Household Toxins Affecting the Health of Our Family

No matter where we go in the world, we are surrounded by chemicals and toxins in some form. They are everywhere and even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns us about them.

But how can we protect our family from the hundreds of chemicals that are so hard to avoid?

Harmful Effects of Everyday Toxins

When our body becomes over-saturated in toxins, it does not operate efficiently and begins to cause unnatural side effects that are often overlooked.

Toxic metal and chemical residues accumulate in the fat cells like our liver, kidneys, brain, and even in our glands that regulate biochemical reactions throughout the body.

The skin is the first part of the body to come into contact with most toxins and actually absorbs them and circulates them through the body.

And think about little people, touching sprayed chemical surfaces.  Not only are the chemicals absorbed through the skin on their hands, their hands also often go straight in their mouth.

Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of products that are unhealthy for both our body and the environment, and they are making the switch to natural products that do the same thing, and in many cases, do it better, as their chemical-laden counterpart.

How Manufacturers Hide Harmful Ingredients

Ingredient labels are mandatory for food and cosmetics, however not for cleaning products. Since manufacturers aren’t legally required to disclose all ingredients in their cleaners, many don’t, including some “green” manufacturers.

It’s best to check for warnings (and ingredients if listed), not marketing claims.  

Look to avoid products containing:
Ammonia, 2-butoxyethanol, Chlorine bleach, Ethanolamines, “Active ingredients” such as ADBAC, benzalkonium chloride, ingredients with names including “-monium chloride” or triclosan.

How can we avoid toxins?

The good news is that we can most certainly minimize our exposure to these dangerous substances and it doesn’t need to be daunting.  

Natural ingredients in our pantry

For those who like the idea of making your own cleaning products, here are some natural alternatives you will likely have in your cupboard that can be turned into your own DIY products:

Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
Soap – unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
Lemon – one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odours, some stains and wax build-up.
Washing Soda – or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminium.
Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.

DIY and Simple Recipes

Antibacterial Cleaners – products labelled as “antibacterial” are cleaners contain pesticides and aren’t needed for household cleaning.

Instead – you can mix ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda into ½ gallon (2 liters) water.  Store in a spray bottle and use when needed.

Oven Cleaners – skip caustic oven cleaners that can damage skin, eyes and lungs.

Instead – sprinkle baking soda on stains, moisten with a little water, and let stand overnight.  Then wipe and rinse.

Air Fresheners – they contain undisclosed and often untested chemicals.

Instead – use essential oils.  You can either make up a spray with water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, or use a diffuser.

Drain Cleaners – they contain extremely toxic chemicals.

Instead – make a fizzy drain clearer with ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup baking soda.

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets coat fabric with asthma-causing “quat” and secret “fragrance” chemicals.

Instead – add vinegar to the rinse cycle to prevent static cling, soften, brighten and reduce strong odors.

Microfiber Cloths – the way of the future for cleaning

We need to recognize the simplicity and power of the microfiber cloth for highly effective cleaning, using just water. 

Microfiber lifts off dirt, grease and dust without the need for any cleaning chemicals. 

Unlike chemicals that kill bacteria, microfiber cloths “remove” the bacteria. 

We then wash the cloth to remove the bacteria and use again and again.

They are formulated to penetrate and trap dirt and a good quality cloth can last for several years.  

More and more people are now using microfiber cloths to clean their homes both inside and out.  Not only can us save money on cleaning products, it saves storage space and time as well.