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Spring Cleaning: Choosing Safe and Healthy Products

by Naturopathes de La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024 0 comments
Le Grand Ménage du Printemps : Choisir des Produits Sains et Sécuritaires - La Boite à Grains

Who doesn't feel like opening the windows, de-cluttering the house and cleaning up the accumulated dust this spring?

Before reaching for commercial cleaning products, however, it's important to be informed about their safety. Since some household products can be harmful, take the time to read ingredient lists and consider natural alternatives.

Because a healthy home starts with the products you use.

Why natural cleaning products?

Household products are used to remove allergens (dust mites, mold spores, pet dandruff), degrease, sanitize and scrub. However, many commercial household products can have major health side-effects. 1

According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), an independent nonprofit dedicated to protecting human and environmental health, commercial cleaning products with chemical agents can cause :

  • Asthma: Several scientific studies show that volatile compounds in household cleaners can cause respiratory illnesses and trigger asthma episodes, even in healthy individuals with no medical predisposition. This association is most frequently observed with the use of air fresheners, disinfectants, soaps, glass cleaners and furniture cleaners. 2,3
  • Cancer: Formaldehyde used in household products as a preservative is a recognized carcinogen by World Health Organization (WHO). Even though it is not listed as an ingredient, some companies use preservatives that release formaldehyde, which does not oblige them to list formaldehyde itself on the ingredients list. More research is needed to determine the direct link between the use of harmful household products and cancer, but some preliminary studies carried out on cohorts of women show that household products (especially air fresheners) increase the risk of breast cancer. 4
  • Reproductive problems: Some studies show that household products containing boric acid (Borax) and javelizers have disruptive effects on hormonal health. Listed side effects include reduced libido, testicular atrophy, reduced signs of ovulation and reduced fertility. 5
  • Allergies and irritations: Common household products containing solvents, fragrances and preservatives can cause allergic reactions. Although these reactions are rarely fatal, they are uncomfortable. Commonly reported discomforts include sore throat, headaches, watery eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, rhinitis, eczema and dermatitis. Anyone who lives, works or studies in an area cleaned by toxic household products is likely to develop these symptoms, following either brief or prolonged exposure. 6,7,8

Natural cleaning products: safe options

Some companies are dedicated to creating household products that are effective, yet healthy and safe.

Such is the case with Bio Vert, a Quebec-based company that manufactures biodegradable household products based on safe ingredients. The company offers a range of allergen- and chemical-free cleaning products. For your spring cleaning, try all-purpose cleaner with orange essential oil. 

To limit the need for spray bottles, the concentrated cleaner option is both practical and environmentally friendly. Laboratoires deMonceaux, the Quebec company that created the Écolo line, stands out with the phosphate-free all-purpose soap with wintergreen essential oil. This ultra-concentrated product is ideal for all kinds of household tasks, including cleaning bathrooms, floors, kitchens and surfaces. It disinfects naturally while scenting the air with its enchanting essential oil.

The Canadian company Nature Clean started a line of healthy, non-toxic household products to meet a family need. Since the 1960s, the company's directors have watched their father make natural household products following a series of severe allergic reactions their mother suffered. That's why ingredient safety and quality is a core value at Nature Clean.

Spring is also the time to clean those hard-to-reach places that tend to accumulate dirt. To do this, the degreasing cleaner from Pure will effectively remove grease and dirt. This all-purpose cleaner is ideal for degreasing appliances, range hoods, showers and bathtubs, tiles, sinks and much more.

Natural cleaning products: homemade recipes

To limit the risks associated with exposure to commercial household products, many people choose to make their own homemade cleaners. Some pantry ingredients have excellent cleaning power and are non-toxic.

White vinegar is an excellent disinfectant, deodorant and degreaser.

The baking soda is an excellent odor eliminator, stain remover and scouring agent. It can be made into a paste by adding a little water.

Citrus fruits are excellent degreasers, disinfectants and air fresheners. Their peel can be macerated in vinegar to make a concentrate.

Essential oils (EO) are often added to homemade cleaners to give them a pleasant fresh scent. The most popular are tea treetea tree palmarosaconifers and citrus fruits. Limonenes (compounds found in citrus EOs) should be avoided in cases of asthma or predisposition to a respiratory condition. 9

Happy spring cleaning & take care

About the author

Naturopaths of La Boite à Grains

Team of licensed and certified naturopaths (ND) in Gatineau, Outaouais.

Original article written by Véronique Cousineau, Naturopath

Sources

1: Mix Your Own Cleaning Solutions. Reviewed by Thanai Pongdee, MD. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

C: Dr The Safe Way to Clean Your House with Allergies, Asthma. Jennifer Van Evra. August 2013.

2: Zock JP, Plana E, Jarvis D, Anto JM, Kromhout H, Kennedy SM, et al. 2007. The use of household cleaning sprays and adult asthma: an international longitudinal study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 176(8): 735-741.

3: AOEC (Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics). 2012. Asthmagen compilation - AEOC exposures codes. www.aoec.org

4: EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2010. Toxicological Review of 1,4-Dioxane (CAS No. 123-91-1) in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. August 2010.

5: EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2006. Boric Acid/Sodium Borate Salts: HED Chapter of the Tolerance Reassessment Eligibility Decision Document (TRED). PC Codes: 011001 (boric acid), 011102 (sodium tetraborate decahydrate), 011110 (sodium tetraborate pentahydrate), 011112 (sodium tetraborate anhydrous), 011103 (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate), 011107 (disodium octaborate anhydrous), 011104 (sodium metaborate).

6: Chipinda I, Hettick JM, Siegel PD. 2011. Haptenation: chemical reactivity and protein binding. Journal of Allergy 2011: 839682.

7: Magnano M, Silvani S, Vincenzi C, Nino M, Tosti A. 2009. Contact allergens and irritants in household washing and cleaning products. Contact Dermatitis 61(6): 337-341.

8: Pechter E, Azaroff LS, Lopez I, Goldstein-Gelb M. 2009. Reducing hazardous cleaning product use: a collaborative effort. Public Health Report 124 Suppl 1: 45-52.

9: Susan Tarlo, professor in the department of Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto.

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