Clean Up Your Act

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Hello lovelies! I’m sorry that it has been a while since my last post. However, it is with good cause as I have started a wonderful new job! If you couldn’t tell by this entire blog, I’m a little obsessed with exposure analysis and how the chemicals we put on and around us affect our lives (okay, I’m a lot obsessed). Well my new position is with a company called Awair that measures the chemicals, dust, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide in your air and then makes recommendations for how to improve your air quality. You can choose whether to focus your air quality so that you are more productive, sleep better, have fewer allergy/asthma/eczema symptoms, promote the health of a baby in your household, or generally live healthier. Pretty much the perfect company to be at and I couldn’t be happier.

On that line of thought, in this post I’m going to tackle all-purpose cleaners. So here is the problem with household cleaners: it’s really hard to know what is in them. As noted by, federal law does not mandate that cleaning products list their ingredients. This makes finding healthy products challenging, but luckily EWG has done a lot of the research for us (and thusly were my main source of information for this post).

Here are some things to avoid:

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Here are some problematic marketing terms that are used for cleansers:

  • Biodegradable: this term is not regulated, so often these contain similar ingredients to other cleaners.
  • Natural/Plant-based: this term is also not regulated. It can mean a variety of things depending on the company using the term, and does not necessarily mean the product is healthier.
  • Non-toxic: there is no standard definition of non-toxic in the cleaning product industry so this isn’t a guarantee of the product being healthy.
  • Organic: unless it has the US Department of Agriculture’s “Certified Organic” label, it doesn’t mean much. Many chemicals are classified as organic (flashbacks to organic chemistry) and thusly they can call themselves organic without lying, but with the intention to mislead.

Here is what to look for (hopefully this will expand as regulations get stricter):

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Here is my suggestion for determining if the products you already have are okay:

Go to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning and search your product- they’ll give it a grade from A to F. Unfortunately, I found out that a LOT of mine were quite unhealthy. Luckily I have recommendations for products below and you can also look at EWG’s list of products with an A grade and select from those as well.

Additionally there are a lot of DIY natural cleaners. Equal parts water and vinegar makes a great all purpose cleaner (the vinegar smell doesn’t linger long if you ventilate). Baking soda is also a great cleaner and can be used to remove grime and scrub surfaces. I’m sure a lot of you have it in your fridge as well because it is great at absorbing odors. Reducing odors can help you kick your air freshener habit. There are a lot of great natural cleaner recipes out there, just be wary of those involving Borax– it’s not as innocuous as it appears.

What should you buy?

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Don’t worry, I have to do an overhaul on my cleaners too. Let me know if you need me to check any of your cleaners for you or if you have any topic requests for my next post!

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