Why Should I Switch to Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Products?

You Ask, We Answer: Why Should I Switch to Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Products?

You know the old adage: Home is where the heart is. These days, it’s also where the three meals a day are; where the classroom is; where the office is; where the entertainment happens. In addition, it’s where all the messes of our homebound life are—and with all this living, we’re doing a lot of cleaning. If you’ve been curious about the rise of non-toxic home cleaning products and wondered why you should make the switch, we’re here to break down the benefits of “green cleaning,” along with sharing a few of our favorites.

Say goodbye to ingredients that aggravate asthma and allergies

Wiping down countertops, mopping floors, cleaning fingerprints off of reflective surfaces: If you’ve been noticing the fumes from your cleaning products are starting to seem a bit “much” because you’re using them more, you’re not alone. Harsh chemicals—including fragrance—in conventional cleaning products can trigger asthma attacks, cause your allergies to flare up and irritate your skin.

In addition to heavy scents and strong cleaning agents, “quats,” or QACs, are quaternary ammonium compounds that exist in common everyday items like hand soaps, window cleaners, disinfectant wipes, baby products and more. QACs are used to kill viruses, bacteria and mold, but according to Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, have the potential “to cause serious and preventable health effects” that include, “contact dermatitis, triggering of asthma symptoms in people who already have asthma or new onset of asthma in people with no prior asthma, eye and mucous membrane injuries from splashes or direct contact with mists, and oral and gastrointestinal injuries from swallowing solutions containing QACs.”

Quats also linger on surfaces for a long time after the product evaporates, further complicating their use and the possibility for irritation. Ingredients listed as benzalkonium chlorides, names that end in “ammonium chloride” or say “antibacterial” and “antimicrobial” are indicators of QACs in your products.

Skin irritation can also occur when cleaning with conventional products. Though the popular ingredient triclosan (TSC) that appeared in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers has been banned by many brands for its effects on the skin and increased allergy sensitivity, triclocarban (TCC) may still be used in items like toothpaste, detergents or cosmetics. Check your labels on your home cleaning and personal care products to avoid these potential irritants.

Stay tough on dirt, be gentle on the environment

There’s nothing quite like the smell of bleached sheets, right? But while we’ve been conditioned to believe that bleach is the be all, end all of cleaning and laundry products, the long term effects of chlorine bleach in our waterways, and on our environment in general, is eye-popping. Chlorine-infused waste released en masse by manufacturers makes its way to water and creates dioxins. Dioxins are highly toxic to humans and to wildlife, and take years to break down. That threatens wildlife and our fish supply, but also the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Swapping out bleach for a cheap non-toxic option like hydrogen peroxide is a safer alternative. If you need to brighten your whites, Branch Basics Oxygen Boost works wonders. Try it with The Concentrate for a safe and non-toxic laundry detergent combo that works so well, you won’t miss the conventional stuff. Blueland also offers safer laundry and home cleaning options with a mission to cut back on plastic waste.

Non-toxic cleaning and disinfecting during COVID-19

Natural and non-toxic cleaning products have gotten a bad rap over the years for underperforming when we need them most, but today’s alternatives offer highly effective formulas that won’t harm your home, the environment or your family and pets. Multi-purpose cleaning products, wipes, dish soap and hand soap created without parabens, phthalates or harmful synthetic fragrances, like the plant-based options from L’Avant Collective and Branch Basics, clean as well as (or better!) than conventional products, all while being safe enough to use around your family and pets.

But what’s a homeowner to do when we need to not just clean, but disinfect, during a pandemic? If you have trusted conventional cleaning products that you’re not ready to throw out just yet, be sure to properly ventilate while using them: open windows and turn on fans. You no doubt have a mask handy these days, so put that on, along with latex gloves if you can. This will help protect your skin and lungs from irritation while using them. For a less irritating alternative, swapping out your brand-name cleaning wipes with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes (or using some with paper towels) will kill germs without the potential irritation from conventional cleaning products, and bonus: it’s a cheaper alternative!

If you’re interested in going the non-toxic route for your home cleaning products, Branch Basics offers a “Toss the Toxins” program to walk you through reading the labels on your products and disposing of them properly so they don’t harm the environment.

Whatever your reason for being curious about non-toxic cleaners, you don’t have to throw away everything you own all at once. Replacing existing conventional products as they run out is a great way to try new options without being wasteful, and you’ll find it’s much more affordable, as well. Today’s safer cleaning products can make tidying up and disinfecting (almost) enjoyable—and much more safe!—while we’re all doing everything from home.


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