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You probably thought that keeping your home clean is a no-brainer for staying healthy, but the scary truth about commercial cleaning products reveals that the opposite may be true.
No, we’re not knocking hygiene – of course you should keep your home clean. However, research has shown that the products the majority of Americans are using to do so are highly detrimental to their health, causing side effects such as hormone disruption, skin irritations, and even cancer. (1)
Read on to discover how the familiar household cleaning products in your life can be harming your health, and what you can do about it.
Chemical Household Cleaners Hiding in Your Cabinets
Almost all household cleaners (and even some so-called “green” cleaners) are filled with toxic chemicals that have been shown to have damaging effects on your body.
This is true even if you clean with gloves on your hands to avoid touching cleaners directly – the fact remains that the surface will still have the residue of chemicals you’ll touch later. Not to mention, many sprays and wipes fill the air with chemical fragrances and particles that land on your skin, in your eyes, or are inhaled (scary news for your lungs as well).
Here are four of the most common chemicals in popular cleaning products, and their effects.
Phthalates are a class of chemicals found most commonly in fragranced household products, such as air fresheners, dish soap, countertop sprays, and even toilet paper. Outside of household products, phthalates are used in industrial materials as plasticizers, varnishes and coverings (yikes!).
The man concern surrounding phthalates is that they act as endocrine disruptors that affect your thyroid. Endocrine disruptors mess with the normal function of hormones, which can have detrimental effects on your entire body, especially for newborns and children. Studies have found that phthalates can cause premature breast development in girls and genital development in boys, and can also reduce sperm quality in adult men. (2)
Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical also found in chemical household cleaners and beauty products. Like phthalates, it has been shown to disrupt hormones – estrogen in particular. Studies show that its effect on estrogen and estrogen receptors could cause it to encourage the spread of estrogen-dependent cancers, as well as interfere with thyroid function. (3, 4)
2-butoxyethanol is another ingredient found in surface and window cleaners that has extremely harsh side effects. According to the EWG, it can cause respiratory irritation when inhaled, as well as cause skin irritation.
In addition, it also depresses the central nervous system and causes genetic defects, reproductive toxicity, pulmonary edema, and cancer. (5)
Ammonia is another very common ingredient in chemical household cleaners (hence why hospitals are always associated with an ammonia smell). Studies show that it can be extremely irritating to your lungs, exacerbating respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. (6)
In addition, other studies reveal ammonia is particularly harmful to your brain, where it can interfere with its energy pathways and cause harm to brain cells. (7)
Creating Natural Disinfectants for Safer Cleaning
It’s always scary and disheartening to read about the negative effects of some of the products you may have been using for years. Luckily, there are natural options you can switch to right away that are just as effective as commercial cleaners, but without the harmful side effects.
We crafted this 3-Ingredient, All-Purpose Spray for you to use around your home to clean countertops, your shower, your bathroom, and to use as an air freshener. Here’s a breakdown of the three ingredients it contains, and how they work:
Lemon and orange essential oils
Essential oils are 100 percent natural extracts from plants, fruits, barks, grasses, and leaves that have been used for hundreds of years for their benefits. The lemon and orange essential oils in the recipe below are proven antibacterials that are effective against potent bacteria strains like E. coli and Staph. (8) As a bonus, they also smell amazing without the addition of chemical fragrance.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) or white vinegar
You can use either apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar for the third ingredient in this natural, all-purpose cleaner. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a natural disinfectant due to its ascetic acid content, which effectively kills some of the strongest of bacteria like tuberculosis. (9)
3-Ingredient, All-Purpose Spray That Smells Like Summer
Now, we know it’s summer: the windows are open and the light of longer days is flooding in, so it only makes sense that you want your home to be sparkling and clean. Luckily, now you can clean with peace of mind using a 100 percent natural, all-purpose cleaner. And with only three ingredients, it only takes a few minutes to shake up!
Check out the 3-Ingredient, All-Purpose Spray below that will keep surfaces clean and shiny, without jeopardizing your health.
5 drops lemon essential oil and 5 drops orange essential oil
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider or white vinegar
Combine water, vinegar, and lemon and orange essential oils in a small spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray on surfaces as needed. This spray can be stored at room temperature.
Tip: For more all-natural recipes, check out these 9 DIY cleaning products that every home needs.