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How Safe Are Our Cleaning Products?


It is important to keep our households and workplaces clean but do any of us actually stop to think about what chemicals are used in our commercial cleaning products?  These every day products have warning labels on them to say they are toxic and harmful to children and pets so we keep them out of their reach.  However, we usually wipe down a baby’s high chair tray after use, but there could still be residue left behind from that antibacterial agent you used, and since baby’s frequently put their fingers in their mouths, they could accidentally ingest it.  The same goes for placing them on the floor after you have cleaned it and it looks dry.  A curious baby could very well crawl over to that wet spot you didn’t see and unintentionally swallow the poisonous substance.  Because children’s bodies are smaller than adults their exposure levels are higher.


Puppies and kittens are also at risk of contamination because they explore the world through their mouths, as well as their eyes and ears.  We often wash the floor after they use it as their toilet, and if they lick it they could potentially get ill. Others who may suffer ill health after coming into contact with strong detergents are people with cancer, respiratory problems, the elderly or anyone with a weak immune system.  Toxins build up over time so you probably won’t notice the effects until years later.  In order to combat this problem, natural cleaning products are the way to go.  As well as being eco-friendly, they are also not hazardous to health and have a lighter odour.


Baking soda is powerful for removing grease and is effective as an anti-viral.

Castile soap  Tesco’s sell Dr Bronner’s range of castile soap and laundry detergent.  Castile soap is made from 100 percent plant oils and doesn’t contain any animal products or chemicals.

Vinegar Makes an excellent window and glass cleaner.

Lemon juice Contains anti-bacterial agents, smells fresh and erases mildew and mould.

Essential oils Adding an essential oil to your oil burner can act as a lovely natural air freshener. (Take care if you are pregnant or have epilepsy though as some oils are not safe for these conditions.)

To make a toilet scrub Pour ½ cup of baking soda and about 10 drops of tea tree essential oil into the toilet. Add ¼ cup of vinegar to the bowl and scrub away while the mixture fizzes.

To eradicate mildew Spray white vinegar on the area, leave it for 30 minutes, and then rinse with warm water and a sponge if necessary. You could also mix baking soda and liquid castile soap together, then scrub and rinse.

To get rid of soap scum Mix 1 part water with 1 part vinegar (and a few drops of essential oils in a spray bottle if you don’t like the smell of vinegar.) Spray and leave it for ten minutes, before wiping away.

To create a natural bleach Just mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20-30 drops of tea tree oil.

To make a hand soap Mix together liquid castile soap and water in a foaming soap dispenser. Fill about one fifth of the bottle with soap, and then top it off with water.

A lemon Sliced in half makes an effective sanitizer for cutting boards.  Just rub it on the surfaces and leave it for ten minutes before washing it away.

Dishwasher cleaner  Mix 1 cup of liquid castile soap and 1 cup of water (2 teaspoons of lemon juice optional) in a quarter-size glass jar. Add this to the dishwasher compartment and turn on.

To clean your fridge  Add ½ cup of baking soda to a bucket of hot water. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture and use it to wipe the fridge with it.

To make furniture polish Combine ¼ cup lemon juice with ½ cup olive oil.


Health risks of cleaning agents

Carcinogens cause cancer and can increase its growth.

Endocrine disruptors mimic human hormones, and can cause a multitude of problems such as  premature puberty, thyroid problems, reduced fertility, irregular menstruation, abnormal prostate size, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and some forms of cancer.

Neurotoxins affect brain activity and can cause headaches, memory loss and diminished intellect.

Pesticides are very harmful to our health as they are carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors.  They are fat soluble which means that they are hard to expel from the body.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are present in perfumes, deodorants, air fresheners and disinfectants.  They are carcinogenic and can cause toxins to form in the reproductive system and liver.

Phthalates are used as packaging for perfume, moisturizers, air fresheners etc.  They can cause thyroid disorders, birth defects, hormone and reproductive problems.

APE’S (Alkyl phenol ethoxylates) are found in disinfectants, sanitary towels, spermicides and nappies. They can cause problems with the endocrine system.

Formaldehyde is a germicide, bactericide and fungicide.  It is present in nail polish, disinfectants and many cleaning products.

Organochlorines (OC’s) are usually present in pesticides, bleaches, de-greasers and detergents.

Styrene is made from the styrax tree. It used to make plastic food wrap and cups, PVC piping, floor wax and polishes.   It can cause liver, reproductive and central nervous system problems.

Symptoms of chemical exposure


Aches and pains

Nausea/ diarrhea

Asthma or allergy attacks


Memory loss


Premature puberty

Low sperm count

Reduced motor skills

Mood swings




Birth defects

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