When it comes to buying cleaning products our only expectation is that they do one thing: clean! But we as a society tend to get so caught up in the marketing of things that we gravitate towards the punchy taglines—like “tough on grease!” or “kills 99% of bacteria!”—but often don’t pause to think about what we’re actually getting when we buy them.
There is such a wide range of products out there, and that big, bold promise on the side of that bottle of window cleaner speaks to us a lot more than what’s actually inside the products we’re buying. When we shop, we tend to put a lot of stock into the foods we’re buying by reading the labels to ensure it’s MSG-free, organic, free-range, etc.. But how many of us actually stop to read the labels on our cleaning products too?
Just because a cleaning product boasts it’ll kill more bacteria than another product, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually the best product for you to buy. Most of these foams, scents, detergents, and cleaners contain harmful chemicals that, though great at cleaning, are not great for your health.
What’s Beneath the Label
So how do you know if the cleaning products in your closet may be causing you harm? The best way to figure this out is to know what chemicals are harmful, and avoid purchasing products that contain these toxins.
Chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, sodium hydroxide, and parabens are commonly found in most popular cleaning products, but come with a host of health issues. These common ingredients affect your health in varying ways, but most specifically target your lung health if inhaled. Given enough exposure, other affected areas may include your hormones and reproductive functions.
A lot of products also contain something called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but don’t let the word “organic” fool you; there’s nothing natural about chemicals that can cause chronic respiratory illnesses—like asthma—and headaches. Products containing VOCs that might be putting you at risk include aerosol sprays, air fresheners, dish detergent, oven spray, and floor polish—just to name a few.
Though it might make sense to buy the brands with the words “green” or “eco-friendly” printed on them, ensuring your cupboards are filled with healthy cleaning products doesn’t necessarily mean that these are your go-to options. Cleaning products are not regulated in the same way as products like food, and because of that, a lot of “green” products are not actually any better for you than the regular brands.
Believe it or not, the best way to get a healthy, but effective clean, is to use basic products you probably already have lying around your house. With a little elbow grease and a good sponge, most cleaning jobs can be performed using these few simple ingredients:
Examples of some homemade cleaning concoctions include sprinkling a little baking soda on a tough counter or stove stain and then spraying it with vinegar to create a chemical reaction (think back to your volcano science experiments) that helps lift stains with ease.
You could also mix a bit of lemon juice with salt to create your own natural scrubber, which can help clean off BBQ grills or other caked on foods to give you a clean polish and a pleasant, fresh smell with no harmful side effects.
Even soaking your clothes in a mixture of borax and warm water before starting your wash cycle can work wonders to remove stains from clothes. Doing this can be just as effective as using chemical detergents, but borax won’t cause the allergic reactions that many people get from regular laundry detergents.
There are so many options when it comes to green cleaning with such basic, simple, and cheap ingredients that you can create your own DIY cleaning products at a much lower cost than stocking up on store-bought chemical cleaners. But if you’re not too enthused about doing the cleaning yourself, there are plenty of housekeepers on Housekeeper.com that offer “green cleaning” services as a safe alternative to the usual housekeeping services. You can always search our site for housekeepers offering green cleaning alternatives to ensure your home is toxin-free.
Whether you’re a housekeeper providing house cleaning services, or someone living where these types of chemicals are being used, both short- and long-term exposure can lead to health issues that could be best avoided by ditching the toxins and going green. If you want to take your health seriously, your best option is to use natural ingredients in place of chemical cleaners so that you know exactly what’s in them when you clean and what’s being applied to the surfaces you use throughout the day.