I’ve spent the last year focusing on improving our health and wellness and a huge part of that effort was learning how to eat. I’ve talked with doctors, nutritionists, chiropractors, and chefs. I’ve watched movies, read dozens of books and participated in pantry parties. I still have a lot to learn, but the resources available to me are endless. This is not the case in other areas where I’d like to make improvements.
I’ve known for a long time that our home could be healthier. We could use more natural, chemical-free cleaning products; improve our air quality by adding live plants and much more. Although I switched my traditional cleaning products like Lysol and Soft Scrub to more environmentally friendly products awhile back, my choices were based on the marketing on the labels and not really educated/informed decisions.
After reading that there is a 54% higher cancer rate in women that are stay at home moms, and that the numbers are partially attributed to the time we spend cleaning and sitting in our chemical filled homes I decided to move this up on the priority list of things to change.
Environmental Protection Agency studies have shown that indoor air pollution can be 3 to 7 times higher than outdoors. The EPA conducted a study that found that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air pollution. Studies found that this is significant for stay-at-home and work-from-home moms who are more likely to clean their own house and spend more time indoors.
As I look for new options to keep our house clean (and by clean I mean dirt free AND chemical free) here is what I’ve come up with. We basically have three options.
- Make our own cleaning products – This is probably the safest and most affordable option for most of our cleaning needs. At least, for most of my cleaning needs. You can find tons of recipes for specific cleaning products and tough jobs online. Martha Stewart is one of my favorite resources. Here are two that work for most day to day cleaning.
- Simple all-purpose cleaner – fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water and shake. Acetic acid kills viruses, germs, mold bacteria. Good for countertops, sinks, toilets and tubs.
- For tough stains or stuck on food (think messy stovetop) trying baking soda and a damp sponge or cloth. It acts as a scouring powder.
- Tree tea oil (tough on mold), lemons and hydrogen peroxide are also great additions to any green cleaning arsenal.
- Online Companies – You can purchase non-toxic, earth friendly products online from companies like Melaluca, Shaklee and BioKleen. They’ve been around for 20 or more years and seem to offer safe and effective products. I’ve tried several products from each company and have been happy with all of them. I don’t have a loyalty to one yet, so I’d love to hear about your experiences. If your cost conscious, the websites offer price comparisons to traditional products like Tide, Clorox and Cascade.
- Store Bought – You can find safer, less-toxic and more earth-friendly options at most stores. Some are better than others, but most are a significant improvement over what I was using. Right now, I really like Seventh Generation when I have to buy from the store. I’ve also find products from Method and Mrs. Meyers that are pretty good.
Just like food, not all products are created equal and not every family’s needs are the same. In my experience, sorting through cleaning products is significantly more challenging than sorting through food. There aren’t clear cut rules like buy fresh, whole foods or shop the outside aisles. I’m not a chemist so reading the labels still presents a problem. Right now, I’m really enjoying the vinegar/water all purpose cleaner. But if I’m being realistic, I don’t have time to make all of my own cleaning products so I’m going to have to settle on a pre-made product I can live with. The verdict is still up in the air, but Melaluca has my attention.