Reduce Your Toxic Load Series: How to Detox Your Cleaning Cabinets
Continuing our series of detoxifying your life, this time I’m covering your cleaning cabinets. For many of us, this is where some of our most toxic ingredients are hiding. In fact, a study involving more than 1,500 women found that those who used a combination of cleaning products were up to 110 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who rarely used them. Solid air fresheners and mold- and mildew-control products more than doubled cancer risk.
Of course, that doesn’t mean living in a dirty house is healthier! Toxins from household dust, for example, can include toxic chemicals like phthalates, flame retardants, pesticides, and other contaminants. So the answer is to clean, but clean in healthier ways. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
- Choose safer cleaning products. Personally, I use Whole Foods Market glass cleaner, Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Cleaner, and Wood for Good dusting polish. The key here is to research the brand, as sometimes you can’t tell the whole story from the label.
- Make your own. There are a lot of things you can clean with simple vinegar and water—your floors, for instance, and your windows. I’ve got several more recipes on this post, if you’re looking for some, such as homemade oven cleaner and mold killer.
- Avoid the antibacterials. Yes, you want to kill germs, but you don’t need the chemical triclosan to do it. This chemical not only encourages the development of “superbugs,” but products made with it may be contaminated with toxic dioxins. During cold and flu season, wipe down your telephone, doorknobs, keyboards, and other frequently touched items with white vinegar and a spray bottle, or choose a safe brand. I like Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes, which kills germs botanically. I also love the Vida Aire lemongrass sanitizer.
- Think sustainably. Did you know that nearly half of the U.S. landfill trash is paper products? To clean with the Earth in mind, cut back on paper towels, and use washcloths instead. Just be sure to toss them in the dishwasher frequently to kill germs. In addition, only use as much water as you need, create recycling bins for your home, and reuse old cloths like shirts as rags.
- Avoid chemical air fresheners. They pollute your home with hormone disruptors. (Read more here.) Instead, open windows when you can, use baking soda to neutralize odors, place cotton balls with drops of essential oils around the house, boil some cinnamon and cloves on the stovetop, and use an air purifier. Remember too, that some houseplants can help clean the air of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, and fresh flowers can create a great natural scent in your home. Finally, if you like to burn candles to add scent to the air, choose those made with natural waxes like vegetable, soybean, or beeswax, and go for those that organically scented.
- Clean your vegetables. Conventional produce can contain a lot of pesticides, which studies have found to be linked with cancer. Buying organic helps. When you can’t, wash your vegetables with a safe cleanser. I love Environne fruit and vegetable wash.
- Check your laundry cabinets. Laundry products typically contain a lot of chemicals, including stabilizers, cleaning agents, buffering agents, brightening agents, fragrances, and more. Look for dye-free and fragrance-free options, shop at organic and whole food stores, and consider making your own, using Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and a gentle bar soap. I also love natural dryer balls for making my laundry soft without all the chemicals. Check out these from Woolzies.