Clean Fresh Home
by Holly Pellham Davis
Just saying the word, “March” fills my mind with thoughts of marching through every room in the house and doing a complete clean out. By the time the dust settles, I have to confess, there is not much left on the shelves, counter tops, or in the drawers. It all has morphed into a sea of bags labeled “donations” and “re-sell” which makes me feel so much lighter, refreshed and cleansed... almost as good as I imagine I would feel after a “We Care Spa” retreat. (Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.)
I love downsizing, detoxing, reducing, reusing, repurposing, simplifying “things” in life. One of my favorite places to “clean out” is the cleaning bucket. Seems kinda strange doesn’t it? ... cleaning out the cleaning bucket... but it makes me nuts to have 5,000 products to clean the bath tub! Do we really need all that? And, should we be in cardiac or respiratory distress, from the toxic fumes all in the name of a streak free mirror?
The fact that over half of all cleaning products contain chemicals that harm the lungs (what about the brain and liver?) and another 22% cause asthma in healthy adults leaves me even more breathless. Add the stats of increased respiratory allergies almost tripling in 2008-2010 and findings that people who used spray cleaners to clean their homes at least once per week has a 30-50% increased risk of asthma. Air fresheners, glass cleaners and furniture spray were frequently used products.
Some Health issues linked to Cleaning Products/Chemicals include:
Respiratory allergies and distress Toxicity in the body through inhalation and skin contact.
Skin irritations, allergies Cancer. (especially blood cancer ie: Asthma Burns and Poisoning.
Recently, I penned an article on the “Air we Breathe” and the importance of clean air indoors and our overall health. Products that mask, fragrance and/or chemically disinfect our air, products that clean, polish and wax surfaces, products that retard bacteria, remove mold or bleach surfaces in wet areas. These cleaning products gas off or evaporate into the air we breathe effecting our health both, short and long term. Exposures can leave chemicals lingering in our bodies for decades with devastating effects.
Let’s put on some gloves, a white mask (if needed), a cute apron, and get to work!
First, we need to grab a container that will hold “toxic” products (we must dispose of them properly- you do not want to be drinking it down the road. It all goes somewhere, right? Visit Dallas County website for locations and directions.
Review products you have on hand: The majority of cleaning products do not list the complete ingredients on the label. It’s a dastardly, devious thing to do. Luckily, we can usually discern for ourselves if a product has a high probability of containing toxic substances. If in question, toss it. (properly)
Most people have 1)house cleaning products, 2)kitchen cleaning products, 3) laundry products and then 4)garage type (lawn and auto) products. Hit all areas separately.
Refer online to Environmental Working Group’s Product database if you have a question.
Dispose of any product that contains the following:
Products Listed on EWG List of Shame:
Chlorine / Bleach
Petroleum Dirivitives ie: Mineral Oil, Wax
2-butoxyethanol (2-BE) carcinogen, respiratory irritant.
Phthalates ie:Butyl Benzyl Phthalate
Benzene, Dioxane 1,4, Ethylene Oxide
Citrus and Pine Cleaners
All Paints, Solvents, Thinners.
Fuels should only be safely stored away from the house.
Pesticides, Baits, Herbicides, Weed Killer, Round-up, Ant Killer
Aerosol with fluorocarbon Containers
Any Chemical Listed in California’s Prop 65 List of Chemicals known to be Carcinogens and cause Reproductive Toxicity
Formaldehyde (carcinogen) Releasing Chemicals list via EWG:
Remove & Discard all products containing toxic chemicals listed above and/or products you have deemed toxic.
Please include: Laundry dryer sheets, Petroleum based and scented candles, air refreshers, deodorizers, and “Fabreeze type” products.
“Clean” DIY Alternatives:
Vinegar & Water. Vinegar is my very favorite cleaning product. I mix 1 part vinegar to about 3 parts water, in a spray bottle to clean bathtubs & showers. (mix with baking soda and Bronner’s soap for a mild abrasive and tile, porcelain cleaner) For mold removal, spray hydrogen peroxide after the vinegar spray to do the trick! Add a spray of peroxide anytime you need antibacterial or extra germ fighting action, perfect for the toilet bowl! Add vinegar to the rinse cycle of the laundry for extra brightening, softening and freshness! Clean your countertops, granite, marble, sinks. Just spray and wipe with clean re-usable cleaning towels! For a true air refresher, room oder remover, place a small bowl of white vinegar on the counter top! Hydrogen Peroxide in a spray bottle: Use hydrogen peroxide for mold and anti bacterial uses in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Spot testing is always recommended. Peroxide in a spray bottle application is a great alternative to cleaning fruits and vegetables as well as disinfecting cutting boards. Be sure to rinse and let the food dry prior to consumption. Gloves are strongly suggested, as the peroxide can burn your hands.
Baking soda is fantastic for deodorizing carpets and pet areas. Just sprinkle prior to vacuuming designated areas. Baking soda can be easily mixed with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice to increase cleaning power. It can also be mixed with water and liquid dish soap, to create a nice cleanser for tile or other non- porous surfaces including sinks and ovens. Hot Water: Nothing can take the place of good ole hot water. One of the best perks for under the counter instant hot water is the ability to put it on a dry clean cloth and clean plus naturally kill germs in an instant. Hot water cuts grease and gets the shine on!
Plant Oils: Olive Oil, Lemon Oil: One of the worst violators commonly comes in the form of furniture polish. Skip the exposure and danger with a non-toxic do it yourself concoction of Olive Oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and lemon oil. Spot test first. Apply to clean dry cloth, then furniture. For best results, use microfiber cleaning towels to remove toxic dust prior to oil.
Green Light Cleaning Products:
You can also check the EWG website (although I don’t agree with some product listings.)
Some of my favorite products are listed below:
Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
Seventh Generation Liquid dish soap
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes
Method Glass Cleaner
Method Almond Wood Cleaner
Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Other Clean Fresh Living Cleaning Tips include:
Protect Yourself: Dust particles can contain highly toxic, very dangerous contaminants such as formaldehyde, lead, mercury, arsenic, pesticides and flame retardants. Please use gloves and a white mask while dusting.
Pre-Clean: I recommend going over furniture, blinds and other dust collecting objects with a microfiber cloth prior to using a furniture cleaner or oil. Conserve: Use washable cleaning or automotive towels to replace paper towel waste. Lint free linen drying towels are great for glass and mirrors. Bare feet rule: Have people remove their shoes prior to entering your home. This greatly reduces the dirt and dust accumulations.
Frequently vacuum using HEPA filter the carpeted areas of your home. Replace air filters often.
Keep it movin’: Keep air circulating in your house at all times. This is absolutely essential. Open doors and windows when possible and get the flow going. Add fans if necessary.
Give a Green 411 to the housekeeper: If you have a house keeper on the scene, make sure you teach then how to and what goes where.
Label with a list of applications. ie: Bathtub.
Remember, even if you aren’t home while your house is being cleaned, its in the air, in the dust and in you..
Now that we have cleared the air with clean fresh cleaning products for our home... whatta ya say we use some of our left over house cleaning ingredients for a refreshing glass of water... squeeze the lemon, hold the olive oil.
Cheer’s to Clean Fresh Living!
When my kids tell me they are tired, don’t feel well, or basically grumble for any reason at all, I tell them to drink water. It’s pretty much my answer to everything… But, they know it comes with lots of stipulations, and it’s really not all that simple. Here’s why.
All water is not created equal. The formula for which about 70% of the earth is made of, 1 oxygen to 2 hydrogen atoms, is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are pollutants, minerals, additives, chemicals, and treatments to consider.
Let’s talk water types:
Tap or Municipal Water – The water flowing form our faucets typically contains additives like fluoride, which was introduced in the 1940s by a town in Michigan after studies that showed fluoride strengthened teeth. Many people believe the push for fluoride was a double mistake along with the use of mercury in fillings, both highly toxic and poisonous. Fluoride is a neuro-toxin which has been shown in studies to cause decreased and impaired cognitive development and lower IQs. After studying the effects on developing brains, we now know it is especially critical that fluorinated water never be mixed with infant formula. (By the way, the same dangers lurk in your average toothpaste. Opt for fluoride-free). In January 2011, the CDC reduced the levels of fluoride added to municipal water supplies after a report indicating that 2 in 5 children in America showed signs of fluoride poisoning.
Tap water is also contaminated with pharmaceuticals such as Prozac, Viagra, blood thinners, cancer drugs, and statins. (Even found in waters in the Arctic.) The threat is alarming, and its effects are inconceivable when you ponder what the combination of these drugs could possibly do to a developing brain or any living thing for that matter.
Treatments, such as the water disinfectant Chlorine, have become a necessary evil. While its a good thing that the chlorine kills the bacteria in the water, it’s usually our bodies that are left to filter the chlorine, and its highly toxic. Chlorine, when combined with organic compounds, result in disinfection by-poducts* or DBPs, which, according to the CDC, have been linked to liver, kidney, and nervous system problems, and are carcinogenic.
Bottled Water – Unbeknownst to most consumers, about 40% of all bottled water is tap water. (Nestle has recently been sued with claims of misleading consumers.) So not only do you need to worry about all of the above factors from the tap, but you also need to consider the toxic plastic bottle the water has been stored in. Ugh. We have to read the fine print and look for sources. Best bets are “Spring” or “Spring Mountain Water” with the source labeled clearly on the container. If it states, “municipal source,” forget about it. You are better off getting a glass form the tap and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It will naturally evaporate off many of the toxic DBPs, making it safer to drink. (You still get the pharmaceuticals, fluoride, etc though.)
Next, look for how its been treated. You want reverse osmosis at a minimum. Reverse osmosis systems remove most chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants as well as about 80% of fluoride and DBPs. Carbon filtration is another good layer of protection. Only use plastic bottled water in extenuating circumstances or if you have a brand in particular you use for health reasons. I have one I consume daily with my workout, guaranteed to be free of arsenic, DBP, chlorine, fluoride, MTBE, chromium 6, and the most difficult, trace pharmaceuticals. When you do have to grab a bottle, make sure it has been stored out of the heat, preferably at 37 degrees, and you properly recycle it. Never throw plastic in the regular garbage bin. Also make sure when you do need a bottled water, its comes from a friendly source and does not cause the surrounding people hardship. Beautiful places do not always beget beautiful water.
Distilled Water – Another item to avoid is distilled water, as it has been boiled, which takes out the beneficial minerals and can be harmful to your health if consumed repeatedly. It is also very acidic. Save it for your iron.
Vitamin Water — So called “Vitamin” Waters are usually accompanied by high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and synthetic vitamins. It is nothing but a deceivingly healthy sounding, high-priced chemical cocktail.
Coconut Water – An excellent source of potassium and excellent in treating dehydration (especially associated with a holiday party hangover), coconut water can be a healthy choice. But remember that large soda companies are behind some brands. For example, a container of Zico typically contains 22 grams of sugar (almost the same amount that’s in soda), and that’s the plain version. Added-fruit varieties only increase the calorie count. Pure water is best. Have it with a banana and save your money. If you have had a hard workout and need electrolytes, add a dash of Himalayan salt to RO water and stir.
For over twelve years, I have been researching the keys to good health, and pure, clean water has always been a the common thread. For my next post, I will share with you more tips on how to ensure you and your family have the water that is essential to your longevity and health.