Clean Spring Cleaning (Part Four)
Just to review: there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household products.
Neither ingredients nor products need to meet any sort of safety standard, nor is any testing data or notification required before bringing a product to market.
The average household contains more than 60 toxic chemicals. Manufacturers argue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem, but that claim is not supported by research. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity.
A study that was recently published in The American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found the regular use of cleaning sprays has an impact on lung health comparable with smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.
When you spray a cleaner like Windex or your favorite commercially produced kitchen spray, the product doesn't just go where you can see you've applied it- it lives in the air of your house. At the hospital where I work cleaners cannot be sprayed to reduce harm associated with incidental inhalation.
Many window cleaners contain an ingredient called 2-Butoxyethanol. This glycol ether (think powerful solvent), provides their characteristic sweet smell. Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label. According to the EPA’s Web site, in addition to causing sore throats when inhaled, at high levels glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Although the EPA sets a standard on 2-butoxyethanol for workplace safety, if you’re cleaning at home in a confined area, like a bathroom, you can actually end up getting 2-butoxyethanol in the air at levels that are higher than industrial workplace safety standards. And I bet you're not using eye protection either.
The strangest part of all of this is we don't even need chemicals to clean our windows, mirrors, shower doors, glass tables, crystal, granite countertops, jewelry, brushed and stainless steel, chrome, knickknacks, patio tables and any other shiny surface not previously mentioned. All that's required is water and a microfiber cloth. (Okay it's not that strange, Windex was first introduced in 1933 and has the powerful S.C. Johnson company behind it while microfiber cleaning cloths didn't really take off until the 1990s but...)
If making your own cleaning products seems too hippie or scary or time-consuming, just please to commit to this one change. Not only is water infinitely safer than unregulated chemicals, using a microfiber cloth eliminates the need for paper-towels. (If it doesn't seem too scary, go back to this post).
I recommend the Norwex Window Cloth. It works. Really really well. Our storm door is so crystal clear the dog tries to walk through it. BacLock, the micro silver agent in the cloth, goes to work with self-purification properties against mold, fungi and bacterial odor within 24 hours so that it is ready to use again. It doesn't leave any dust like paper-towels sometimes will and I can let my always-ready-to-help toddler use it too.
You can read the lung health study here.
Find health and safety information on household products here.
Purchase Norwex Window Cloth here.
P.S. I don't sell Norwex or have any affiliation with the company except as a satisfied customer.