An essential harmony occurs when everything coexists just as nature intended. Understanding this balance and connectedness is something that eastern cultures have, but here in the west, our approach is generally more one-sided– focused on wiping out the bad and also much the good. When it comes to cleanliness, this is especially true.
Cleansing our environment and our bodies, is often viewed as an all out war aimed at vanquishing every last germ that crosses our paths. The creation of all the powerful antimicrobial cleaning products was feuled by this way of thinking, the shelves almost everywhere we shop are full of these products.
Using them may sound like a good plan at first thought– after all, don’t we want to get rid of germs that could make us unwell?
Before you reach for that bottle of industrial strength cleaner, though, explore what science has to say about this question, and how failing to respect nature’s balance always comes at a cost.
Chemical Cleaning Products and Your Lungs
Most of us have a positive association with the aroma of everyday household cleaning products, especially if this is how our parents cleaned. But the frightening truth is that breathing in these chemicals year after year might make it a lot more difficult to breathe altogether.
Scientists in Norway recently released a groundbreaking 20-year study of more than 6,000 participants that revealed a clear link between toxic cleaning product use and the risk of developing lung troubles. The more often women cleaned, researchers discovered, the more serious effects to their lungs. Women who worked as professional cleaners suffered the most, incurring as much lung damage as would be expected in someone smoking 20 cigarettes every day.1.
Increased decline in both these major areas of lung function has been associated with strong cleaning product exposure.
FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second): This is the amount of air a person can forcibly breath out in a single second.
FVC (forced vital capacity): This is the measure of how much air a person can forcibly exhale given as much time as they need to do so.
Researchers believe that the cause of this decline is likely due to cleaning chemicals irritating mucus membranes in the airways, which with repeated long-term exposure resulted in permanant negative changes to the airways themselves.
Unfortunately, toxic cleaning products aren’t just tough on your respiratory function– they can absolutely decimate your (and your home’s) microbiome.
Antimicrobials and Your Microbiome.
Many of the strong chemical ingredients in today’s cleaning products were put there specifically for their antimicrobial properties.
The trouble with this strategy is that these chemicals aren’t selective– they kill probiotic organisms along with the types of bacteria we don’t want around.
Some of these ingredients, such as parabens, ammonia, chlorine bleach, QUATS, Triclosan, and triclocarban, are absorbed through the skin in varying degrees– and once inside your body, they may upset your delicate microbial balance.
Triclosan and triclocarban turn up in human blood, mucus, and even breast milk– and they’re so prevalent that it’s estimated the odds are about 40% that they are in your body, too.The fact that these dangerous ingredients get into breast milk is particularly disturbing: one study found that the gut microbiomes of both nursing moms and babies were affected by Triclosan exposure, driving home how important it is to protect our guts by being mindful not only of what goes into our mouths, but also what we interact with in our environment.
Toxic cleaning chemicals can also easily find their way into soil, water, and air, and animal studies highlight the damaging potential for our planet’s wildlife.
In addition to specific negative changes in the gut that may be triggered by exposure to certain antimicrobials, it’s also important to consider the “hygiene hypothesis” and its implications for our overall health.
Originally, The Hygiene Hypothesis was introduced in the late 1800s and gaining increasing respect in recent years, this theory presents evidence that we all need exposure to lots of different types of microbes in our environment in order to stimulate our developing immune systems as babies and children.
Cleaning the home too fastidiously with antimicrobials leaves young immune systems with nothing to practice on, which over time can create vulnerability to troublesome microbial invaders– as well as sensitivity to foods or plants when an inexperienced immune system can’t tell if it’s being exposed to a friend or foe.
Super Cleaners and Superbugs.
Many of the strong chemical ingredients in today’s cleaning products were put there specifically for their antimicrobial properties. Since the root of physical and mental wellness lies in a balanced gut, it’s troubling enough that antimicrobial cleaning products can wreak havoc with microbial health
Since the root of physical and mental wellness lies in a balanced gut, it’s troubling enough that antimicrobial cleaning products can wreak havoc with microbial health. That’s because, as effective as they are, when you use these cleaners, you aren’t actually killing every single living organism.
In a balanced environment (internal or out in the world), friendly flora crowd out the bulk of microbial troublemakers, and the percentage of resistant undesirable microbes is too minute to do much harm.
But when antimicrobials come on the scene, resistant bacteria gain a real advantage. As their neighbors die off, these “superbugs” that are especially difficult to kill have room to reproduce– and when their numbers grow large enough to impact your health, existing medications may prove completely ineffective.6.
Steer Clear of Toxic Chemicals.
Cleaning product labels can be misleading, and many cleansers labeled “natural” or “gentle” are anything but.
To protect yourself, your family, and our precious planet, here are a few of the most commonly used harmful ingredients to avoid:
#2-Butoxyethanol: A common ingredient in kitchen, window, and multipurpose cleaners that can interfere with the health of your red blood cells.
#Ammonia: Found in glass and bathroom cleaners, ammonia can be very irritating to the eyes, skin, throat, and lungs.
#Chlorine Bleach: A potent antimicrobial and respiratory irritant, bleach is a major ingredient in mildew removers, toilet bowl cleaners, and scouring powders. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia can create highly toxic chlorine gas, so consider using hydrogen peroxide as a safer bleach alternative.
#Sodium Hydroxide: A known mucous membrane irritant, this is used in many oven cleaners and drain openers.
#Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): SLS is a detergent that creates the rich type of lather we’ve become accustomed to in cleansers, and is present in most shampoos and hand soaps. This ingredient can be very irritating to eyes, mouth, and skin.7,8.
#Fragrance: Although the term “fragrance” sounds innocent enough, it can refer to any one of thousands of chemicals linked to skin, kidney, respiratory, and cellular issues.9.
#Parabens: These antimicrobial, chemical preservatives are associated with negative effects in breasts, hormones, and reproductive areas.10,11.
#Phthalates: Commonly found in a host of cleansing products including dish soaps, detergents, and shampoo, phthalates have been shown to negatively impact respiratory health and reproductive function, as well as cause DNA damage.12,13,14,15.
#Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATS): Found in antibacterial household cleaners, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets. At least two studies identify QUATS as the cause of respiratory issues in cleaning workers.16,17.
#Triclosan: This antimicrobial agent has been used in a wide range of products including dish liquid, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and even mops. In addition to impacting microbial balance and infiltrating living tissue, Triclosan can also lead to increased sensitivity to the environment as well as harmful cellular and endocrine changes.18,19,20
Thankfully, the FDA recently banned the use of Triclosan (and its close relative triclocarban) in hand and body soaps, but you’ll still need to be on the lookout for these toxic ingredients in other products. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Don’t let the word “organic” fool you! Inhaling these gases, which are frequently used in products including household cleaners, disinfectants, and air fresheners, can cause eye, liver, nervous system, respiratory tract, and skin troubles– as well as GI discomfort and challenges with equilibrium.21.
Our cleaning choices may feel inconsequential, but making the decision to use only natural cleaning products truly makes a difference on both a worldwide and personal scale.
There’s a Better Way to Clean.
Good news! Despite what advertisements may be telling you, you don’t have to rely on toxic products to keep your home and body clean. Turn to nature instead, starting with a basic liquid Castile soap that, when mixed with plain water, works effectively as a hand soap, shampoo, and dishwashing liquid. Combined with other natural ingredients such as baking soda, sea salt, essential oils, or vinegar, you can also make your own very safe laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, and even glass cleaner.
Even though toxic chemicals are still widely used, removing them from your home will drastically reduce your personal exposure, as well as your family’s– and it also makes a very real dent in the toxic load our planet bears. And once you commit to approaching cleanliness in a way that respects the balance of nature, you’ll be able to breathe a whole lot easier.
If the DIY approach feels overwhelming, you can still find prepared household products such as the ones I have recommended that are found in my store page. Threes products use only certified natural ingredients that work in harmony with the microbial environment to clean your home safely, without over-sanitizing.
The Holistic Cleaner- diy
Fortunately there are safe alternatives to toxic chemical laden products, and tuple make them with your own pantry.
Most household cleaning needs can be met eagerly and inexpensively with sturdy stubbing brushes, cleaning cloths and sponges and simple ingredients found everywhere.
Most recipes for diy cleaning products contain the following ingrediants.
Diy cleaning kit should contain.
Liquid Castille Saop. – a general cleaner used on dishes cloths,floors, benches and most other surfaces. Made from saponified vegetable oils.
White vinegar.- vinegar is powerful. It cuts through grease and kills mould in bathroom including on ceramic tiles it’s an effective glass cleaner is used as an antimicrobial.
Lemon.- a fresh scented ingredient that disinfect cuts through Grease can be used in sinks and with brushes to scrub.
Bicarb.- bicarb usually used in combination with lemon of vinegar to be made into a paste for scrubbing grease and Grime such as the bathtub oven. Also used as a freshener in the fridge and controls odor.
Essential Oils. – oils like eucalyptus and tea tree and naturally antimicrobial and can be used to disinfect and deodorize. In my store you’ll find essential oil kits with the most popular oils for cleansing and freshening your home.
Vanilla Extract.- can be used with diluted in distilled water with castile soap for cleaning. Can be rubbed into fridge for refreshing deodoriser.
Washing soda.-high alkalinity so be cautious war gloves. Used to unblock drains and add an ingredient in washing detergents, it softens the water. Use in small quantities.
Metholated Spirits.- or pure alcohol, used to dilute essential oils, clean windows and shiny surfaces, and as an antimicrobial, anti-bacterial.
Natural brushes, nutaral fibre cleaning cloths, steel wool, eco scorers, sponges, glass jars and spray bottles. Along with buckets, brooms and mops, all the products needed for DIY cleaning can be found on my store page.
For diy cleaning recipes and household hints, follow my blog for posts, and find what you need to make them in my store page, naturalsafesupplies.com that will be up soon.