Reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals in your home until it is naturally clean. You don't need chemicals and fragrances to do that. We have been conditioned to think our homes have to "smell clean", but clean does not have a smell.
Manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to list the ingredients in their products, or test them, so we have no idea what chemicals we are subjecting our families to. Isn't it ironic that everyday cleaners that are supposed to get rid of the bad stuff like germs and bacteria say "Danger" or "Poison" on the container? Some of these cleaners contain chemicals that have been shown to cause liver and kidney damage, birth defects in animals, testicular damage, reduced fertility, and asthma symptoms to name a few.
How to Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Your Home
Chemicals are part of our lives. We treat illnesses, paint our houses, and even clothe ourselves with products that have been developed through chemical research. However, there are reasons to be cautious about our exposure to some chemicals.
From the foods we eat to how we maintain our yards and clean our homes, we can be exposed to chemicals in many ways. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only a fraction of the more than 75,000 registered chemicals have gone through complete testing for human health concerns. Some chemicals have immediate toxic effects. Others are toxic to our bodies only after repeated, long-term exposure.
Children are especially susceptible to the negative effects of chemicals, warns the EPA. Pound for pound, children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food, and when they play, they crawl and put things in their mouths. As a result, children have an increased chance of exposure to potential pollutants, and because children's bodies are still developing, they may process these pollutants differently from adults. Nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, should also take precautions.
A good principle to follow is always to look for ways to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals as we go about our daily lives, to keep our homes naturally clean and safe for our children, our pets, and us. Simple changes in our everyday routines can reduce our long-term exposures to low levels of potentially harmful substances, changes in how we choose the products we buy, or the way we clean our houses and take care of our yard. These changes will not only make our homes safer, they may also save us money.
Studies have shown that levels of harmful chemicals in indoor air may exceed the standards set by the EPA to protect us from harmful chemicals. The EPA has found that the levels of organic pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher inside our homes than outside. You can avoid such levels in your home by buying and using products that are free of toxic chemicals whenever possible. The market for non-toxic household products is growing in response to customer demand. You can also make your own naturally clean products very inexpensively.
• When purchasing products, take a minute to read the label. Ingredient lists don't always tell you everything that is in a product but they can offer clues to the toxicity. Look for products that appear to disclose all their ingredients. "Signal words" will help you spot ingredients that are harmful: CAUTION, WARNING, DANGER, and POISON ("CAUTION" is least hazardous and "DANGER" is most hazardous; extremely toxic products must also include the word "POISON"). Choose the least-hazardous product to do the job.
Keeping Your House Clean - Naturally Clean
Remove your shoes when you enter your house. Your shoes can track in harmful amounts of pesticides, lead, cadmium and other chemicals. Keeping a floor mat at your doors for people to wipe their feet on when they enter will also help.
Vacuum carpets and floors regularly. Children playing on your carpet may actually be more exposed to pesticides lodged in the carpet than from the outside, because pesticides break down less readily indoors than outdoors in the sunlight. Use a fine particulate filter, such as a HEPA filter, in your vacuum cleaner, if possible. Otherwise, the dust vacuumed up is redistributed into the air where it can be inhaled.
Single-ingredient, common household materials such as baking soda, vinegar, or plant-based soaps and detergents can often do the job on your carpet or other surfaces. Soap and water has been shown to keep surfaces as free of bacteria as antibacterial soaps do. If your carpet needs professional cleaning, enlist a carpet service that uses less-toxic cleaners that are low in VOCs and irritants.
• Baking soda works well to clean sinks, tubs and toilets, and it freshens drains as well.
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