Are Cleaning Products Making Your Family Ill?
5 Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure
1. Don’t use potentially hazardous chemicals unless absolutely necessary. (If you already have a product in the house, it can be better for the environment to use it up for its intended purpose rather than disposing of it in the trash. Use with extreme care, and don’t buy any more.)
- Use regular soap to wash your hands, and wash your hands often and vigorously, rinsing well.
- Use regular dishwasher liquid for washing kitchenware.
- If you need to disinfect a kitchen counter or floor, use a commercial bleach with appropriate ventilation and precautions, or use a nontoxic alternative.
- Don’t buy household products such as cutting boards or high chairs that are advertised as containing antibacterial agents. There is no evidence that they decrease the incidence of infection.
- Save the use of an antibacterial product for a situation serious enough to warrant its use. An example would be the arrival home of a vulnerable patient following a hospital stay for surgery or illness.
3. When a powerful cleaning product with hazardous chemicals must be used, follow these steps:
- Read the product label and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use carefully.
- Keep the product in its original package for continued access to safety information and directions.
- Use the product only for its intended use.
- Always use the product in a well-ventilated area. Don’t be afraid to lose some cooled or heated air in the process. Maintain venting systems that send indoor air outside.
- Reseal the container to as air-tight a state as possible before storing. Store chemicals outside the home if possible, or in a well-ventilated area.
- Products with volatile organic compounds, such as strippers and spot removers, should be handled with special caution. Use the product outdoors or schedule use for mild weather when open windows and doors will not be a problem. Take regular breaks for fresh air while working. Use protective gloves and glasses. Keep children and pets away from the work area. Purchase only the needed amount to do the job so there is less left over to store.
- Limit the use of aerosols. These products become a serious inhalation hazard because their contents are dispersed in the air as tiny droplets. Use pump sprays instead.
4. Consider buying commercial nontoxic or natural cleaning products available at your local stores, or from the following internet websites:
- NEEDS (Nutritional Ecological and Environmental Delivery System): This website is a hub for health information and sells natural cleaning products from scores of manufacturers such as Allen’s Naturally, Earthrite, and Safechoice.
- Seventh Generation: Sells a variety of nontoxic cleaning products.
- Livos Environmental Safe Cleaners: Over 1200 natural products including paints, stains, thinners, natural cleaners, and polishes can be ordered from this website.
- Sinan Company: Has natural wood finishes, paints and cleaning products.
- Soapworks: Amilya Antonetti’s all-natural cleaning products, featuring organic ingredients such as coconut oil and white ginger.
5. Make your own nontoxic cleaners out of easy-to-find and inexpensive ingredients. More recipes for nontoxic cleaning products can be found in magazines and books. The seven most frequently used ingredients are available at your grocery store. These are baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), borax, soap [flakes, liquid, and oil soap], washing soda [sodium carbonate], white vinegar, salt, and lemon juice.
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