How to Spring Clean Your Home Safely

May 4, 2017

in Ask Dr Lisa, Family Health

” Dr. Lisa, I loved your free Kid’s Healthy Shopping List, as I have begun the journey of removing harmful toxins and ingredients in my child’s food choices. It got me thinking – should I also be considering removing any harmful toxins in my home such as some that are in cleaners that I am using?  My daughter is such a big helper in doing her chores, so using safe products is something I would like to consider.” ~ Caroline , Texas

If your life is anything similar to mine, balancing time to clean dirty toilets, bathrooms, showers, and kitchens is a juggling act. Top this magic trick with picking up dirty laundry, as well as, washing, sorting, folding and the dreaded putting clean clothes away, and you truly steal the show.  In fact, you are my superhero if you pull this all off in the midst of kids and work.

One of my favorite infrequent moments in my momma circus life, is when for some strange cosmic reason, my house is entirely clean. That is, all the rooms, laundry and floors. That very precious moment when I realize the mess and dirt is all gone. Clean. Healthy. Done.

Well, maybe clean and done, but let’s question healthy.

You see, we typically equate a clean home to a healthy safe place for our children. And, the amount of work and magic that goes into making sure our homes are clean and safe for our children deserves superhero awards. However, if we use toxic chemicals to clean our homes, we actually are leaving behind unhealthy hazardous residues both on our home’s surfaces and in the indoor air that are extremely harmful to our family. Yikes.

Imagine. All that effort and craze to get our houses clean, yet we fail to keep our children healthy when we use the wrong cleaning products.

Insane, right?

It is super important to have your child involved in pitching in with the household cleaning and chores. Many kids as young as the age of three can help put toys away, keeping their play areas and bedrooms neat. As a child grows, one can start to use a non-toxic safe cleaner to wipe windows, tables and even counter tops. As your child matures, he/she can actually gain more responsibility in helping clean the home with chores such as loading and emptying a dishwasher and laundry machine, bringing down dirty laundry, folding and putting away clean laundry, cleaning a bathroom with safe cleaners and vacuuming.

In our home the rule is we all pitch in. We assign chores, but also will ask whatever child is home to help pitch in with a task that is age appropriate. I tell my boys that we are a tribe and we work together, pitching in so our family happily works. I do not pay them as being part of our tribe means doing their part without monetary reward. However, we gladly give our children some money to go out with their friends if they are doing their part. Groovy how we all reward our children differently and get them to pitch in!

If your child is using your household cleaners, let’s stop and dig deeper into why you must use healthy products only.

Through much of my research over the years, I have found that toxins in the home, food and environment are linked to creating health problems such as asthma, eczema, childhood and breast cancer and neurological problems such as behavior, learning and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Harmful Chemicals in Household CleanersThe Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation’s (CCRF), Toxic-Free Kids program encourages parents to use safe cleaning alternatives to lessen their children’s exposure to hazardous and potentially cancer-causing products that contain carcinogens such as kerosene, hydrochloric acid, ammonia and chlorine bleach. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution within our homes is a serious health concern.

Children are at a higher risk to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their immune systems, organs, tissues and nervous systems are growing and developing rapidly each and every day. Also, children tend to crawl, play in dirty areas, and use their hands and mouth to explore and learn about their world. Even as children get older, their play, behavior and lack of awareness to hygiene continues to make them more vulnerable. Adding harmful toxins for them to breathe in or lather onto their skin and hair only increases risks of health problems.

Household products such as bleach, ammonia, window, wood, oven, bath and toilet cleaners, dish and laundry detergents, and air fresheners can be dangerous to a child’s health.

The Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to have a link to autism and learning disabilities. The top ten chemicals are lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, endocrine disruptors, automotive exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds.

At this time, two papers were published by researchers from University of California – Davis suggesting the need for more studies. One stated a correlation that PCBs disrupt early brain development and another advised the exploration of the link between pesticide exposure and autism.

It is true; a CLEAN house can be a harmful to our children. Ugh.

What You Can Do to Create a Healthy Clean Home

Our goal is to build a family and home that is safe, healthy and clean for our children. In order to do so, you must be aware and avoid the following common household cleaning chemicals. They are reported to be toxic and create diseases such as breast and childhood cancer, asthma, eczema and neurological problems.

Common Toxic Cleaning Chemicals to Avoid

Alkylphenols are chemicals used in detergents and other cleaning products. They’re also found in personal care products, especially hair products. These chemicals interact with cellular estrogen receptors in the body, capable of creating estrogen displacement and havoc.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical used in cleaning products and household items such as soaps, detergents, toothpastes, mouthwash and cleaning supplies. The pesticide chemical can affect the body’s hormone systems, such as thyroid hormones, and consequently, may disrupt normal breast development.

Aldehydes, such as glutaraldehyde, are chemicals that may cause when the are breathed in or come in contact with the skin. They can cause permanent damage to the eyes, ears, nose , throat and lungs. Formaldehyde is a lung and respiratory irritant and is also classified as a category 3 carcinogen. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in cleaning products.

Benzalkonium Chloride is a sanitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema and chronic dermatitis. There is also a stated correlation between an increase in childhood asthma and the exposure to this chemical through household disinfectants, sanitizers, and personal care products.

Sodium Hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer that can burn skin and cause eye damage. Mixing bleach with other household products can be extremely dangerous. According to the American Association of Poison Control Center’s annual reports, sodium hypochlorite has been implicated in many household accidents and/or deaths.

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used to render plastics soft and flexible. They are found in plastics, cosmetics, fragrances especially in cosmetics and household cleaners, baby care products, building material, modeling clay, cars and insecticides. They enter the body by skin, ingestion, inhalation and medical injection. They are found in the air and dust in homes.

Ammonia Hydroxide is a common sanitizer used in the home, and according to the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is considered carcinogenic. It also had been linked with creating health problems with skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes. The Environmental Working Group has stated a correlation with asthma, respiratory and skin issues as well.

Dyes in Cleaning Products

Dyes in cleaning products are often unlabeled on the products’ ingredient lists, but are often comprised of several different chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Dyes in food and cleaning products have been linked to cancer and neurological problems, such as behavior, attention, learning problems.

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3 are derived from coal tar and petroleum, and according to the Center of Science in Public Interest (CSPI) have or have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The British Food Standards Agency in 2001 concluded after a study that 6 dyes/colorants and sodium benzoate were linked to increasing hyperactivity and ADD in children. As a result, the European Union Law required all beverages with these 6 dyes to have warning labels that consumption can lead to hyperactivity. We must be aware that our children are not ingesting dyes through foods or inhaling it the air as well.

How to Detox and Create a Toxic-Free Home

You are a supermom. Your hard work and love does not go unnoticed. Simply yield here and allow this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Vinegar

Vinegar works great at removing grease, dirt and grime. It is acidic in nature and has a super antibacterial effect. I use it on the floors, counter tops in bathroom and kitchens, toilets, mirrors and windows. Mix 1 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle. Safe and fun for the kids.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is great as an abrasive and replaces products such as Comet or Soft Scrub by miles. It works great on the toilets, tubs, showers and places that need a tougher scrubbing such as the stove. If you need more power, simple add a little salt to it. Safe for the kids too!

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has the power to kill mold and beat grease. It also leaves a great lemon fresh scent. Simply mix lemon juice with vinegar or olive oil to create a lovely safe and strong cleaning product.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide has an amazing ability to remove stains and cut through tougher grease and dirt. Mixing it in a spray bottle with water is a great cleaner and also can be a safe spot remove when doing laundry.

Essential Oils

I personally love using essential oils to make a simple low cost and healthy house cleaner. It only takes a minute or two to fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water and add a few drops of essential oil to make an instant glass and appliance cleaner! It also is super easy to fill a bucket with water and add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil for a floor cleaner. Try using lime,  sweet orange,  rosemary, eucalyptus or tea tree,  thyme; lemon or lemongrass, and peppermint essential oils when cleaning your home.

I am pretty picky about my essential oils as I am my food. Here is the thing- you want a high grade therapeutic oil, but also I prefer a certified organic one as well. This means having the USDA certified organic label so I know pesticides, herbicides and fungicides have not been used. My favorite certified organic brand is Plant Therapy.  I love their Top 6 Starter Kit as it has many every day oils- all certified organic for only $30!  My other non- certified organic choices is Do Terra. Check them out!

Homemade Laundry and Dish Detergents

There are many recipes today on the internet and Pinterest on how to DIY your own laundry and dish detergents. Look at this great website that even has a DIY dryer sheets, keeping your house and cleaning products safe and healthy for your kids. Also if you want to learn more about harmful ingredients and chemicals read my post here.

Dr. Lisa’s Homemade Cleaner

  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar (I don’t always use because kids don’t like smell so I omit)
  • Bucket of  warm water
  • 1-2 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

Instructions: Simply put vinegar and essential oil into bucket of water.

Remember, harmful toxins in food, our homes and environments can create neurological problems in the body. Thus, having a harmful toxin-free home helps our children regulate their nervous systems and overcome challenges related to asthma, allergies, sensory processing, ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Clean. Safe. Healthy.

I now feel like a real Super Mom. You will too!

Resources:  

*Always read my disclaimer and photo is by Oksana Kuzmina @ Dollar Photo . This page contains affiliate links meaning we earn a commission if you use those links. We only recommend brands we use and trust. 

http://www.cleanwelltoday.com/blog/?p=61
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700674/BENZALKONIUM_CHLORIDe
http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-benzalkonium-chloride-the-potentially-harmful-disinfectan
http://www.drfranklipman.com/top-10-chemicals-most-likely-to-cause-autism-and-learning-disabilities/
Baby and Child Safe Disinfecting
http://www.bibra-information.co.uk/downloads/toxicity-profile-for-ammonium-hydroxide-199
http://www.healthyhomecleaning.com/norwex-window-cloth-vs-windex/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240919/

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