Clean is clean, right?
When we clean our bedroom or the kitchen, the point is to leave it better than how we found it. When I clean the kitchen, for example, I’ll wash the dirty dishes, scrub the range, vacuum the floor, and wipe down the counter and the handles of the fridge and drawers. It feels so much nicer and healthier - I feel that I can breathe better when my kitchen is clean.
So what’s the problem?
The Dirt on Clean
We talked a lot about this in our last blog post (click here to check it out!), but in the US, there is very little oversight on what companies put in the products we use in our homes, and this includes cleaning supplies.
Many of the cleaning supplies you probably have in your house right now - including cleaning and disinfecting sprays, floor cleaners, oven cleaners, carpet powders, air fresheners, dishwasher detergent, and more - contain volatile organic compounds, phthalates, and a host of other chemicals that have been connected with cancers, hormone disruption, reproductive issues, asthma, kidney and liver disease, skin issues, and much more.
These “dirty” cleaners add a lot of lingering pollutants to the inside of your home. They evaporate into the air, degrade into dust that we inhale, or linger on surfaces to be absorbed through the skin. In fact, they’re one of the big reasons behind the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air.
And here’s where things get really tricky: the makers of these cleaning supplies are not legally obligated to list all of the ingredients in their products! And they’re allowed to use misleading marketing terms - there are no regulations to stop companies from using the words “green”, “natural” and other tricky words on the packaging. So reading the back of the box or bottle oftentimes won’t help you discover if your cleaning supplies are hazardous or not.
With all of these hurdles, how can you possibly find healthy alternatives to your current harmful cleaning supplies?
Ways to Get REALLY Clean
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find safe alternatives to these hazardous cleaners.
The first way is to make your own!
There are so many resources out there for making your own cleaning supplies using safe ingredients, like here and here and here. But even with these, it’s best to do your own research. Some of these recipes call for Borax (an irritant that can lead to hormone issues, kidney failure, and more), dish soap (which can contain fragrances, phthalates, and other harmful ingredients we covered in our last post), and other ingredients that might be more harmful than helpful. Search around, try out a few recipes, and stick with the ones that work best for you!
“But what if I’m too busy to make homemade cleaners?”
If you don’t have the time or the interest to make your own, there are plenty of alternatives to the more hazardous cleaning solutions out there, usually found online or in specialty stores. One of the easiest ways to track down safe cleaners is the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. The EWG is a national nonprofit dedicated to investigating household products, commercial chemicals, agricultural pesticides and herbicides, and more, giving the public the guidance to avoid the more harmful materials out there.
Their Guide to Healthy Cleaning gives you access to their “Verified” list (products that they deem the cleanest on the market), but you can also search their database for different kinds of cleaners and see how they measure up. For example, when you look up the original Pine-Sol listing on the database, you’ll find an overall score (in this case, a D), and a breakdown of the known ingredients with their individual scores and a list of their dangers. So, if you’re wondering if a cleaner you’re using or you find at the store is harmful, just look it up through the EWG - a quick and easy way to clean up your cleaning supplies.
Your Tips and Tricks
Here’s one of my favorite homemade cleaners - a daily shower spray. I’ve been using it for years, and it does a good job of preventing soap scum buildup in my shower!
Daily Shower Spray
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup distilled water
2 drops essential oil of your choice (I like grapefruit and lemongrass)
Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. Spray down your shower or tub after each use - no rinsing required.
Do you have any homemade cleaner recipes you’d like to share with the Illuminate Wellness community? Comment below to reveal your favorites!