Is Cleaning Your House Making You Sick?

Are your cleaning products doing more harm than good? 

You may do your dishes, dust, mop, wipe down counters and spray your furniture but what if all that cleaning is actually making your house dirtier?

Did you know that there are approximately 75,000 different chemical ingredients used in common household cleaning products and that only 10% of these ingredients are fully tested for health and environmental effects?

If that doesn’t sound like a big deal think about this: the skin can absorb over 60% of what it comes into contact with, including chemical residues from cleaners, and those chemicals travel into the bloodstream.  Have you ever purchased something with questionable ingredients and thought, “Well, I’m not eating it”? This rationalization doesn’t really hold when you consider the skin as porous (not to mention the lungs). So don’t you want to know what ingredients are supposedly keeping your house and body clean? Check out your cleaning cupboard – are ingredients listed on your products? Do you know what they are?

Here are some things to consider while you investigate as well as some simple and safe alternatives.

The Laundry Room

Product Ingredients to Watch For Why they are problematic
Detergents & Dryer Sheets Synthetic dyes Carcinogenic
Petrochemical derivatives Carcinogenic
Synthetic Fragrance Allergies, migraines
Chlorine Skin irritant
Phosphates Promote algal bloom that impact aquatic life
Trisodium Nitrilotriacetate Re-dissolves heavy metals in water, toxic to aquatic life

Safe Solutions

Product Method
Laundry Detergent Re-use an old laundry soap container and blend 2 L hot water, 2 tbsp coarse salt, 6 tbsp baking soda and 6 tbsp liquid castile soap. Dissolve dry ingredients in hot water, add soap and stir. Use ½ cup for a full load.
For fabric odours Add 1 cup of white vinegar to your load and wash normally. (For tough odours soak in vinegar water overnight)
Eco Nuts* Shells from the Himalayan soap berry tree used in place of detergent.
Wool Dryer Balls* Great alternative to dryer sheets

* Available in our grocery department

The Kitchen

Product Ingredient to watch for Why they are problematic
All purpose cleaner MEA, DEA, TEA May contain carcinogenic nitrosamines
Synthetic fragrance Can trigger allergies and migraines
Coal tar dyes and petrochemical derivatives Contain carcinogenic heavy metals
Ammonia Produces vapours that irritate skin, eyes, throat and lungs
Nonulphenol ethoxylates Can mimic estrogen, linked to reproductive problems
Dishwashing soap Phosphates Promote algal bloom that kill aquatic life
Coal tar dyes and petrochemical derivatives Contain carcinogenic heavy metals
Triclosan Hormone disrupter, irritant to skin and eyes
Oven Cleaner 2-butoxyethanol Linked to blood disorders and reproductive problems
Sodium hydroxide Highly corrosive, can burn eyes and lungs

Safe Solutions

Cleaner Method
Counter spray/disinfectant In a spray bottle add 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar and 25 drops of essential oil (e.g. tea tree, lemon, lavender)
Sink and cutting board scrub/disinfectant Cover sink/board with course sea salt. Use a ½ a previously squeezed lemon as a scrubber and rub salt in a circular motion. Rinse with hot water
Pot and pan scrub Wet your pan and sprinkle enough baking soda to create a thick paste. Using a scour pad and some elbow grease scrub until clean.
Oven Cleaner Sprinkle baking soda on grease spots, spray with water and leave overnight. Wipe off in the morning.
Oven door cleaner Create a paste of lemon juice + baking soda and apply in a circular motion with scour pad until clean.
Floor cleaner Add 1 part vinegar to 3 parts hot water + a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Your floors will be clean and you won’t need an air freshener!
Air Freshener Simmer cinnamon + orange peel in water over the stove for 20 minutes

Use an essential oil plug in or diffuser (find them in our Body Care department)

Use charcoal throughout the house to absorb odour (find them near the Customer Service desk)

Burn beeswax candles, they purify the air (find out more about beeswax here)


Kate McMurray, Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Photo credit: mconnors

Resource: CHFA