How many of you have jumped on the toxin-free band wagon? While selecting safer products for your home is admirable, there is SO much misinformation out there thanks to Dr. Google and the plethora of products claiming to be “safe” with nothing to support their claims except for a pretty picture of a leaf on the product label. During part 2 of this blog series, we will review what to look for and avoid in your cleaning products to ensure you get what you expect to pay for.
When it comes to selecting non-toxic cleaners and disinfectants for your home, the first and best place to start is the chemistry. There are two main chemistries to avoid that are known to cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation. The first chemistry is bleach (no surprise there!). A common replacement for bleach which is frequently marketed as “Bleach Free” are QUATS (Quaternary ammonium compounds). QUATS are the most common chemistry used in consumer grade cleaning products. I talked about the toxicity of Quats in Part 1 which is linked HERE if you wish you learn more. So what chemistries do I recommend? My go to is always Hydrogen Peroxide based products. Hydrogen Peroxide is non-toxic, inherently and readily biodegradable, non-irritating, yet has the amazing capability to kill germs. You can also look for products based on natural acids like citric or lactic acid. This is where reading your product label is essential to know what is actually in your cleaners and disinfectants!
Irrelevant Marketing Claims
All Natural, Biodegradable, and CFC Free, are just some of the marketing claims that are totally irrelevant. Let’s start with “All Natural” cleaners and disinfectants. Just because a product claims to be all natural does NOT mean that it’s safe. Chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, uranium, and formaldehyde are just some of the naturally occurring chemicals that are very toxic. My other favorite is “Biodegradable”. Did you know that EVERYTHING is biodegradable? So if something takes 1000 years to degrade, “biodegradable” could still be on the product label. What you want is a product that quickly degrades which can be identified with the relevant claims “readily biodegradable” or “inherently biodegradable” which are more specific to the actual time frame of biodegradability. Finally, if you’ve bought a product because it claims to be CFC Free, jokes on you because CFCs have been banned for over 30 years so NO product contains CFCs.
Is there anything better than the smell of a clean house? What clean scent is your favorite? Lemon? Lavender? Did you know that the smell of clean should be no smell at all? Most scents used in cleaning products are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which negatively impact indoor air quality and can be irritating to the lungs. Instead, opt for scent free products. You will know your house is clean when you can smell… NOTHING!
Read the Fine Print
You would not believe how many “green” and “non-toxic” cleaning products actually have warning symbols/statements in the fine print on the label. The most common warning statements are skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Again, READ your product label to ensure you aren’t getting tricked by that pretty green leaf on the front label.
Concentrated cleaning products are a great way to save money, but how many of you just pour in your disinfectant without reading what dilution should be used? Properly diluting your concentrates ensures two things. 1. Proper dilutions ensure you are using the correct amount of chemical to effectively clean, kill germs, and protect your surfaces. 2. Proper dilutions help maintain the safety profile of the product. If you are over diluting you are making the solution stronger than it needs to be which could negatively impact the safety profile.
So whats the moral of the story? READ THE PRODUCT LABEL, YES ALL OF IT!