We've talked about some low-tox cleaning methods during this Challenge, but you may still feel tempted to get out the big guns when cleaning certain areas of your home. If you're going to go beyond your refrigerator or pantry to arm yourself for the task, make sure you know what you're dealing with.
This week, let's become more educated about our cleaning products and practices—and what's OK to do around your little ones.
Safe around kids and pets? No. This ingredient, often found in window cleaner, has been proven to depress the central nervous system, and vapors cause irritation of eyes and respiratory tract, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Household Products Database. Creates a very dangerous gas when in contact with chlorine bleach.
Safe around kids and pets? Yes, if diluted. (Pre-diluted products make this easy.)
Even safer: Ventilate well when using any bleach product, says the National Institutes of Health.
Safe around kids and pets? No.
This ingredient used in some oven cleaners and furniture polish is also used in insect killers and lighters.
Safe around kids and pets? Yes, with a damp microfiber cloth because it traps dust. With an ostrich duster, or paper towel, no.
Dust can carry bacteria and pet dander and even contaminants such as lead particles—not to mention highly allergic dust mites. The idea is to contain dust, not spread it around the room.
Safe around kids and pets? Yes, as long as you watch for tiny hands, feet, and paws!
Even safer: Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Vacuum cleaners without a HEPA filter can kick dust back into the air and trigger allergies or asthma.
Before your child is walking or crawling, it's essential that you childproof low cabinets holding household cleansers or, even better, move cleaning products to a higher shelf you're certain they can't reach. Keep the number to the poison control center in a visible place so that everyone in the house is aware of it.
Remember, toddlers and babies use their mouths and fingers to explore the world. Use common sense when you're cleaning the floor, play room furniture, or low tables with any chemical-based product.