Have you ever gone shopping and walked down the cleaning product aisle and almost immediately feel light-headed, or nauseated? It happens to me all the time. So, I decided to toss all those toxic cleaning products and make my own.
If the stinging from breathing in chemicals every time you clean your bathroom doesn’t make you want to switch to natural, non-toxic cleaners, check out a few statistics:
- Some cleaning ingredients, such as paradichlorobenzenes used in toilet fresheners and room deodorizers and formaldehyde used in disinfectants and furniture polishes, are possibly cancer-causing. Others, containing petroleum-based surfactants called alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), don’t biodegrade as easily as other surfactants and can disrupt hormone functions in animals and possibly humans. Dickey has found APEs in 477 products, and discovered that supermarket or drug store brand laundry detergents are more likely to contain APEs than brand names. In laboratory tests, three out of four non-chlorine disinfectants, as well as some “environmentally-friendly” cleaners, contained APEs. www.checnet.org
- Chemicals from different cleaning products can also react with each other to produce toxic effects. For example, mixing ammonia with chlorine bleach produces chloramine gas, which can penetrate deep into and damage lungs. Combining bleach with acid (in toilet bowl and other cleaners) forms toxic chlorine gas, which can also damage airways and irritate eyes. www.checnet.org
- Despite all this, manufacturers of cleaners are not required to list the ingredients and their concentrations on labels, even if hazardous, unless the product is a disinfectant. While some companies print warnings on bottles, these often do not express the full range of a product’s toxicity. So-called “inactive” or “inert” ingredients are not necessarily benign. www.checnet.org
Still not convinced? Check out the list of common household products that the EPA considers to be Hazardous waste.
And then look at how easy (and cheap!) it is to make your own cleaners:
- All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.
- Bathroom mold: Mold in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.
- Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle.
- CREAMY SOFT SCRUBBER: Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit. Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.
I think you’ll find these work just as well as the commercial, chemical-laden products. If you don’t want to spend the time making your own, there are plenty of toxic-free products out there. Just be sure to read the labels.