Friday, December 15, 2006

Clean Schemes

Its been a long hard road to find environmentally friendly and generally healthy alternatives to the usual household cleaners. Since I became pregnant, I insisted that all cleaners I had were to be tossed out and replaced with "natural" or "safer" products. A friend of mine named Jody who is a big motivator from across the country asked me to write a bit about this chemically laden problem.
Most of us basically use what Mom did when we were kids. Obviously Mom knows best! Sorry Mom, but formulas for natural alternatives to heavy cleaners are easy to find and not expensive. Being a wee-bit phobic of germs, I sometimes worry that dirty stuff is still lurking on my hands or floor after using the gentle, non-toxic options, but I think I will opt for germs instead of cancer.
The following is an overview of junk found in popular household cleaners that should scare you a bit, found from the Bi-O-Kleen website.

DISINFECTANTS: (example, Lysol) The most common chemical used to kill bacteria are phenol (a particularly hazardous class of chemicals), quaternary ammonia, pine oil, and sodium hypochlorite, otherwise known as chlorine bleach. Using chlorine bleach is particularly hazardous because they react with ammonia or acids to release toxic gases. There are thousands of accidents each year caused from mixing bleach with other cleaning products. These are all corrosive and toxic chemicals.

TUB & TILE CLEANERS: (um, the scrubbing bubbles you see on TV) These products dissolve dirt without scrubbing. The reason they can do that is because they usually contain glycol ethers or chlorine bleach. This is yet another strong and hazardous chemical which is used in most of today’s bathroom cleaners for mold and mildew. The warning label may read something like this, "Not recommended for use by persons with heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems". "Do not mix with acids, ammonia or other household cleaners". "Use only in well ventilated areas". So what are glycol ethers? Well, they have been known to cause birth defects in laboratory animals (not tested by Bi-O-Kleen), and pregnant or nursing women should avoid using these kinds of products. They can damage red blood cells or bone morrow, causing anemia. And using these products in small confined spaces, such as bathrooms, makes some inhalation of glycol ether inevitable. Like chlorine bleach, it is readily taken in and absorbed through the skin, even when no damage to the skin itself occurs (that is why you can taste a lot of these products in your mouth).

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS: (should be sold with gloves, mask, and eye protection) There are a variety of toilet bowl cleaners out on the market. You have liquids, crystals, and tablets. The most hazardous cleaners are usually the liquids and crystals often marked DANGER. They contain strong acids and are toxic and corrosive. They can burn skin and eyes on contact.

DRAIN CLEANERS: (drain-oh oh) Accidental consumption, even the smallest amount, can cause severe damage or death. Inhalation and skin contact can cause damage to the skin, eyes and lungs. Drain cleaners are another temporary solution because they often end up damaging and corroding drain pipes, making for a bigger mess in the future.

LAUNDRY DETERGENTS: Commercial laundry products contain most of these ingredients including: metasilicates, borax, free silica, cationic fabric softeners, borine, petrochemical surfactants, toxic algaecides and sanitizers, artificial fragrance and coloring, and fillers. When you are washing your clothes with these kinds of products, you are wearing them against your skin all day, absorbing any left over residue your wash did not rinse away. These cleaner are also hard on your clothes, washing machine and dryer, leaving residues behind that build up each time you wash causing corrosion of washing machines and dryers, and fading and thinning of clothes.

Not only the chemicals present problems, what about the animal testing? Corrosive products dousing bunnies and mice? How does that feel in your eye lil guy? Check this website where you can type in product names and find out if they test or not.
Here is a list of some products tested on animals:

BRILLO PRODUCTS - Clean Shine - Country Air - Crystal Shine - Fabulous - Fine Care - Laundry Soft - Nice N' Fluffy - Plumbers Aid - Power Scrub - Swiss Pine - Tile Action - Touch of Glass - Xtra detergent - Brita
Clorox products
- Combat - EverClean - EverFresh - Formula 409 - Fresh Step - Glad products - GladWare - Lestoil - Liquid-Plumr - Pine-Sol - S.O.S. - Scoop Away - - Soft Scrub - Tilex- Tuffy

After trying many brands, I FINALLY found one that I feel completely devoted to and highly recommend. Bi-O-Kleen is my favorite overall.
They have amazing automatic dishwashing powder (lasts FOREVER) for your dishwasher that completely cleans my glasses, no spots left behind.
Also, their clothing detergent ROCKS! Its the best and also is concentrated and a great deal.
I recommend all of their products but specifically the above are my favorites.
Here is their website, I buy their stuff at WHOLE FOODS.

Take it from me, a germ phobic chic who actually enjoys cleaning.....go natural!


tevi said...

hey keri, i've been using Mrs. Meyers products lately because they are non toxic and work great. have you heard anything about this company that i should know about?
i've been stressing out about all of those toxic cleaners out there too, so i was happy to read this!

Keri Jean Siry said...

Hey Tevi! Mrs. Meyers is just fine. Its just kinda pricey! I love the Meyers stuff it just seems to be double the price of the others....