Everyone wants their home to be clean, but if you’re using synthetic cleaners, you’re doing yourself and your family more harm than good. Most domestic cleaning products contain numerous toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, fluorine, glycol ether, naphtha, and kerosene, which are known neurotoxins and central nervous-system depressants.1 There are more than 100,000 different chemicals available on the market,2 and you’ll find some of the most deadly ones under your sink. Though many bottles under your sink are labeled “caution” or “poison,” manufacturers are not required to warn consumers about several known respiratory irritants, carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and neurotoxins associated with chronic and long-term effects.3
If a fear of germs drives you to cover the surface of your home with antibacterial soap and toxins, remember that they can easily be absorbed into your pores and lungs where they can be circulated throughout the rest of your body. Any product formulated to be completely sterilizing has to break down organic matter such as germs, and it will do the same to the cells of your body. That harsh chemical smell burns your nose for a reason.
Even if you wear gloves and open a few windows while using these harsh cleaners, the product still remains on whatever surface you cleaned; when you walk barefoot on your freshly polished wood floors or take a bath in your thoroughly sanitized tub, you are still absorbing every bit of those toxins. Many scientists have concluded that household cleaners are the most significant source of indoor air pollution, and a serious detriment to human health.4 In most cases you will not notice the negative effects of these chemicals immediately unless you ingest them, but they bioaccumulate in your organs and body fat where they can gradually do long-term damage.
For example, triclosan is usually found in products labeled as antibacterial, such as hand or dish soap. It’s also used in some shaving creams, toothpastes, trash bags, and various other household products. The problem is that every time you wash your hands or brush your teeth with one of these products, the triclosan is absorbed into your pores and is eliminated from the body slowly, allowing it to accumulate to dangerous levels over time.
Just as triclosan builds up in your body, it also accumulates in the environment each time you let that antibacterial dish soap run down the drain. Though the long-term effects are difficult to predict, studies have already shown that triclosan, even in low doses, is an endocrine disruptor in the North American bullfrog.5
Another possible danger of antibacterial products is the inadvertent creation of resistant strains of bacteria. You are much better off staying away from these synthetic products that only add harmful toxins to your home and encourage the growth of dangerous superbugs. What’s worse, despite all these risks, it has been found that people who use antibacterial soap are not reducing their chances to contract viral diseases such as the cold and flu. Our need for clean isn’t worth the risks.
1 Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton, Toxic Overload (New York, NY: Avery, 2005).
2 WWF and Greenpeace, “A Present for Life: Hazardous Chemicals in Umbilical Cord Blood” (2005). Page 7.
3 Christopher Gavigan, Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home (New York, NY: Plume, 2009).
4 Patricia Thomas, What’s in This Stuff? The Hidden Toxins in Everyday Products and What You Can Do About Them (2008). Page 156.
5 Nik Veldhoen, Rachel C. Skirrow, Heather Osachoff, Heidi Wigmore, David J. Clapson, Mark P. Gunderson, Graham Van Aggelen, Caren C. Helbing. “The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development.” Aquatic Toxicology (December 2006).
6 “Using Essential Oils to Clean and Disinfect.” Housekeeping Matters. http://housekeepingmatters.com/using-essential-oils-to-clean-and-disinfect/
7 Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home (New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004). Page 120.