The Politics of Clean
I find it fascinating and yes, disturbing, when I look at all of the politics and greed that goes into the concept of ‘clean’. We want clean homes. That goes without saying. But at what cost?
The aisles of the grocery store are lined with products to clean your dishes, your floors, your cabinets, your glass, your toilets, your sinks, your furniture, your clothing and so much more. For now, we won’t even go into cleaning your face, your body and hair. How many people really stop to read the labels and even if they do, how many among us are chemists who can decode the actual language on the labels and what it represents?
In my opinion, EWG.org’s database is the most helpful of all one-stop web sites when it comes to deciding if a product is harmful. I do wish they would put out a cleaning products app for phones. They have one for food which is helpful, though. So it is left up to me to do my homework before I leave home. I highly recommend EWG, though. They’re one of the great watchdogs out there between us and the governments, chemical companies and other entities that really do not care about our health.
Cleaning products can contain dangerous toxins and poisons. They can harm your home and they can harm you. Simply inhaling some products can make you ill on the spot. Oddly enough, many people don’t think of their skin as a source of exposure but the truth is, whatever you touch will go internal almost immediately. Thus it is important to keep most household cleaning items away from your skin.
As with GMOs and other toxins, the producers of these products will go to great lengths to keep you in the dark as to the dangers that go hand-in-hand with their products. But then, hey, these are chemical companies the same as Montsanto and Dow and other well-known dangerous corporations.
Our politicians in Washington are constantly in contact with chemical company lobbyists who go to great lengths to circumvent proper labeling. These politicians have the power to stop labeling bills or to add pork to important labeling legislation in order to do as their ‘lobbyist’ handlers ask. The truth is, there is very little that you can trust about most all of our household products.
The chemical companies really try hard to win you over, though. Trusting a product has nothing to do with it’s beautiful clear blue color or the pleasing shape of the bottle or for that matter, even the scent. A case in point? Glade! This collection of air freshening products is about as toxic as it comes! S C Johnson and Company is the owner and while claiming total transparency, they are far from transparent and even downright dishonest.
Now, when you mix a toxic cocktail of these poisonous cleaning ingredients, your home becomes a sealed chamber of chemicals that can harm, even kill you, your family and your pets. Yet none of the pretty labels in the cleaning aisle give a hint as to the true dangers within.
SO, I go for the safe alternatives. I like using vinegar whenever possible. It is the best glass cleaner around. My mom had us clean our own bedroom windows regularly with vinegar and water and newspaper. It is also good for floors, glassware, counters, coffee carafes and other kitchen utensils. My husband uses the classic vinegar / water / newspaper combo to clean windows on the car.
When it comes to laundry, I go straight to EWG’s list. Just look at how many truly dangerous detergents are sold. And remember, when you use these detergents, you are putting these chemicals right next to your skin! I have been using Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent, HE Elite Care, Lavender for quite some years now. It is ‘A’ rated and I have to admit, I’m a lavender addict, even though I never end up smelling it on our clothing after using the vinegar. I chose this because it is fairly easy to obtain via Amazon. Our local stores have very few that are truly safe.
I buy the large jugs of white vinegar at the market and pour that into the fabric softener dispenser in my washing machine for all loads. It takes away any odors that could linger, it helps protect colors and it helps to rinse any soap residue that might remain. I never, EVER use laundry / dryer sheets or fabric softeners. They really are just money down the drain and often can break down the fibers in your fabrics so they don’t hold up as long. AND then there’s the toxic smell! I once lived next to a home where their dryer vent blew into our windows. (Thus another opportunity lost for fresh air.) They used the most sickening dryer sheets – and toxic too! Just for the fun of it, try Googling ‘DRYER SHEETS AND TOXIC’.
Some of the worst, most toxic items are the ones that are used most often in cleaning the home: bleach and Pinesol. It is really hard to pry those two items from the hands of any cleaning people you may have helping you, too! But it can be done. My Mom used Pinesol anytime we’d been vomiting so I automatically associate that horrid scent with nausea, thus any cleaning help I’ve ever had has been banned from ever using that.
Bleach is toxic to breathe, toxic for your skin and it really doesn’t do what you think it does. You think that bleach will get rid of mold, don’t you? Think again! It only gets whatever is on the surface, allowing the mold and mildew below to safely multiply out of site. If your fingers are exposed to bleach, your fingernails will loosen from the nail beds. You can get chemical burns on your skin with bleach. The list goes on and on. There are far better alternatives out there.
For instance, the best thing for heavy mold and mildew is industrial strength (30%) Hydrogen Peroxide. Of course, you’d want to wear gloves to prevent a chemical burn, but this is a very effective and ultimately, very safe way to get rid of serious problems. Also, you can add the usual 3% strength to a spray bottle with some water to spray surfaces to prevent mold as well. (Don’t forget to protect any colored fabric nearby and test an inconspicuous area if using on fabrics.)
Now that I’m mentioning hydrogen peroxide, I have also found it helpful to remove small blood stains on white rugs or fabrics. The first choice for blood though, is the saliva of the person or pet who bled. Yup, it is hard to get my cat to spit on a spot she left where she hurt the pad of her foot, so that’s when the hydrogen peroxide comes to the rescue. The first time my husband got a bit of blood from a cut on the sheets, I told him to spit on it. He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind! But indeed, it broke up on the spot, and then disappeared in the laundry. The enzymes in your own saliva will break down the enzymes in your blood stains. I learned this little trick in the early 80’s when I was taking a smocking class. It’s easy to prick your finger and drop a bit of blood on an intricate white piece of fabric and the person teaching the class clued us in on the saliva trick. I’ve used it ever since.
My mantra “READ THE LABELS” holds true for your cleaning products. When that is not possible, if information is missing or if you need additional help, go to EWG.org. A sparkling clean home does you no good if it’s toxic.