For the longest time, many of us used typical household cleaning products without thinking twice about what nasty chemicals we might be adding to our indoor air. (Perhaps a hint was how many of us had to hold our breath when cleaning!) Turns out, most household cleaning products are full of irritants that you don’t want to breathe or get on your skin.
Whether you love cleaning or not, it’s something we all to do keep our homes looking nice and feeling comfortable and we want to know we’re making our environment safer and cleaner. But cleaning with toxic chemicals actually adds pollutants to our home, so perhaps we’re eliminating bacteria but the trade-off is adding irritants and carcinogens to our environment. With non-toxic cleaning products you can keep your surfaces and air clean and safe!
Honest is continuously expanding its line of cleaning products. For those of us who enjoy cleaning (or at least enjoy lounging in a clean house when we’re done!), we’ve come up with some non-toxic DIY solutions, too.
But first, let’s break down some of the harmful ingredients in the most popular cleaners:
The nasty chemicals in typical cleaning products include fragrances (serious toxins!), VOCs, dyes, formaldehyde, and many more substances that are harmful to humans and the environment. Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned an independent study of 20 popular cleaning products from five companies. The analysis shows there were harmful chemicals in many of these products, and sometimes the manufacturer didn’t even list those chemicals on the product (like allergens in fragrance-free products). Check out what else is in some popular cleaning products:
Popular glass cleaners may contain:
2-Hexoxyethanol- A cleaning agent link to central nervous system depression and is an upper respiratory irritant.
Sodium C14-17 Sec-Alkyl Sulfonate- A wetting agent that is hazardous to the environment and an irritant to skin and eyes.
2-Butoxyethanol- Confirmed animal carcinogen. Irritant for human’s eyes, skin, and lungs.
Popular all-purpose sprays may contain:
Phthalates – Even at very low doses, phthalates can cause hormone disruption and reproductive harm including birth defects.
Toluene – Toluene exposure has been linked to pregnancy complications, birth defects and developmental delays in children.
Ethanolamine – Human skin and respiratory irritant. Limited evidence of gastrointestinal or liver toxicity.
Popular wood polish/oil may contain:
Trisodium NTA – This corrosive substance causes injury to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It’s a possible human carcinogen.
Formaldehyde – Known human carcinogen. Respiratory and skin allergen.
Considering what you now know about all the nasty chemicals in typical cleaning products, we bet you’re eager to swap those old cleaners out with new, non-toxic ones. Give your cleaning supplies cabinet a makeover with safe products like the ones below in this cleaning makeover guide.
Instead of typical glass cleaner use:
Honest Glass + Window Cleaner contains: water, alcohol denat. (corn-derived solvent), caprylyl/myristyl, glucoside (plant-based surfactant), acetic acid (plant-based vinegar).
(You can read about the ingredients we use, as well as some we don’t, and why in our Ingredients 101 series every Wednesday.)
Instead of typical dish washing soap use:
Honest Dish Soap contains: purified water, cocamidopropyl betaine (coconut-based cleanser), sodium coco-sulfate (coconut-based cleanser), cocamidopropylamine oxide (coconut-based cleanser), phenoxyethanol (pH-sensitive preservative), methylisothiazolinone (preservative), litsea cubeba oil, citrus limonum (lemon) peel oil, canarium luzonicum gum oil.
Instead of typical all-purpose cleaner use:
Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner contains: Purified water, sodium coco sulfate (coconut-based cleanser), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), phenoxyethanol (pH-sensitive preservative), citrus grandis oil (N.O.P. certified organic grapefruit oil), PPG-4 laureth/Myreth-5 (coconut-based cleanser), alcohol (fermented from corn sugars), methylisothiazolinone (preservative).
Instead of typical toilet cleaner use:
Honest Toilet Cleaner contains: Water, citric acid (plant-based pH regulator), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), gluconic acid (plant-based pH regulator), xanthan gum (natural viscosity enhancer), potassium sorbate (plant-based preservative), lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil.
Instead of typical bathroom cleaner use:
Honest Bathroom Cleaner contains: water, ethyl alcohol (fermented from corn sugar), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), sodium gluconate (plant-based water-softener), sodium citrate (plant-based water-softener), potassium sorbate (plant-based preservative), citric acid (plant- based pH regulator), aloe barbadensis (aloe) leaf juice, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil, mentha arvensis (wild mint) leaf oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil.
You can also make your own cleaners with things in your pantry:
To remove mildew from a shower curtain, apply a paste of baking soda and a small amount of water, scrub with a brush.
To remove grease stains from cloth pour boiling water over the stain. For non-washable cloth, mix cornstarch, baking soda, and a small amount of water to form a paste. Apply to a grease stain and brush off when dry.
To naturally deodorize air without using a generic freshening spray, which typically contain all sorts of things you don’t want to breath, like phthalates and synthetic fragrances. In The Honest Life, Jessica Alba recommends mixing vodka with a few drops of essential oil and putting the mixture in a spray bottle. Vodka contains ethyl alcohol, which absorbs odors.
For alcohol, coffee, and tea stains, mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 1/3 cup water, dab onto stain with a clean rag and wipe off.
To remove a tough fabric stain or carpet stain try mixing our liquid laundry soap with water and using a clean toothbrush to scrub the stain out. Wipe clean with a wet cloth.
Clean copper pots with lemons and salt, or cover in ketchup and scrub with a scouring pad.
To clean stains from glass cookware, soak in a mixture of hot water and baking soda for about 20 minutes then scrub clean.
What are your safe cleaning tricks and tips? Also, we’d love to know which Honest cleaning products are your favorites! Tell us in the comments!
To enter to win this Cleaning Products Giveaway, simply enter a comment by using the Rafflecopter entry form below telling us how you’re honestly going non-toxic with your household cleaning products. You also have the option (although not required) to earn two bonus entries by liking our Facebook page and subscribing to our blog. No purchase is necessary to enter to win. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. The giveaway will run until 11:59 pm PST Tuesday, February 18th. One winner will be chosen at random. Read the complete giveaway rules to participate.
Finding cute, eco-friendly baby items is getting easier and easier. If you want to go green with your decor, you no longer have to choose from the standard muted tones that sustainable design is known for. Now there are plenty of environmentally friendly nursery items that incorporate cheerful color into your baby’s room, so it’s possible to move beyond the beige!
Bonus! Eco-friendly items have less of an impact on the environment. Things made with sustainable and organic materials, and non-toxic chemicals are healthier for your family and planet earth.
Here, we’ve compiled a selection of nursery furniture, must-haves, cute toys, and decorating tips to help you get started. When creating your registry for your nursery or making inspiration boards, remember babies’ brains are like sponges soaking up the environment around them. Consider how stimulating, comforting, and imaginative you want the design to be. Mix these fun items with your functional must-haves to create a nurturing, eco-friendly space:
Tell us about the eco-friendly nursery items you like!
When I decided that our family should set some goals my two boys were immediately excited. “Yay soccer!” said my six year old. “I’m really good at scoring goals,” said my four year old. Those aren’t exactly the kind of goals I meant.
There are areas in our daily routine where we all need some improvement. One of my friends mentioned she created a chore chart for her older son to help him learn the connection between work and money. I love this concept but I don’t want to give my kids an allowance yet for housework. However we could work on changing some bad habits.
We could also use more family time. My husband and I split most of the parenting duties. For example, he hangs with the boys on Saturday mornings while I go to the gym, then he gets some free time while I take the kids on a play date. Sundays we each split-up and take a child to their various sports activity. While this allows each of us to get some personal time, it also means we aren’t creating a lot of family togetherness for our boys or each other.
So, I created six attainable family goals that will hopefully change some bad habits and bring us closer together.
Family Goal #1: Eat a sit-down dinner together without electronics at least one night a week. Although my kids are young and have minimal to no homework, we still have after-school activities, play dates, and other appointments that sometimes make it hard to get home and have downtime before the dinner-bath-book-bedtime crunch. This year, instead of committing my kids to a different activity every single day of the week, I’ve dedicated one day for having dinner as a family. This has been a big adjustment for my boys and I can’t say they’re too thrilled so far with no TV, iPads, and us trying to find out about their day. Definitely a work in progress.
Family Goal #2: Do at least one activity together on the weekends. Instead of divide and conquer, I’d like to do at least one thing together, even if it’s just a walk around the block with the dogs, a board game, or riding bikes in the neighborhood. I think this is going to be an easy one.
Family Goal #3: Create and follow chore charts for the kids with room for mom & dad to help. My six year old loved the idea of a chore chart so of course his little brother wanted one too. Now that we’ve started using the chore chart, I realize I have to rethink what’s appropriate for each kid. “Get self dressed” isn’t doable for my four year old without a little help.
Family Goal #4: Less Yelling. When you hear other people yelling at their kids it just sounds awful. Yet it doesn’t stop me from losing my cool with my kids much more than I’d like to. Everyone does it but that doesn’t mean it’s effective. My husband and I need to practice counting to three before we turn-up the volume.
Family Goal #5: Encourage Creativity. I want to encourage my kids to use their imaginations to build towers and invent superheroes rather than follow the directions on the box of some creative-type activity. I’d much rather see them make something on their own that can be built and rebuilt a thousand different ways. One of their favorite toys is a set of brightly colored interlocking plastic tubes. They’ve made creations as diverse as a super powered laser blaster to the world’s largest fork. I could use some work on tapping into my own creative side too.
Family Goal #6: Kids’ Choice. Once a month, have a kids’ choice day where they get to pick what we do, within reason of course. I’m hoping the possibility of a trip to the local arcade will be an effective incentive to encourage them to follow the chore chart!
How do you set family goals? What are your family goals for 2014?
This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!
What it is: A chlorinated bisphenol made from petroleum derivatives.
What it does: Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent with some antiviral properties. It’s currently found in the following products: soaps, hand washes, dish-washing products, laundry detergents and softeners, plastics (e.g., toys, cutting boards, kitchen utensils), toothpaste and mouthwashes, deodorants and antiperspirants, cosmetics and shaving creams, acne treatment products, hair conditioners, bedding, trash bags, apparel like socks and undershirts, hot tubs, plastic lawn furniture, surgical scrubs, implantable medical devices, pesticides, mattresses, insulation, carpet padding, and other flooring underlayments.
Why we’re featuring it today: Triclosan is included in our Honestly Free Guarantee, meaning we’ll never, ever use it. Because it’s such a widely used chemical, some people wonder why we would choose to avoid it. Here’s our reasoning in a nutshell:
Triclosan poses health risks. Most notably, it’s a hormone disruptor that’s been linked to reproductive and developmental harm in animal studies, and it can react with the chlorine in treated tap water to produce carcinogenic chloroform. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has found triclosan in the bodies of nearly 75% of Americans over the age of six.
Triclosan is persistent (meaning it lingers, creating more opportunities for it to cause harm). According to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), “Manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing toothpaste and soap products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Thus, consumers are exposed to triclosan for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their hands or brush their teeth.” Worse yet, it lingers in the environment (it’s been found in river sediment that’s over 30 years old), damages aquatic ecosystems, and bioaccumulates in fish. Some fish have been found to have levels of triclosan in their systems thousands of times higher than what was recorded in the surrounding water.
There’s no good reason to use it. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), currently there’s no proof that triclosan in care products provides any health benefits beyond some anti-gingivitis benefits in toothpaste. They actually just recently ordered manufacturers using triclosan to submit evidence that their products are safe and effective. If not, they’ll have to remove the triclosan or change their labels. (We’re thinking this proposed rule would have been a good thing to require BEFORE companies were allowed to sell these products! Don’t you agree?) Also, according to the APUA, hard products like textiles and plastics that have added triclosan aren’t delivering what consumers might assume. They say, “Microban® [another name for triclosan] controls microbial growth and odors within the impregnated surface but does not offer the user any significant protection from infectious microbes on the exterior surfaces of those items. This could potentially create a false sense of security, and cause the user to relax other efforts to keep surfaces clean.”
Want your home to be Honestly Free of triclosan?
How You Can Avoid It:
Read labels. Look for triclosan in ingredients lists and watch for words and claims like “antibacterial” and “odor-fighting.” On clothing, toys, and hard goods, you can also look for mention of Microban or Biofresh.
Sign the pledge. Support the national non-profit Beyond Pesticides’ campaign to curb the use of this toxic antibacterial by signing their pledge to stop using triclosan. It’s a simple way to add your voice to the choir and let our government and manufacturers know we want triclosan removed from our everyday products.
Have any questions about triclosan? Let us know in the comments. We’re always happy to help!
As we move into the holidays, we have the opportunity to celebrate with those we care about most over a delicious meal. Let these opportunities be a reminder for the rest of the year to create time with the people we love while enjoying healthy food. The benefits of these experiences go beyond bonding and can actually impact our health in a positive way.
Eating with loved ones creates an environment that releases brain chemicals that stimulate proper digestion. The process begins with cooking. When our kitchens and homes have the aroma of delectable foods, our sense of smell stimulates our brain to create good digestive juices in the stomach, like hydrochloric acid, and releases enzymes from the pancreas. Here are three ways that eating with loved ones is healthy for our body and soul:
1. Slowing down: When we dine with people whose company we enjoy, the body relaxes and we sit back and slow down. This is good for our bodies because healthy digestion begins in our mouths. Salivary amylase and lipase break down fat and carbohydrates before they reach our stomachs. Eating rapidly causes us to skip this important first step. The goal is to chew food about 25 times per bite. When food is chewed slowly, the body has time to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes and once it reaches the stomach, the hormone ghrelin signals satiety to the brain. Eating rapidly impairs feedback to the brain and will leave you feeling fuller than necessary.
2. Healthier eating habits: Rutgers reviewed 68 studies around the topic of family meals and found that 40% of the average family’s budget is spent eating out, typically not together. Families who ate together at home raised children who ate more fruits, vegetables, fiber, vitamin-rich foods, and consumed less fast food. These families also had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than the families who frequently ate out.
3. Reduces stress and improves mood: Laughing and pleasant conversation improves the experience of eating and reduces stress levels. Regular family meals (without the television on) encourage communication, bonding, and interpersonal support. Teens who ate with their families versus eating alone were less likely to show signs of depression or risk taking behavior.
Need inspiration for your next family dinner? Check out our great Honest recipes that are healthy, easy, and delicious.
- Dr. Thalia Farshchian, Naturopathic Doctor
This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary/health changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.