Photo by Prixel Creative

True or False: Cleaning products are totally safe for human consumption.
The answer is false. If I handed you a cup of disinfectant or laundry detergent and told you to drink up, you’d think I was a lunatic! So, it makes sense that we coat all our household surfaces with these corrosive chemicals on a regular basis … just kidding. It doesn’t.

Your skin is your biggest organ. The chemicals we touch can easily make their way into our bloodstream, not to mention that plenty of them also make contact with things we actually ingest, like food. Germy counters are no good, but are bleach-coated counters really a better alternative?

As a culture we’ve gotten it into our heads that if we’re not being vigilant, we’re not being clean. Let’s challenge that mindset. Here are five good reasons to dump your harsh cleaners in favor of milder, more natural alternatives:

01 | Many cleaners contain toxic ingredients known to be dangerous to human health and development. Some, like 1,4-dioxane, are known carcinogens (e.g., cancer causing), while others like boric acid can disrupt hormone function.

02 | Fumes. Many ‘off gas’ vapors that can lead to hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and respiratory problems. A 2007 study shows that one in seven cases of adult asthma could be attributed to the weekly use of cleaning sprays. Such fumes include dangerous chemicals like quaternary ammonium compounds, chloroform, and formaldehyde.

03 | Small children and pets are at higher risk. By using toxic cleaners on floors and carpets you’re putting children and pets, who don’t always have the wherewithal NOT to lick the floor, at risk of ingesting harmful chemicals. Smaller bodies means that even small amounts of toxins can pose a threat to health and development.

04 | Overuse of antibacterial products can lead to super germs. Think about it. If a product can kill 99.9% of bacteria, do you really want to mess with the 0.1% that survives?

05 | Children benefit from a less sterile environment. Exposure to environmental bacteria early in life can help condition the immune system to fight infection.

The Good News!
It’s actually quite easy to find safer alternatives to common cleaning solutions. Also, Environmental Working Group also has an excellent guide to household cleaners to help you research ingredients in your current products.

WebMD, “FDA Panel: No Advantage to Antibacterial Soap: Advisory Panel Says Regular Soap and Water Just as Effective in Preventing Illness.” October 2005.

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At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human interest stories, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.  

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Wasserman of joins Conscious Magazine to launch a column on Consciously Clean Living . This topic is important to Elizabeth because of her passion for empowering people to lead healthier lives through honest, accurate, relatable and personally-tested information. Check out her interview and feature here.