With Spring’s arrival you are probably thinking about spring cleaning your home, but have you thought about spring cleaning your cleaning. We use a lot of detergents and disinfectants to clean our homes, hoping they will speed up the cleaning process, by removing all the dirt, stains and bacteria, but we don’t give much thought to what we may be coming in contact with or what we may be leaving behind. And that is only the cleaners we use on hard surfaces around the home, but what about the soap, the cleansers and cosmetics we apply to our own bodies? Do you know what is really in them?
Over the next few weeks I am going to create summary sheets about the chemicals and unhealthy ingredients that can be found in your household items and in the products your use for personal hygiene. It might help you decide on what products to buy and not to buy. Also, it will help you to Spring clean your cleaning, as well as remove some toxins from your home.
You wake up in the morning, and head to the shower to clean yourself (and for many it is the place to wake up). After towelling off you might use some deodorant, apply a moisturiser and then brush your teeth. Feeling squeaky clean! Are you sure?
Now read the labels of what you have been using:
Parabens are preservatives used in products to prevent bacteria growth. They are found in a lot of our personal-care products and cosmetics. Some studies have suggested that parabens disrupt the oestrogen and may cause breast cancer, while other studies suggest a weak effect on oestrogen. Although the studies are not conclusive, it is probably best to avoid products containing these preservatives. Overtime these parabens are building up in our body directly from the cosmetics and hygiene products, but also indirectly as we pour so much of these chemicals down the sink and into our waterways.
EDTA called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, is use in personal care products and in cosmetics, but particularly in soaps and cleansers. As it cleans away dirt, the EDTA attracts metal ions that are usually found in hard water, ensuring the cleanser is effective (suds up). Although EDTA is regarded as safe to use, a small percentage of the population may be sensitive to this chemical. Also, EDTA ends up in the waterways concentrating the heavy metals levels to marine life. This creates a toxic environment for the fish, that will eventually end up on our table.
Triclosan is a pesticide found in many hand sanitisers, antibacterial soaps and toothpaste. What is frightening is that it has been linked to liver toxicity, inhalation difficulties and even low levels may disrupt thyroid function. It amazes me how many people carry small packs of sanitiser around in their handbags to have on hand and even use it on their kids, especially when scientific bodies like the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan should not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (commonly known as SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) along with Ammonium Laurel Sulphate (ALS) are widely used in many personal hygiene products such as shampoos, toothpastes, mouthwashes, body wash, soaps, detergents and body wash. These sulphates are surfactants allowing many of these products to lather up. Some studies are suggesting they are carcinogenic, while others say they are safe to use. However, it is commonly used as a pesticide to kill plants and insects, which might explain why it is a known skin irritant. It pollutes our groundwater and is toxic to marine life and if not filtered correctly it can get into our drinking water.
Aluminium based compounds
Aluminium-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. They work by blocking the sweat glands to prevent sweat from getting to the skin’s surface. Some studies have shown that these compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Like parabens, studies are continuing to determine if there is a link between aluminium-based compounds and breast cancer.
Other toxic chemicals
Many television advertisements love showing us that we need to freshen our homes or we need to wear the latest deodorant that will make us very attractive. Most of these air fresheners and deodorants are mainly delivered by aerosol propellant, which should be avoided at all costs as they contain many nasty chemicals. Do you really want to be sniffing formaldehyde, petroleum distillates or even 1,4 dichlorobenzene? They are added to many air fresheners to neutralize offensive odours and are often used in conjunction with a fragrance (often artificial) to resemble the outdoors. TEA and DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine) adjust the pH in deodorants and antiperspirants. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects. So why are we using them?
SO WHAT TO DO NEXT
Knowing what ingredients to avoid is important and avoiding them can have a huge effect on your health and the environment, but identifying safer alternatives is an equally as important.
Look for organic/natural alternatives. It is worth knowing that over 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies. So the more natural a product is the better, but remember marketed “Natural” doesn’t necessary mean the product is natural, so you need to read the ingredients.
Reduce your use. Do you really need to have all those products? Not only are they having an impact on your health and the environment, but also on your hip pocket.
Say No to fragrance and artificial colourings. Many can trigger allergies.
Ensure the packaging is non-toxic. Avoid plastics, where possible. Glass is best, but if you have to buy products in plastic, look for packaging containing recyclable plastic. Ensure it does not contain BPA or PVC (look for food grade plastic).
Make your own. You will definitely know what you are applying to yourself and your home.
If you are looking for some ideas have a wander through our shop. We have non-toxic alternatives for both the home (earthly passion for your home) and your family (earthly passion for you and earthly passion for your kids).
A word about Air Fresheners.
I can’t stand aerosol air fresheners. The idea of us breathing in all those chemicals is frightening. Rather than masking odours with an aerosol air freshener, why not absorb unwanted odours with baking soda. It was used by our grandparents to safely remove smells without any harm to the family. By adding a few drops of vanilla essence you can create a pleasant smell (great for the fridge). You could also try homemade potpourri, natural essential oils, burning bees wax candles or simmer lemon and orange peels with cloves to deliver a nice aroma in a room. Or even better open a window or door.
I hope this has been helpful. I will have more spring cleaning detoxing next week. I’m sure some of you have great ideas and natural alternatives for living. Please share, as you never know who you might help.
Don’t forget to crank up the music as you clean and be earthly passionate, Attracta & the earthly passion team.