Remember Monica Geller - the beloved character from popular sitcom FRIENDS - who would go to great lengths to keep her house squeaky clean?
You’d often see her with gloves and some household cleaning product, diligently scrubbing every nook and cranny of her home. While most of us don’t have her level of obsession with cleanliness, we often turn to chemical-based cleaning solutions that claim to make household cleaning more comfortable.
What these products don’t advertise are the harmful ingredients that go into making them. According to environmental experts, the average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals, and we are exposed to them routinely. Ingredients in everyday household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity.
So how can you avoid putting your health at risk? A simple way to do it is by reading the labels before you buy and swap them for healthier, safer options.
Watch out for these ingredients:
You are not likely to find the word phthalates on the label of common household products such as air fresheners, dish soaps or cleaning agents. However, if you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there is a good chance that phthalates are present. These are known to be endocrine disruptors and can lead to various health issues. Exposure to phthalates mainly occurs through inhalation, but it can also happen through skin contact with scented soaps. Unlike the digestive system, your skin has no safeguards against toxins and the absorbed chemicals go straight to your organs. So as far as possible, choose fragrance-free or all-natural fragrance, organic products.
The next time you reach for liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labelled “antibacterial”, be aware that you may expose yourself to triclosan. This is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Studies have found that overusing these antibacterial chemicals not only lead to microbe resistance, but dangerous concentrations of triclosan in rivers and streams can also be toxic to algae. Take the matter into your hands and look for options that encourage pure living.
This is possibly the most common chemical you’ll find in your household cleaning products. It is found in toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, and sometimes even in household tap waters! The health risks from chlorine can be acute and chronic. You get exposed to chlorine through fumes and also through the skin when you clean with chlorine-based products. Make sure you use safe bleach alternatives for cleaning and reduce your exposure to this chemical.
If you feel satisfied with the rich lather you see in your household products, you might be interested to know how it is formed. SLS/SLES is a detergent that creates that foamy lather we’ve become accustomed to in cleaners and is present in most shampoos and hand soaps. This can be irritating to the eyes, mouth and skin. So now you know that the lather not only cleans up your home but can have damaging effects on your health too!
Parabens are yet another form of chemicals found commonly in several household and personal care products. These antimicrobial, chemical preservatives are associated with adverse effects in breasts, hormones, and reproductive areas. If you genuinely care for your health, check the labels of the products you’re buying and choose the ones that are parabens-free.
Cleaning is essential to protecting our health in our homes and workplaces. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on toxic products to keep your home and body clean. You have several natural, clean, and green ingredients that are both healthy and planet-friendly. It’s time you own up, act and make the change for a healthier, happier life.
Do you use any natural ingredients to clean your home? Tell us about them.