Clean Homes, Clean Streams, Clean Conscience
Since WWII, thousands of chemicals have been introduced into our daily environment. Some of the most harmful that pose the greatest risk to our children are those inside our own homes. The good news is that more and more toxic-free products are coming into the consumer market and are becoming easier to find in stores and online. By learning more about harmful chemicals and choosing their safer alternatives, we can reduce the negative effects many commercial cleaning products have on our own lives and the environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one common household chemical that poisons 25,000 children each year is Dawn dishwashing liquid, because they think it looks like their favorite juice color.
“Green” doesn’t necessarily mean safe when it comes to cleaning products. Most waste disposal companies will not pick up cleaning bottles that are not entirely empty because they fear “chemical combustion” if those cleaners combine in their garage trucks. Similarly, we shouldn’t keep those products in our laundry rooms and kitchens where the cleaners are “outgassing” chemical particles into the air.
Debra Lynn Dadd writes in Home Safe Home, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 150 common household chemicals have been linked to allergies, asthma, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities.” A company’s product line should be proud to share its careful selection of ingredients and be proud to state that there were no accidental deaths from poisoning. We can all educate ourselves and eliminate toxic cleaners.
Plant-derived cleaners from a natural, not synthetic, source are a safe option. Choose biodegradable, environmentally responsible ingredients from reputable companies that have easily understood labels or purchase from local stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or health food stores.
Be sure to read the back of the bottles and find out where they are manufactured. For example, the Ecosense line (Melaleuca.com) is manufactured in the U.S. and regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. Choose products that state the ingredients on the bottles, as well as their absence, such as no chlorine bleach, no ammonia, no abrasives, no phosphates, no fillers, no phthalates, no triclosan, no parabens, no formaldeyhyde and most importantly, no childproof caps required.
Many pure essential oils are available in the market, and can be used and mixed to make very safe, effective cleaners. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) has natural antiseptic and antifungal properties that may kill bacteria, including e. coli, salmonella, strep, and the h1n1 flu virus.
Tea tree oil blends well with eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rosemary and thyme for household use. Add a few drops of lavender to the laundry wash or rinse cycle. Spray a mixture of melaleuca oil and thyme as a natural disinfectant or deodorizer. Add a few drops of lemon or orange oil to natural household cleaners for a nice citrus scent.
Doctors at Southwest Hospital, in Cape Coral, Florida, have launched an experiment using lavender and citrus oils as a more natural remedy for some of their patients.
It’s important to know that not all oils are the same, and some oils on the market may be diluted and could contain other ingredients. Look for 100 percent pure oil, extracted directly from the traceable botanical source, using controlled methods. We will see the scientific name under the name of the oil, for example: lavender (Lavendula officinalis), lemon (Citrus limonium). This means they are not synthetic. Choose pure essential oils that have been tested to meet stringent quality specifications and are harvested using sustainable and ethical practices.
Now is the time to purge our homes from all toxic chemical cleaners. We only need a few good-quality natural cleaners and a few pure essential oils to have a safe home with air we can breathe without a mask or gloves.