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Main » Articles » ISSUE #4 » Ecology

Clean means healthy


Being a mother (for 5 years) and a housewife (from times to times), I often face the problem of cleaning the house. Even if I don’t want to perform this chore I have to (alas!). Naturally I use a range of household chemicals to do the washing up and to clean the toilets, to remove stains and to freshen air. Most of us do.

 We all like the immediate effect when stains and grease disappear easily. Some time ago I couldn’t but think of all the consequences of the chemicals usage. They make our houses clean, do they make it safe? It’s already not a secret, they don’t. I realized once that my family breathes the chemicals, that the substances stay on the surfaces we touch with our hands, lips, etc. Moreover, toxic chemicals can go down the drain and come back through the tap.
The water purification system is usually unable to remove all impurities. As soon as got concerned about it I made a little research and found out some facts about household chemicals.


1.           The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning about early exposure to chemicals during childhood and one of the main sources is household cleaning products. Chemicals in household products can expose vulnerable people to symptoms including allergies and fatigue, doctors have warned.

2.          Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Methanol and Ethylbenzene  may damage the nervous system, fetuses and can cause cancer. They are in oven cleaners, disinfectants, detergents, toilet, tub and tile cleaners, metal polishes, drain openers, adhesives, paints and finishes. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer in people. It is in air fresheners, antibacterial dish detergents and carpet cleaners.

3.          Even holding a cloth soaked in a cleaner in our hand means that our skin is absorbing that chemical into our system via our hands. Our skin absorbes 60 per cent of what we put on it. Every time you come into contact with household chemicals via your skin you are absorbing them.


In fact you are likely to know people who are absolutely obsessed with cleanliness – this is not crime, of course, but if you could only see what huge amount of detergents and cleaning powders, stain removers and bleach they use! (My next door neighbor actually shops weekly for tons of them.) Most household chemicals have warnings on the bottles and it is this warning that tells us of the toxicity and danger of the product. If it was not doing us harm, that warning would simply not be there!

Do we really need household chemicals? Well, tasks may be a bit more labour intensive as household chemicals make it easy for us to clean things like ovens, drains and toilets quickly by just pouring a toxic substance and letting it do its work. Then what should we do?


There are at least two possible ways out to reduce negative effects and make your cleaning green:


Firstly, use alternatives for household chemicals, a number of which are recommended by plenty of articles (your mum’s and grandma’s tips could be extremely handy). They are good old:

1.           Baking soda. That is really an all purpose cleaner. You can use it to clean ovens and toilets, to deodorize (for example a trash can) and to remove spots.

2.          Regular soap. The fact is that regular soap kills 99.4 percent of germs. Antibacterial soap kills 99.6 percent. Some time ago I was out of the cleaning paste for the stove and to my surprise, the recommended mixture of soap and soda (applied on a warm surface) worked well. I still use that recipe.

3.          Vinegar. Removes grease, prevents mould formation, cleans windows and floors. You can use it for cleaning the floors and toilets and glass. It cuts grease, removes stains and cleans drains, kill mold and mildew.

4.          Lavender and tea tree oils. They deodorize and disinfect. You can make a spray of water and some drops of oil and spray on surfaces.


Secondly, use products with environmentally-friendly biodegradable ingredients. They don’t contain chemically-reactive and toxic cleaning ingredients. More and more brands of healthy cleaning products enter the market and compete for the space in your kitchens and bathrooms.


If you still use chemical cleaning products those tips are for you:

 1.     Remember it is often not necessary to use as much as directed on the package. It can be a good step on the way to the

2.    Never mix them;

3.    Wear gloves;

4.    Always use and store them as instructed;

5.    Ensure the area is well ventilated during and after cleaning;

6.    Rinse, remove and properly store the cleaning equipment such as sponges, rags or buckets;


Still not sure if you have to give up all your magical bottles that work wonders in your house? Then here are some interesting factoids from the USA:


1.     In the past 40 years, at least 70,000 new chemicals have been released into the environment through new consumer and industrial products and food.

2.    Male and female infertility are on the rise. Research is now pointing to pesticides as a viable cause.

3.    Women who work in the home have a 54% higher death rate than women who work out of the home. - Toronto Indoor Air Conference, 1990

4.    Each year more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US, costing the health care system $18 billion annually. The prevalence of allergic rhinitis (inflamed nasal membranes) has increased substantially over the past 15 years.

5.    Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 14.9 million persons.

6.    According to the U.S Poison Control Centers, "A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds and more than 50% of all poisonings occur at home with children under 5 years of age."

7.    Asthma is the #1 cause of absenteeism in schools.

8.    There has been a 25% increase in the last 25 years in cancer incidence among children under 15 years of age.

9.    Thirty years ago the 3 major childhood illnesses were chickenpox, measles and mumps. Now it is asthma, ADD (attention deficit disorder)and cancer.

10.Brain cancer in children is up 40% in 20 years.


 All in all it’s time to contemplate over your every step because the environmental issues prove that what we do influences the earth, every blow tells. Choose your way of healthy and green cleaning and be aware that everything you do contributes to our planet’s health, so everyone’s decision matters. 

Category: Ecology | Added by: gretagolden73 (25-Nov-2011) | Author: Ekaterina Piksayeva
Views: 1148 | Comments: 3 | Tags: healthy lifestyle, alternative detergents, detergents | Rating: 5.0/6
Total comments: 3
3 gretagolden73  
Katya! Thanks a lot for the article. I'm also concerned about this issue and trying to avoid strong chemicals in detergents. BTW, a while ago when I was sorting out the mess in the bathroom , I realized that I had plenty of bottles with shampoo and shower gel remnants that I didn't use anymore but something stopped me from throwing them away. Finally I had an idea! I mixed all that stuff in a big (1 litre) bottle and added some soda and vodka. Voila! It works, it's quite good at washing the floor, carpets and walls in the bathroom! And the smell is perfect)

2 ageres  
The most important thing to be added to the mixture is vodka! If you don't add it, the whole stuff will, definitely go to pot!

1 Larisa  
I've recently heard about an experiment with all that washing and cleaning stuff. They compared a universal disinfector with a set of cleaning agents each for a definite purpose. As it turned out, this multifunctional detergent had the better result.
It is not about being better off without all chemicals but at least it is about getting around without large amounts of them.

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