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 Spring Cleaning with Herbs

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average home harbors more than 150 chemicals that are suspected of contributing to the incidence of respiratory disorders, cancer, birth defects, psychological disorders, and impaired fertility. Disguised as “ordinary” household cleaning products, these chemicals collectively make the air inside the average home up to 70 times more toxic than outdoor air. Learn what hazards lurk in your home and how herbs can help clean them up.

Manufacturers spend millions of dollars on television advertising campaigns to convince you that using their products will guarantee a happy home and lifestyle that’s free of troublesome grime and germs. Not only that, but the message driven home is that your laundering habits to make sure Skippy’s soccer uniform is stain-free contributes to his social and academic success. That’s a pretty nice reflection on you too, isn’t it? But, there’s more to this picture, and much more at stake than suffering unsightly grass stains. What these manufacturers neglect to come clean about—and aren’t required to tell you—is that Skippy may be sporting pesticide residue on his skin and may be at increased risk for liver cancer.

What’s in your cleaning products?

Laundry Detergents: Commercial laundry detergents typically contain fluosilicate, a pesticide classified as a human carcinogen and neurotoxin. According the to Pesticide Action Network, this agent is also associated with reproductive and developmental toxicity. These products may also contain alkylbenzene sulfonate, a known liver carcinogen readily absorbed through the skin.

Disinfectants: Here, you are likely to encounter benzalkonium chloride, phenols, triclosan and naphtha. Benzalkonium chloride is a nerve-deadening agent. Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is readily absorbed through the skin and may cause coma, convulsions, or respiratory arrest in asthmatics. Triclosan, a known liver carcinogen, is also readily absorbed through the skin. Naphtha is a neurotoxin classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous waste.

Dishwashing Liquid: According to the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C., an accidental household poisoning occurs approximately every 14 seconds, 50% of which involve children under the age of six. The most commonly ingested poison in the home is dishwashing liquid. In addition to naphtha, a common toxin found in these products include diethanolamine. Diethanolamine is converted into nitrosamines, which have been shown to inhibit the absorption of choline and to impair brain development. This chemical is also a systemic toxin, meaning it can affect multiple organs.

Okay, enough said. Now that you know that little bottle of dishwashing liquid sitting next to your kitchen sink is capable of dissolving more than grease, and your laundry detergent may be depositing more in your clothing than just a fresh scent, it’s time to talk about alternatives.

The Real Dirt on “Green” Cleaners

Certainly, you could load up a shopping cart at the nearest health food store or eco-conscious grocery market with natural cleaning products that are safer for your family’s health and the environment. However, as thankful as we are that these products exist, they usually come with a higher price tag. Given today’s economic climate, that prospect can be hazardous to your financial well-being.

In addition, there’s a lot of “greenwashing” going on out there these days that lure consumers into thinking that a product is natural when it isn’t. In fact, since there are no regulatory definitions for terms like “natural” and “nontoxic,” manufacturers are free to use them as they see fit. This means that the product may contain the same laundry list of ingredients found in commercial cleaning products, and is merely enhanced with a few drops of “natural” botanical fragrance oil.

Herbal Housekeeping

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with dirt, break the bank, or earn a doctorate in chemical engineering to go green. In fact, with a few simple ingredients, you can easily make your own formulas that will (almost) make cleaning a pleasure. Natural, herbal essential oils are your new line of defense against stains in the laundry, harmful bacteria in the bathroom, and the toxins residing under the kitchen sink.

Why essential oils? They offer several benefits. First of all, most essential oils possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. Secondly, they are highly economical to use. Since making a homemade cleaning formula only requires a few drops of essential oil, a one-ounce bottle will last a long time and only set you back a few bucks. In fact, depending on the type of oil, the same bottle can produce a dozen or more containers of cleaning solution for a small investment of $3.00 to $11.00. Just try saving that much green buying 12 commercial cleaners at the store. Finally, you can rest assured that the only thing being left behind on surfaces is a natural, herbal scent, not a toxic, chemical residue.

Ready to get started? Check out our collection of simple-to-make, easy-on-the budget herbal cleaning formulas….....Herbal Cleaning Formulas