Love the way your house smells so clean and fresh after you’ve given it the once-over? Perhaps it’s that citrusy-pine fresh smell you enjoy? Well, as it happens, cleaning products are laden with chemicals to make our houses smell clean, when we should be thinking more along the lines of whether it actually is clean.
The Organic Consumers Association states that, “Fragrances added to many cleaners, most notably laundry detergents and fabric softeners, may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes in sensitive individuals or allergy and asthma sufferers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. But because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing ‘fragrance.’”
According to Healthcare without Harm, some of the worst offenders of toxic cleaning is found in our hospitals. Given that information, I’m not sure I even want to know what is being used to clean our children’s schools. Scary thought, isn’t it?
Why not take steps to change the potential impact now, rather than waiting for some study to come out confirming that the products we have been using in our homes and around our children and pets are toxic? Here are some easy ways to clean your home with less impact on your health and the environment:
– First, stop thinking that your home is only clean if it smells clean! If I lit a pine-scented candle in your home for several hours, and did nothing else, would your home be any cleaner? It certainly would not!
– The next time you clean your home with the products you have now, consider opening up some windows. The research stated that, “even though open windows bring in more ozone from outside, the reduction in the indoor limonene concentration and SOA formation strength more than make up for it, as less secondary organic aerosol is formed inside.”
– The next time you purchase cleaning supplies, get ones that are unscented! Remember that they will clean your home just as well. Better yet, go for cleaning supplies that are entirely chemical-free! Consider brands like Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s, Mrs. Myers Clean Day and other companies that are keeping our homes clean and our health as a priority. Look for products made with ingredients that you recognize, such as baking soda and vinegar.
– Another great tip from the Organic Consumers Association is to be cautious of unregulated “greenwash” claims on labels. Don’t take terms like “natural” and “eco-friendly” as truth unless you have read ingredient information which confirms those claims. Some companies that are hardly authentic in their intent are trying to jump on the “green” bandwagon as a sneaky way to gain consumers.
– And if you really do want that fresh odor in your house while cleaning, consider using the real deal. As for me, it will probably come as no surprise that I prefer to use essential oils for a naturally clean odor, but you could try other natural sources too! Here are some examples:
– Put a drop of lavender on your pillow cases after changing the linens.
– Put a couple drops of lemon balm in the garbage disposal or in the actual garbage to help reduce foul odors. I actually put several ice cubes in my garbage disposal, then a few drops of lemon balm.
– I got stains out of my carpet using lemon oil. The stain was removed with no chemicals and with the added bonus of a great scent!
– Rumor has it that lemon essential oil is great for removing crayon from walls, though this one I have not tried for myself.
– I also have used both lemon oil and lemon balm oil to remove sticky substances such as labels from surfaces.
– Put a couple drops of the essential oil(s) of your preference (mine is Thieves) in the air vents.
– Put a couple drops of Thieves essential oil on door knobs, handles and remote controls after someone who is not feeling well has been in your home.
– Release those clean, fresh scents into your home by putting the scents in your diffuser. You could use Orange Oil, Lemon Oil, Citrus Fresh, Wintergreen, Thieves, or Lavender to name a few, or even a combination of oils!
– You can even create your own cleaning and laundry supplies using essential oils! These helpful links can get you started:
For more information on the products you have in your home, go to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Development’s household product database.
And if you would like to learn more about essential oils, please click here for more information and to get started!