Let’s talk about using essential oils an an alternative to the dangerous cleaning products we use in our homes. Good for the environment and cheap to make! Thanks to Paisley Hansen for the post and thanks to Hilary Fleming of HealthGirlTV for the helpful advice video below. –aa
Egads! The irony of household cleaning products is that we purchase and use them to clean, but we’re also creating toxic environments within our homes. Many consumers are unaware that the lemon fresh scent or mountain rain aromas that fill their homes are actually the traces of sometimes toxic levels of chemicals lurking in the air. Cleaning products have been responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers. Of these exposures, nearly half involved children under age six.
The Risks of Household Cleaning Products.
Consider that most of these products warn consumers to “Keep out of reach of children.” Direct ingestion is not the only means by which children are exposed to these toxins. Young children crawl on freshly cleaned floors, put fingers and other items in their mouths and eat food off of tables and highchair trays which have been wiped down with antiseptics.
Additionally, many of these products contain chemicals which are bio-accumulative This means that they are not easily purged from the body, and so even small amounts of exposure can add up to toxic levels over time. This is an especial concern as cleaning products are to be used regularly to be effective.
Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used in cleaning products are not listed as ingredients. Because these hazardous substances are used to create fragrances, they are considered trade secrets and are protected by patent laws from being listed on the packaging.
The dangers of these unlisted ingredients include cancer-causing carcinogens, and can cause problems with reproductive systems, fertility, growth and behavior from endocrine disruptors and headaches or loss of intellect due to neurotoxins.
Other immediate issues include skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes or chemical burns.
Avoiding Toxic Cleaning Products
Consumers can take cues from product labels even though the specific ingredients aren’t usually listed. Watch for signal words such as Poison, Danger, Warning, or Caution. Products labeled “Danger” or “Poison” are typically most hazardous, while those bearing the word “Warning” are moderately hazardous, and products marked “Caution” are slightly toxic. It’s best to select products that do not have any cautionary labels.
It is further recommended that consumers avoid products with fragrances. A clean house should not have any smell at all. You can also look for cleaning products with the “Green Seal.” This signifies that a solution is effective at cleaning yet shown to be safer for human health and the environment.
Another great alternative is to make your own cleaning products with household staples such as baking soda, vinegar, salt, soap, water and oil. Because these solutions can smell either bland or too strong (from the vinegar), essential oils are a key ingredient. Essential oils are not only great smelling, but they are also antimicrobial and antibacterial. They can disinfect, purify and even remove stains.
Here are the specific properties of various essential oils used for cleaning.
- Lemon essential oil has the fresh scent of lemon without the chemicals of commercial lemon scented products. It can brighten and remove stains. Use it on tile floors or in your laundry.
- Peppermint essential oil has antibacterial properties and acts as a natural pest control. Use it in homemade spray cleaners for your kitchen and bathroom. The peppermint aroma can also help clear nasal congestion.
- Tea tree essential oil works well on household mildew and mold. It has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It can be added to water to make a spray cleaner for the bath and shower.
- Other essential oils that are useful for fragrant cleaning include lavender, rosewood, palma rose and orange oil.
Be sure to buy pure essential oils that are sold in dark, glass containers. Plastic vials or containers with rubber liquid droppers may be contaminated.
The internet is a great resource to find other homemade cleaning solution recipes. With a little research and a small investment in your favorite essential oils, you can be creating effective and safe cleaning products. A little extra knowledge and effort will go a long way in protecting you, your family and the environment.
Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health and beauty. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book.
Photo Source: André Karwath aka Aka, Wikimedia Commons.
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