There’s a reason green cleaning has gained traction over the last decade. Do you suffer from chronic headaches, skin irritation or allergies? While some of these symptoms can point to a deeper, internal root cause, they can also be a sign of too many toxins in your home. Think about it: We spend the most time in our living spaces. It’s where we eat, sleep, relax and recoup from the outside world. If it’s full of potentially hazardous chemicals, we’re soaking in a toxic soup every day.
A typical American comes in regular contact with some 6,000 chemicals and an untold number of potentially toxic substances on a less frequent basis. There are about 75,000 chemicals regularly manufactured and imported by U.S. industries, and we could be exposed to any number of them. Disturbingly, many of them have never been fully tested for safety.
And when it comes to our homes, we’ve often become so adapted to our environments that we don’t realize how much they affect us. We pop a pill when we get a headache or can’t stop sneezing, and we slather on some hydrocortisone or antibacterial cream when skin issues flare.
A culprit for some of these toxins may be your household cleaner. Most conventional cleaners are made with hazardous ingredients that are now being linked to developmental disorders, brain disorders, endocrine system disruption and cancer. But, never fear: You can detox your home, start fresh and improve your body’s toxic load!
How to Detox Your Home
The first place to start is getting rid of conventional cleaners that might contain toxic ingredients. Most are labeled with the signal words: CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER. Some are even labeled as HAZARDOUS WASTE, meaning they must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility and can cause injury if handled improperly—they not only pose a threat to people, but they also can harm the environment.
The second step? To replace your products with safer, nontoxic options. We’re getting there.
A Note about Greenwashing in Green Cleaning
Although there are many “nontoxic” and “natural” products available that are biodegradable and environmentally safe, many have their own toxic red flags. Ingredients in these “nontoxic” products may have potential for harm. For example, some of the most popular cleaning products that claim to be nontoxic actually have antibacterial ingredients that are EPA-registered pesticides. They may also have preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone, which are known skin irritants and are considered neurotoxic.
Toxic Red Flags: Ingredients to Avoid
- Phenoxyethanol: a preservative that is an endocrine disruptor, neurotoxin, skin and eye irritant; phenoxyethanol is an ethoxylated compound that may be contaminated with the carcinogenic toxin 1,4-Dioxane.
- Petroleum-based ingredients: an ending of “ol” or “ene” is likely an indication of a petroleum-based product or coal tar derivative (i.e. xylol, glycol, phenol, benzene, toulene, xylene).
- Potassium sorbate: preservative associated with skin and eye irritation.
- Sodium benzoate: preservative that has been associated with sensitivity issues.
- Synthetic parfum and fragrances: most are processed with solvents that have harmful VOCs; botanical fragrances must be extracted through distillation, not with solvents.
Green Cleaning Products to Look For
You want your cleaning products to be human-safe and plant-based. This helps protect immunocompromised individuals, young children and babies, as well as adults and pets! Here’s some great products we’d recommend:
Branch Basics: This simple, 100 percent natural and plant-based line is multipurpose, and contains absolutely no toxins. It’s safe for kiddos, pets, kitchens, windows, wood floors, showers, laundry, and more!
Force of Nature: This turns salt, water and vinegar into a powerful disinfectant that’s on the EPA’s List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. Read a full review here, but it’s a staple!
Dr. Bronner’s: An 18-in-1 pure-castile soap that is good for just about any cleaning task. Face, body, hair and food, dishes, laundry, mopping, pets—clean your house and body with no synthetic preservatives, detergents or foaming agents.
Bon Ami: This biodegradable scouring powder can be used for almost anything including the tough spots like keeping grout white, removing toilet, sink and bathtub stains, freshening up the inside of a microwave, removing the caked bits on pots and pans, cleaning scuff marks and finger prints off walls and more.
Puracy Stain Remover: This stuff WORKS. It’s a powerful stain remover that’s tough and you won’t need anything else. Love that they have refills available too, for an environmentally friendly component.
For a deep dive into detoxing any space, check out the Branch Basics Deep Cleaning Method.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.