Many ingredients in common household cleaning products are harmful to our health – and especially for our ABC kids. Most products bear the warning “Keep Out of Reach of Children”, but people often think that as long as our kids aren’t ingesting the product they won’t be harmed by them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children often sit on floor or touch surfaces that have been freshly cleaned, as well as breathing in fumes from the cleansers. Industrial chemicals pose a far greater risk to fetuses and young children than to adults because their brains and immune systems are still being formed. Many of the ingredients are known carcinogens as well as endocrine disruptors (which mess with the natural balance of hormones and can lead to numerous health problems – among them ADHD).
Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY conducted a study on the effects of many common chemicals found in household cleaners. In an interview with Fox News last year, he is quoted as saying, “If some chemical gets in to the developing brain, whether lead or methylmercury, and either kills brain cells or disrupts cell division or cell migration, those connections are lost and the brain is not as complete as it should have been. And the consequence is a child whose intelligence is reduced and attention span shortened, etc. The human brain is a wondrous creation, and extremely complex, but the price of that complexity is vulnerability.”
Landrigan went on to draw a correlation between an increase of ABC (not his exact term) diagnoses and an increased usage of synthetic chemicals, in addition to the direct evidence showing that specific chemicals have been linked to various behavioral and cognitive problems in children. He believes that even certain chemicals where the evidence of toxicity is still being researched, the risks outweigh any benefit. Landrigan says, “Why take a chance? Why risk your health and your child’s health with exposure to a chemical [with] at least some toxicity when there are safe alternatives available?’”
Thankfully I have been saying more and more of those safe alternatives being carried in many supermarket chains. Though many of them still contain ingredients that I consider harsh, they are still a significant improvement to conventional cleaners. Companies such as Seventh Generation, Method, and Meyers, among others, can be found at Target and local supermarkets.
Personally I prefer to use Young Living’s Thieves cleanser diluted in a spray bottle with water. It can be used as a cleaner for a variety of surfaces (bathrooms, floors, counters…), is a natural disinfectant, and I love the way it smells. You can find out more about how to purchase it HERE.
Another favorite of mine is a DIY all purpose cleaner which is by far the cheapest cleanser I’ve ever used – but also requires some forethought to make. Hence, my trusty thieves cleanser when I am not as organized as I’d like. But if your priority is making healthy changes for pennies, this is the cleanser for you.
HOMEMADE ALL PURPOSE CLEANSER
- Peels from any citrus fruits – orange, lemon, or grapefruit
- white vinegar
- An essential oil that corresponds to the fruit peels you are using (lemon oil for lemon peels, orange oil for orange peels, etc.
This is a VERY economical and easy cleanser to use, and it works on everything – counter tops, sink, stove tops, even floors. All you need to do is stash the peels from any citrus fruits you use in a ziploc bag in the freezer until you have a nice amount collected. Place the peels into a glass jar, pour some salt on top, and let it sit for a half hour or so. The salt helps draw out the oils from the peels, which will make your cleanser stronger. Next, fill the jar up halfway with vinegar, and then top off with water until the top. Close the jar properly and let it sit for 2-3 weeks at least. When it’s ready, strain out the liquid from the peels (you can discard the peels at this point), pour into an empty spray bottle, and add 10-15 drops of the proper oil to the liquid (the essential oil will make it stronger, and mask the vinegar smell).
Note: Citrus essential oils have the ability to erode plastic over time. If you are going to be using the cleanser up quickly, I think it’s fine to use a plastic spray bottle. However if it’s something that may last you a month or longer, you may want to consider investing in some glass or stainless steel spray bottles.