We’ve become understandably hypersensitive to cleanliness, germs and viruses. We’re told to wash our hands, keep our distance and stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus that’s turned the world upside down.
We’ve raided stores to stock up on paper products, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. However, the overuse of many products can cause problems and have the potential to undo the very thing we’re trying to do in staying safe and healthy.
Have you ever noticed the labels of cleaning products don’t list the ingredients? In the United States and Canada, companies that make household cleaners aren’t required by law to list ingredients on packaging. That means you have no idea what you’re exposing yourself and your family to when you mop your floors or clean the oven. It’s frightening and potentially downright dangerous.
I couldn’t believe it when I read children miss a cumulative 14 million school days a year because of asthma. They now believe this could be linked to poor indoor air quality caused in part by chemical cleaners. A study conducted at the University of Bergen in Norway found regular use of cleaning sprays can have the same effects as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
In Europe, counties impose a reverse burden of proof. Manufacturers have to show chemicals are safe before they introduce them. But in the U.S. and Canada, chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. It begs the question: Why do so many brands use potentially harmful ingredients? The answer is simple: It’s cheaper and more profitable.
Ingredients in your cleaning products could hurt your family and our environment. Some laundry detergents can induce asthma, yet manufacturers are still allowed to sell them. Cleaning your bathtub could expose you to cancer-causing substances. Even your dish soap could hurt fish and other aquatic life near your home.
Many doctors and treatment centers tell patients to rid their homes of conventional cleaning products if they’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
Here are just three of the killer chemicals you might not find on labels:
Sodium hydroxide. This is found in dishwashing liquids, laundry products, oven cleaner, scouring cleansers and tub and tile cleaners. Inhalation can irritate the respiratory tract. Contact can cause severe damage to the eyes, skin, mouth and throat and also could cause liver and kidney damage.
Hydrochloric acid. This is found in odor eliminators and toilet bowl cleaners. This can cause severe damage to the skin. It can be harmful if inhaled and fatal if swallowed.
Butyl cellosolve. This is found in cleaning wipes, degreasers, floor polish, rug shampoos, toilet bowl cleaners, tub and tile cleaners and window cleaners. This can cause irritation and tissue damage from inhalation.
In my experience, green cleaners not only work better, but they’re also less expensive.
Green products use plant-based, rather than petroleum-based ingredients. They contain no phosphates, phthalates or ingredients that could be harmful to your health or the environment. They’re biodegradable in less than 28 days.
But are they as effective? Yes.
Many cleaning products that are nontoxic work better than conventional brands and are also more economical because many of them are concentrated. And because there’s less packaging, they’re better for the environment.
Some soaps and hand sanitizers can be harmful with overuse as well. Most hand sanitizers contain alcohol, which can dry out the hands and cause cracking. That leaves hands susceptible to germs and viruses that enter the blood system. Many soaps contain lye that can leave the pH of your hands out of balance and dry and cracked.
Use instead a mild hand washing liquid with such ingredients as algae extract, aloe, linden flower, oatmeal, vitamin E and wheat germ oil to moisturize and condition. Some other ingredients to look for are tilia cordata to soothe and rosemary and arnica extracts to energize.
Take stock of what you’re spraying around your home and putting on your body. There are lots of great products that can enhance your health rather than compromise it.
Take steps to eliminate the chemical load in your homes. Turn off the news and turn on some music. Get outdoors and breathe some fresh air.
This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, stay healthy.