In addition to food allergies our son deals with skin issues & sensitivity, respiratory issues (that have yet to be diagnosed as Asthma) & environmental allergies.
3 years ago, as I started to research all that is entailed with these issues, I began to look into what could aggravate the issues also. A big thing that kept coming up was cleaning products. Products we use every day that can harm the lining of the lungs, exacerbated eczema, & not actually clean your house at all. From stainless steel cleaners to bathroom cleaners to laundry detergent the ratings from the EWG (Environmental Working Group) were astonishing & not in a good way.
Some of the worst for respiratory irritants were bathroom cleaners, candles, & air freshness. The chemicals that are used to allow the fragrance to float in the room & the burn off is incredibly harmful, not to mention the fragrance that is used can contribute to each of the issues my son was dealing with. There is way too much information to dig through here, but both Christopher Gavin’s book Healthy Child, Healthy World & Jessica Alba’s book The Honest Life are great resources for where to start. If you want a little more science & weight, check out the EWG’ website.
I remember thinking when I was pregnant with my daughter “if I can’t clean with these products when I’m pregnant, should I be cleaning with them at all or exposing my kids to them?” The answer was no. I knew I needed to make some changes & for the last few years I have been cleaning with non-toxic products. We used to have this odor to our house, it just smelled stale & sour, & it hasn’t smelled that way since I changed things over (hmmm!!!!)
I have quite a few “recipes” for my cleaning products that I will share through out the month, but today I want to ease into the subject & hit on a 3 big products you will need as you begin to make your own cleaning products & detoxify your home.
#1. Vinegar- the plain distilled vinegar you find in any grocery store is the king of natural cleaners in my opinion. This one product can freshen the air, replace bleach, control mold & mildew, deodorize (from clothes to pet urine), clean stainless steel & windows & it’s also safe for electronic screens, wash fruits & veggies. The list is endless. I have been known to soak stinky clothes or towels in vinegar. Last night actually I used vinegar & hot water to clean our shower curtain. It does have a smell to it at first, but the smell will completely go away once it has dried.
#2. Baking Soda- I use it for cleaning bathtubs, toilets, tile scrubber, sink scrubber, & a glass stove top cleaner. It can also be used to deodorize mattresses, furniture, & carpets. Plus when you put vinegar & baking soda together it’s fantastic, but be careful it turns into a volcano upon contact–great little science experiement with the kiddos though. The combo along with boiling water is even a safe, super effective, & cheap drain cleaner.
#3. Castile Soap- I have just recently discovered this. The price is a little alarming at first ($15 for a bottle of soap…what!?) but I use it a lot & it doesn’t even look like it has been opened. It is so potent & powerful only a little needs to be used. It can be found anywhere, Dr. Bonner’s is the most common that I have seen but I am sure there are other brands too. This soap is a very gentle, mild cleanser that can be used to clean floors, bathrooms, walls, & dishes. I actually mix ours with a little water & use a foam soap dispenser & we always have foaming hand soap on the cheap (foaming hand soap is big with kids). It is the perfect non-toxic, gentle, all-purpose cleanser.
With these 3 products & some hot water you can clean almost anything. Not only will you eliminate many of the toxic chemicals in your home, but it is much cheaper than any premade product you will find. This is an easy place to start, but I will warn you it does require a little retraining; we expect our homes to have some sort of smell, good or bad, when they get cleaned; but really they shouldn’t, cleanliness should be an absence of odor entirely. But if you must add a little fragrance, essential oils are a great place to start & have beneficial properties of their own.
So if you are trying to detoxify your home or even cut your cleaning bill, start right here. You can know you home is clean, smells fresh, & is safe for all members of the family….all with products you may already have.