immune system, and encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
3. Drain Cleaner
These preparations are highly caustic, and are corrosive to skin and mucous membranes. They can also be fatal if swallowed, and inhalation of fumes can cause injuries to the mouth, nose, and throat. Why subject yourself to that if you don’t have to? Grease clogs can usually be broken up by pouring a kettle full of boiling water down the drain.
4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Bleach, caustics, phosphates, and petroleum based surfactants are some of the nasties in conventional toilet bowl cleaners – and you’re sticking your face right over the fumes while you scrub. Protect your health and the environment by sticking to an enzyme-based bowl cleaner.
5. Tub and Tile Cleaners
Like toilet bowl cleaners, tile cleaners often combine bleach and caustic chemicals. Toss the harsh stuff and try oxygen bleach, white vinegar and lemon juice, or an enzyme-based cleaner to power through tough shower residue.
6. Air Fresheners
Most air freshener sprays use ‘Liquefied Sweetened Petroleum Gas’ to deliver that fresh chemical scent into the air. Ditto for those plug-ins. If you want your home to smell fresh, try burning natural soy candles scented with essential oils, or incense made from natural resins (I like Nag Champa).
7. Laundry Detergents
Chemical fragrances are considered proprietary formulas and are not tested by the FDA (or by anyone but the chemical companies) for safety. With the exception of air fresheners, laundry detergents contain more of these questionable chemicals than any other product in your home. Also, petroleum based surfactants (read, bubbles and degreasers) can be hazardous to you and to the environment. Natural, phosphate-free, biodegradable laundry detergents get your clothes just as clean, without all the side effects.
8. Floor cleaners
Studies show that we absorb half of all substances that contact our skin. And a lot of skin contacts your floors – bare feet, baby’s knees, Spot’s tongue. Why use chemicals that can leave residues for you to track through the rest of your home? A citrus-based cleaner and degreaser is great for floors, and totally non-toxic.
9. Automatic Dishwashing Powders/Liquids
You wouldn’t put bleach in your food – or petroleum derivatives, phosphates, or untested chemical fragrances – so why use them on your dishes? Choose enzyme-based, petroleum- and phosphate-free automatic dishwashing detergents.
10. Glass Cleaners
Why use toxic ammonia when warm water and white vinegar work just fine? Or, look for glass cleaners with plant-based surfactants; most of them double as surface cleaners.
Other cleaners to watch out for: wood floor polish, oven cleaners, dusting sprays, and ‘fabric refreshers’.
You don't have to take my word for it: you can go to the Household Products Database and see for yourself what’s in your current products. The more you learn, the more you'll agree that cleaning green is the best choice for you and your family.
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