When cleaning the household, we often don’t place as much emphasis as we should on our product selections. What does it matter anyway? Cleaning is cleaning, right?
What if I told you that the emissions from the various chemicals used within a multitude of household products are at the equivalent level of automobile emissions when it comes to air quality? It is a discomforting fact unless you enjoy simulating what it is like to huff exhaust fumes. Product selection should be important to you. Keep reading as the experts at Safe Green Cleaning educate more.
Making the Right Choice
So how do we go about making the safest choice for cleaning the home? The trick is to keep an eye out for volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s. VOC’s are tiny particles that can travel and take force themselves inside your lungs. These same microbial chemicals cause a plethora of nasty issues, such as eye irritation, nose irritation, wheezing, asthma attacks and respiratory infections. Even more disturbingly, there exists a link to possible long-term effects to kidneys, liver, the central nervous system and cancer.
With all these hazards, it is imperative to make the correct selection. Sadly, it is not as easy as taking a quick glance at the back of the product container. In many cases, the label on the product is devoid of such a list. Federal law does not require companies to provide such a warning.
Fortunately, California legislated SB 258: The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act. This law did create a nationwide directive that forced the organizations manufacturing cleaning supplies to provide ingredients contained within the fragrance.
Deciphering the Bad Labels
It doesn’t take a specialized degree to filter through the nuance surrounding the complicated language referencing the ingredients printed on the labels. We’re going to teach you what terms to look out for when making a selection. Listed below are common terms you’ll find on cleaning supplies.
These are actively bad for your health. Generally, these are antibacterial pesticides used to kill bacteria, viruses and mold. There are far safer alternatives to utilize. Anything with the above listing is not required to clean your house.
These are proteins, often mixed in with cleaners to break down soils and stains. These are natural, so it is easy to disregard them as safe. For example, a toxigenic chemical, boric acid, is commonly added to stabilize the enzymes. This combo is most hazardous when the reproductive system is exposed to it.
As the name implies, it can make fabrics appear brighter to the naked eye. Laundry detergent will utilize optical brightener. It can blanket the clothing being run through the washing machine. Optical brightener can also cling to the clothing even after a rinsing. This fact is relevant because the brightener chemical can also cause skin irritation.
Okay, something labelled organic has to be a safe pick, right? Sadly, this idea is not foolproof. Given there are no legal restrictions regarding the term organic, it pays to be skeptical. It is a loaded term which can mean a whole lot of nothing; a USDA Organic logo is the only safeguard to go off of when making a selection. The logo does create a legal imperative that makes the company bound to honor their claim of the item being organic. If the logo is absent, pick the product at your own risk.
A surfactant is a chemical compound used to loosen dirt and grease. They are necessary for cleaning. It is also true that some surfactants are safer than others. Certain surfactants are toxic to aquatic life, like nonylphenol ethoxylates, and are slow to decompose.
What Labels are Safe?
Given the list has been all negative, this question is inevitable. Fortunately, there exist safe selections. The terms you want to look for will say biodegradable, Green Seal / Ecologo, essential oils and free and clear of perfumes and dyes. Looking for these labels will help you make a safe selection for your household cleaning and avoid hazardous VOC’s.