We’ve chatted about choosing the safest food in Are you having pesticide for dinner?. We’ve chatted about choosing the safest health and beauty products in Would You Put That Toothpaste On Your Lungs?. And now the time has come to have a little chat about our household cleaning products.
Many of us grew up cleaning with products like bleach and ammonia, and we thought toxic fumes were just a part of cleaning. You could tell if a house was clean because it had that “fresh, clean scent”. Now we know better, that “fresh, clean scent” spells toxic. We don’t need toxic cleaners to keep our homes clean and germ-free, but these days there are so many products, with so many different messages on the labels that it can have our heads spinning.
What works? What doesn’t? What’s toxic? What’s not? What’s good? What’s bad? What should we be looking for? Can we trust the labels?
Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created another database, called the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to make all of this a little easier for us. Now we can check our household cleaning supplies against the list and see how safe (or dangerous) they really are. And if we’re using something that isn’t rated very well we can quickly find a safe alternative.
But sometimes there are no alternatives. Sometimes we have to choose between “clean” and our health. A couple of years ago I learned that toilet cleaner and fabric softener are two of the most toxic products we use in our homes. I know, toilet cleaner doesn’t seem all that surprising, but fabric softener? Fabric softener is worse. Fabric softener is one of the most toxic items we use in our homes, it’s loaded with chemicals and carcinogens. And what’s worse, is we put it on our skin, our most vulnerable and most exposed organ in our body. We use it on our sheets, our towels and our poor bodies just can’t escape it. And that “sweet, fresh smell”? It’s not so sweet. If you change nothing else in your home, please stop using fabric softener! If you don’t believe me or want more specific info, please read this answer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the EWG site.
So please, for your health and the health of those in your life, especially children, go over to the Healthy Cleaning Guide and check out the products you are using. You just might be surprised what you find. I was.