While no one would ever call me neat or organized, I do ever so love the feeling of cleanliness. I shower sometimes twice a day, I can’t stand a sticky floor, and I was desperately in love with Clorox wipes. Stacy tried long and hard to get me off them, but it wasn’t until we really researched safer swaps that I switched. We hope this post will help you make easy safer, cleaner sources for your household products! – Matt
NOTE: scroll to the if you want to enter the giveaway & get the discount coupons ♥
When it comes to replacing products you’ve grown up using and loving, the struggle is real. For years I felt overwhelmed with where to even begin with safer cleaning products for the home. Questions like, “Will it actually clean?”, “How much more expensive is it?”, “Can I get my cleaning lady to use it?” prevented me from even trying. Not to mention the immediate shame and guilt I felt for not making my own with vinegar and citrus.
Household cleaning products can be full of carcinogenic and other toxins – of over 85,000 chemicals in existence, only 200 have been tested by the EPA. So let’s get REAL:
Do not let perfection be the enemy of the good.
The goal of today is to give you some ideas to simply get started. To make informed buying choices. The products we use and recommend come from a variety of sources, but even your local Target will supply you with much better options than the standard cleaning products that are known to be contributing to health problems. Don’t feel like you need to do everything all at once. Simply learn the ingredients to watch out for and buy a cleaning product the same way you’d buy your food or personal care – read the label!
A great source to help you get started is the free EWG app. Simply scan the label of products you use and see their risk levels – then you can prioritize which products to swap!
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
From respiratory issues to carcinogens and reproductive or developmental issues, the following ingredients have been linked to concerns:
- Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride
- Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride
- Borax and boric acid
- Didecyldimethylammonium Chloride
- Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (DEGME)
- Dioctyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride
- Distearyldimonium Chloride
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Monoethanolamine Citrate
- Quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats,” such as benzalkonium chloride (Quaternium-15 and Quaternium-24)
- Bleach and ammonia (sodium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite, and ammonium hydroxide)
- Sulfuric Acid
- volatile organic compounds, or VOCs – include pine- and citrus-based cleaners contain a class of volatile chemicals known as terpenes which combine with ozone to form formaldehyde
** this is the one I so commonly see in products marked as “natural” or cleaner ingredients – it’s also where brands hide ingredients under the “fragrance loophole”
SOURCES & STUDIES
The first time this occurred to me as a major problem was when I read this article about how the toxins in laundry detergent are so powerful that neighbors experience measurable toxicity from dryer vent steam. What?! So not only do I need to be using safer products, but my neighbors do, too? Here are some resources to share with your block in the hopes of cleaning the streets up [wow, those puns were on fire]
Findings, published online this week in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, show that air vented from machines using the top-selling scented liquid laundry detergent and scented dryer sheet contains hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens. “This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs… Analysis of the captured gases found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, coming out of the vents. Of those, two chemicals – acetaldehyde and benzene – are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level. “These products can affect not only personal health, but also public and environmental health. The chemicals can go into the air, down the drain and into water bodies,” Steinemann said. [source]
Cleaning supplies and household cleaning products on American Lung Association:
VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches. Studies are underway to assess how these chemicals affect people who have asthma and other respiratory illnesses.1 However, past studies link exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses.2,3 [sources]
From Experience Life Magazine:
7 SAFER SWAPS
Convinced you want to change but not sure where to start? These simple changes are so easy to make, and answer questions like “Will it actually clean?” YES!, “How much more expensive is it?” NOT MUCH!, and “Can I get my cleaning lady to use it?” YES, they work the same way!
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Dish Liquid – You’re soaking your hands in dish soap, so don’t you want it to be free of toxins and harsh detergents? This brand cleans just as well as conventional and your dishes won’t have residue from more toxic soaps!
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes – I hate sticky and I hate bacteria, I thought someone would have to pry my Clorox wipes from my cold dead hands. But, Seventh Generation has all the bacteria killing power of Clorox, in a totally botanically based formula.
Branch Basics All-Purpose Cleaner – With 3 boys, our countertops get messy and need to be cleaned all. the. time. We were really impressed with the plant based Branch Basics the first time we mixed up a batch.
Beautycounter Hand Wash – Beautycounter specializes in clean ingredients and testing products to ensure ingredients will never harm your health. We have this hand wash in all of our bathrooms now!
Branch Basics Laundry Detergent – The neat thing about Branch Basics is that you will receive two bases – which combine in a variety of measurements and containers to be laundry detergent, soap, all-purpose cleaner and lots more! Cleaner ingredients are even more important in laundry detergent, where many people experience skin irritation – not to mention the toxic emissions from your laundry vent!
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs – We love loading our dishwasher with pods for the convenience. Is it environmentally the best? No, but remember – we’re not letting perfection be the enemy of the good. We love how simple this is for when the boys do the dishes!
Norwex Carpet Stain Cleaner – With three kids and four pets, we seem to always need to clean carpet stains in our house. Finding a clean alternative to spot treating the floors was the last item on our to-swap list. Finding the Norwex Carpet Stain Cleaner + scrubby corner cloth has been a big help! We also love their microfiber wipes for cleaning surfaces around the house, and Stacy uses one daily to remove her make-up. If you’re looking to see what works for you, the Microfiber Variety Set is what got us started!
If you want to DIY some of your own, more power to you! There are lots of recipes online you can find with a simple google. However, similar to how I want my personal care products to feel luxurious, smell nice, be high performance, and make me feel clean – I want the same in a household cleaning product.
EASY ENTRY GIVEAWAY
Want to try these products out yourself? Simply comment below to be entered to win a Norwex Carpet Stain Cleaner and a Microfiber Variety Pack ($50 value). Please sign in or include your e-mail to enter. We will add all entrants to our Non-Toxic Living e-mail list and announce the winner there on 12/17/18.
That’s it! May the odds be ever in your favor! US & Canada entries only. We’ll pick one random lucky winner from the comments. No purchase necessary. May the odds be ever in your favor!