We all enjoy the feeling of a newly cleaned house, everything brimming and squeaky clean. Most people connect the feeling of having a clean house with feelings of having a healthy and safe house. We keep the floors clean for babies that are crawling around, we clean the countertops to remove germs and bacteria and we clean the tub so that as we bath or shower, no dirt, grime or grease can keep us from getting fresh and clean. However, what if the very products we are using to keep us safe from dirt and bacteria are causing more problems than they are actually cleaning? It’s pretty ironic to think that the very substances that are supposed to improve our quality of life may actually be deterring from it. However, when we look at the ingredients in many common household products, the list of harmful and often toxic constituents can be scary.
Store shelves are lined with products that promote easy clean up and television advertisements encourage every home owner to use antibacterial cleaners. However, have you ever looked at the cautionary labels on these substances or read the ingredients? Given that we are spraying these chemicals all over surfaces where our children eat, bath and play, shouldn’t we be taking a second look at what we are introducing to our house?
Many of the chemicals found in everyday household cleaners are bioaccumulative, meaning that these chemicals do not purge easily from the body and over time, even small amounts of exposure can lead toxic level build ups in the body. They can be absorbed through the skin from bathtub surfaces, leach into food left on a countertop and residue fumes can be inhaled through the airways, especially when heat or steam are present.
Hazardous substances in household cleaners fall into three main categories:
- Carcinogens – cancer forming or cancer growth promoting substances
- Endocrine disruptors – these substances imitate hormone function in the body and confuse the body with false signals. Exposure can lead to numerous health issues including developmental, reproductive, growth and behavioural problems including infertility, miscarriage, ADHD, challenged immune systems and certain cancers.
- Neurotoxins – substances affecting neuron and brain activity, causing a range of problems including headaches, behaviour changes and more.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals used in consumer products, most of which have not been tested for long term affects on health. It is also cumbersome to find out what is in many of the common household cleaners that we use since manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients in household cleaners. The toxic levels they warn against on the bottles are also misleading since they are toxic warnings for a large adult. But, what about children, the elderly, pets and those with an already compromised immune system?
Caution is key. Our first line of defense is to educate ourselves about the pros and cons of harsh cleaning solutions. Yes they make our house smell lemony fresh, but at what cost? The truth is that a clean home should smell like nothing at all. Therefore, anything with perfumes and scents should be eliminated. Furthermore, when cleaning solutions claim to eradicate 99% of bacteria on cleaning surfaces, one has to wonder what becomes of the 1% that survives. This 1% that remains becomes the super germ, mutating and breading stronger organisms less and less resistant to cleaning agents and even antibiotics.
A report on the Center for Disease (CDC) website stated that “no evidence suggests that the use of antibacterial soap containing 0.2% triclosan (active ingredient in antibacterial cleaning products) provides a benefit over plain soap in reducing bacterial counts and rate of infectious symptoms.” In other words, good old fashioned soap and water remain or supersede effectiveness in germ control.
Some other homemade, natural and effective cleaning solvents that I recommend are solutions made from vinegar, lemon juice and/or baking soda. Check out some natural cleaning solutions in your natural health food store, such as natural orange cleaner or another variety. They are not only better for our environment and immune systems, but don’t leave a harmful chemical residue behind that can be detrimental to the health of our family.
So the next time you reach for an antibacterial cleaning product on the supermarket shelf, keep in mind that it is best used in a hospital or clinic, not in the homes of healthy people. If you want to keep your family healthy, keep their immune systems strong through good nutrition, Homeopathy and good sleep habits. Let their immune system work to fight off any bacteria naturally, it won’t let you down and will only strengthen its wonderful capability.