Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Guest Blogger, Katerina Gmitter, Founder of EcoThriver.com
How green and clean is your cleaning routine? Did you know that conventional cleaners can introduce hundreds of chemicals into your home? Did you know that there is no FDA approval needed on many of the chemicals in cleaning products? Due to trade secrets companies do not need to disclose their full ingredient list. This allows hundreds of chemical compounds to be included in one ingredient, fragrance or parfum.
Why does it matter? Many cleaning supplies and household products can cause irritation of skin, eyes, or throat, cause headaches, cancer, and other health problems. Many products contain volatile organic compounds that are harmful and when inhaled. This includes air fresheners, fabric softeners, scented laundry detergent, ammonia and bleach (found in many cleaners including dishwashing detergents). Did you know there are ingredients used in the U.S. that are banned in European countries due to their toxicity?
This January I celebrate 9 years of cancer survivorship! When our family first decided to go “eco” and “nontoxic” I was beyond overwhelmed. I just finished treatment including a double mastectomy and 6 months of chemotherapy. I met with a nutritionist (helpful) and a cancer survivorship “guru” (not helpful) who literally was on my living room floor simulating how to give myself a coffee enema. That is when I delved into my own research on how to eliminate household toxins, live a cleaner and greener life, how to reduce my personal risk of recurrence and raise healthier kids.
By going green with your cleaning routine, you are improving your indoor air quality, your health, your lungs, your energy. Toxins from conventional cleaners (like formaldehyde) get into the air, sit on surfaces (including glassware and dishes) and are absorbed through your skin. Cleaning was actually one of the later healthy changes we made because I felt it was so overwhelming how to decide what to choose.
I grew up with conventional store-bought cleaners and their smell told my brain the house was clean. My brain used to recognize the smell of bleach, Windex and Pledge as “clean”.
Now my brain recognizes that clean doesn’t have a scent, and if it does it is a lingering vinegar scent or the scent of fresh lemons.
How do you start greening your cleaners? Terms like “natural” and “safe” are overused and greenwashing is a large problem.
Here are some steps to follow:
1. Read ingredients; if ingredients aren’t listed do not buy it! Products claim to be safe and natural and they just aren’t.
2. Cleaners fall into 3 categories: worst, better, best You can use this guide to help you make educated choices: https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
3. Avoid fragrance in all your cleaning products (all products really!) If you really want a smell to your products you can add some lemon essential oil, lavender or grapefruit.
4. You can make your own cleaners! Here is a great resource: https://www.womensvoices.org/take-action-with-womens-voices/green-cleaning-parties/green-cleaning-recipes/ Had I known how it easy it was to make my own products, I would have started sooner!
My Green Cleaning Arsenal includes white distilled vinegar, peroxide, washing soda, and castile soap. I make a fantastic dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent! Vinegar and water is used to clean my floors, counters, and more. I have started teaching eco-cleaning classes as well! Empowering other women to live a cleaner and greener life is my passion.
The past 9 years of survivorship has brought out the best and worst of life. I have learned that healing is not linear and that small changes can have a large impact. Here's to making at least one small change that may lead to more!
Happy clean and green cleaning!