Many of the chemicals we use every day have negative health effects; swap them for safe, natural alternatives.
Many of the products we use to maintain our home are often loaded with many toxic ingredients. This is well known––often these come with a warning that if they are ingested, they can cause harm. While this warning likely is issued for people with small children (since most people would not knowingly ingest these products), it stands to reason that we do not have to ingest these materials to be exposed to them, and thus the risk for harm remains.
Truly, we expose ourselves to a wide variety of unnatural chemicals every day, from the materials in our clothes, cosmetics, household cleaners, building materials and polluted air. These exposures can take a toll on the body. Groups like The Environmental Working Group (EWG) have issued warnings about many of these commonly used products. One report found that inhaling chemical cleaners posed as much risk to the lung health of janitorial workers as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
The EWG can be a good source of information on the safety of a wide variety of products for the home; as a consumer watchdog group, they evaluate thousands of products with the scrutiny that our regulatory agencies have failed to provide. Ultimately, there are a wide variety of products that we should likely be swapping for safer, more natural alternatives.
Household Cleaners and Detergents
For household cleaners, look for non-toxic varieties, such orange oil-based citrus cleaners with D-limonene. Vinegar mixed with water can also be a good solution. As far as store-bought brands, Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products are often far safer than many of the other brands found in stores. Dishwashing soaps, too, should be evaluated for safety, as should detergents used for laundry. Unscented products are typically a safer bet. Avoid using dryer sheets.
We have seen in recent years that many of the most commonly used herbicides carry significant health risks, including the risk of causing cancer. Ditch these toxic products in favor of more natural solutions. A common, safe and effective herbicide recipe is a gallon of white vinegar, a cup of salt and a tablespoon of dish soap combine in a water bottle and sprayed on unwanted weeds.
Most air fresheners contain an array of unnatural chemicals, but this is perhaps one of the easiest swaps to make. Simply diffusing essential oils is an excellent way to freshen the air, and may come with a variety of health benefits. It is important to remember too, that indoor smells can be a sign of something more serious, such as mold contamination. It is important to address the root of the problem before trying to mask smells. Keeps all the rooms of your house well-ventilated, and try opening windows as often as the weather allows.
There are many brands that carry safe and effective, all-natural furniture polish. It is possible to make homemade varieties, though, with essential oils, olive oil, and lemon juice. Other recipes call for beeswax, almond oil, and lemon oil. Furniture polish and cleaning material really constitutes a fairly easy swap when it comes to getting rid of chemically-laden products.
It is usually easy to tell when a room has been freshly painted; opt for paints that are water-based latex with little or VOCs (volatile organic compounds).