Most household cleaners are full of allergens and toxins. Here's how you can avoid all that - and clean green!
While most of us presume a good clean of the house is a great idea - and that is mostly true - sometimes you could be doing more harm than good, both to yourself and the environment.
This all depends on what you're cleaning with. Not only are most cleaning agents toxic, they can be harmful triggers for anyone with sensitive allergies.
Here's what you need to know about cleaning products, and what you can use if you suffer allergies.
Allergens and people
Here are some facts about common household cleaning products: Formaldehyde, phenol, benzene and toluene are found in common household cleaners, but all have been found to be not-so-great for your immune system. Those with allergies have long known to avoid household cleaners where possible, especially cleaners containing bleach.
Children, in particular, can be vulnerable to chemicals in some cleaning products. So, when it comes to cleaning toys, or really anything that a child is likely to touch or put in their mouth, opt for more natural substances, like vinegar and bicarb soda.
Allergens and pets
Pets are also vulnerable to common cleaners. The most common signs of an allergy to inhalants in a dog are frequent itching, chewing and biting, especially on the tail, the stomach, and the insides of the hind legs, as well as licking and chewing the paws. Inhaled allergies can also result in sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. In cats, signs of an allergy to inhalants can be intense itching and alopecia.
Solvents – and their effects on the environment
Bleach, phosphates and ammonia – the chemicals found in many household and outdoor area cleaners are highly harmful to the environment. They leach into the ground destroying plant and animal life and are not biodegradable, meaning they sit in the soil for years.
So, what can you do?
We all have to clean! Try ‘green’ products that are free from bleach, phosphates and ammonias. You can purchase these in supermarkets or specialist stores, but you may be able to find natural substances in your home or grocery aisle to use as a substitute.
Here are a few that have been tried and tested:
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate): An all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. Cleans, deodorises, removes stains and softens fabrics
- Borax (sodium borate): A natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria. An alternative to bleach, it deodorises, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap.
- Cornstarch: Starches clothes, absorbs oil and grease.
- Herbs and essential oils: Great for disinfecting and fragrance.
- Lemon juice: Cuts through grease.