An everyday item that we all use in one way or another – home cleaning stuffs.
Whether washing dishes, wiping benches, cleaning hands, we generally have assistance from an outside agent.
But have you ever thought about what goes into them?
Of course, you have. You know they are pretty powerful, but probably not great for our skin, our lungs, and for the parents out there – our kidlets. But your place of solace should smell delightful like a day spa, not like Walter White’s Winnebago, right?
Heavy metal toxicity might sound like an album title, but it’s actually pretty serious stuff.
Some people can be quite badly affected by not just household cleaning products, but by perfumes, cosmetics in general and so on.
Here are some common ingredients found in your everyday home cleaning products, and the nastiness they can cause:
Causes irritation to eyes and mucous membranes. Breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest pains, pulmonary oedema, skin burns. High exposure can lead to blindness, lung damage, heart attack or death.
Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite)
When bleach is mixed with acids (typical in toilet bowl cleaners), it reacts with them to form chlorine gas. When it is mixed with ammonia, it can create chloramine gas, another toxic substance.
In the environment, sodium hypochlorite is acutely toxic to fish. The chlorine in bleach can also bind with organic material in the marine environment to form organochlorines, toxic compounds that can persist in the environment.
There may be some circumstances where bleach use is necessary for disease control, but there is very little need for it on a regular basis. There are a number of oxygen-based alternatives for household requirements of bleach.
2-butoxyethanol/ Ethylene glycol butyl ether
Commonly used as a solvent in carpet cleaners and speciality cleaners. Can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may cause blood disorders, as well as liver and kidney damage. May also cause reproductive damage with long-term exposure.
Methylene chloride is listed as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and is commonly found in paint strippers. In 1987, regulators in the U.S. compelled manufacturers to put warning labels on products containing methylene chloride.
Either naphthalene or another chemical called paradichlorobenzene is used in mothballs and moth crystals. A possible human carcinogen. Avoid all products that contain either of these two ingredients.
Manufacturers have reduced or even eliminated phosphates from laundry products, but no action has ever been taken on dishwasher detergents. Most of the products available from major manufacturers contain 30-40 percent phosphates. Some also contain high levels of chlorine-based sanitising ingredients.
Toluene is a potent reproductive toxin, which is used as a solvent in numerous products, including paints. It is also sold as the pure product and is listed by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a reproductive toxin that may cause harm to the developing fetus. Pregnant women should avoid products containing toluene.
Another extremely toxic ingredient that is often found in graffiti and scuff removers, spray paints and some adhesives. A suspected reproductive toxin, it is also a neurotoxicant that can cause memory loss on repeated exposure.
You may now rethink that random grabby on your next stroll down the cleaning aisle now huh!
Prior to making the switch myself, I was getting cracked and painfully raw hands on the regular. The culprit? Our dishwashing liquid and all-purpose spray.
Luckily you can skip a similar fate and avoid as many of these nasty additives as possible because, as always, ABK has your back.
The following brands I absolutely LOVE and solely use now, are not just gentle AF, but are cruelty-free and vegan too.
Method are a brand born in California but are easily available here in Australia at Big W and Coles. If you aren’t near either store or yours doesn’t stocky, never fear. You can shop the whole range online – AND they have free shipping!
My ride-or-die Method bits are the Cucumber Multi-Purpose Spray, the Clementine Liquid Dish Soap, the Summer Sunset Hand Wash and the Eucalyptus Mint Glass and Surface Spray. They contain powerful plant-derived ingredients, making for far less harsh and nasty chemicals up in here.
This second brand that is just as fantastic and even more readily available, are Earth Choice by Natures Organics. 100% Australian made and owned, and dedicated to creating and producing sustainable product alternatives – have a looky for them in your local Coles or Woolworths!
Natures Organics are also the creators of the only laundry liquid I can use, Purity – anything else and myself AND my son both break out in itchy rashes!
Their surface spray is just as effective as Method’s, and their dish soap concentrate lasts forever. Earth Choice products also come in delicious natural scents like Green Tea & Lime, and Pomegranate – and there is also the Naturally Naked kind with zero fragrance for the ultra-sensitives among us.
And the final recommendation today is the ever-awesome Dr Bronners.
Consider making the switch to these cruelty-free and vegan home cleaning products – they contain minimal to no unsavoury ingredients, are super gentle on sensitive skin and most importantly, are kinder to the earth.
These guys are all forever stocked in the kitchen cabinet, and you should think about doing the same. All are affordable as, PLUS your house will smell gorgeously fruity fresh and no longer a chemical-drenched bleach pong den.
A final closing point today: beware of “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing isn’t just limited to home cleaning products. It is EVERYWHERE. It is all around us!
Greenwashing is when a company or organisation spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimise environmental impact.
Products in your supermarket can claim to be green, natural or biodegradable – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nontoxic. In 2010, the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice Group produced a report called “The Sins of Greenwashing.” In it, the group found more than 95 percent of so-called “green” consumer products had committed at least one “greenwashing sin,” like making an environmental claim that may be truthful but unimportant. “CFC-free,” for example, is a common one since CFCs are banned by law.
So try to read through the bullshit, but don’t get overwhelmed by it. Rarely is anyone 100% perfect.
Method Home products have been attacked as greenwashers in the past – but I still use and love them. Out of all the options we have, they – like Earth Choice and Dr Bronners – are among the cleanest and most ethical out there. They are the “better” choices, and THAT’S why I choose them.
If you want to go full noise green and lighten your impact EVEN more, you can totally make your own – Greatist has a fantastic article on this!
Next time you are in the supermarket aisle, consider making the switch to cruelty-free and vegan home cleaning products.
A little switch like this can cause big change.