Spring is fast approaching, and in keeping with the season we’re beginning to think about how to kick off a fresh start around the home. But the idea of freshness that many companies would lead us to believe is the cleanest is really more of a chemical attack on your home. A lot of the common cleaning products we see on the shelves and in our kitchen cupboards today are filled with dangerous chemicals which we and our families would do well to avoid. With cases of eczema and asthma seemingly unstoppable in their increase, it might be a wise idea to ditch the detergent now in favour of products and practices which are better for our health.
Which chemicals should we avoid, and why?
There are various nasties to look out for when picking cleaning products or anything else which is brought into the home. Some of the most prevalent include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and arsenic. All of these common chemicals are bad for our health, and combined in the home are doing far worse than cleaning your kitchen surfaces. As well as having been shown to increase instances of asthma and eczema, these chemicals have been known to cause headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision as well as more serious health issues such as cancer and nervous system damage.
David Santillo, researcher at the University of Exeter, says homes are a “significant source of chemical exposure,” due to the rise in levels of harmful chemicals included in household products such as cleaners, furnishings, and common paints.
What can we replace these products with?
As is the case with many things at the moment, it is often best to revert to more traditional products in place of the more chemically laden modern developments. Although advertising may cause us to believe differently, many cleaning products actually do more harm than good. Old fashioned substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, and soap are much safer, cheaper, and equally effective as what most of us use today. These were all commonly used around the home only a few decades ago.
Six super healthy Spring Cleaning tips:
Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum. Carpets and other soft furnishings are experts in the field of chemical harbouring. Absorbing harmful substances from the environment and gathering dust too, they can be a real allergy trigger. Something as simple as vacuuming more often will help maintain better air quality in the home whilst keeping nasty chemicals at bay.
Introduce some plants to the house. A number of house plants boast some quite brilliant detoxifying abilities. By helping to absorb chemicals such as formaldehyde from the air, they will help keep your atmosphere clean and fresh. They’re also very good at soaking up stray food smells from the kitchen.
Drop furniture polish in favour of natural oils. You really don’t have to resort to smothering your furniture with cough-prompting sprays to get it looking lovely. A light dab of olive oil will bring out the shine perfectly well.
Replace your non-stick pans. As wonderfully handy as they are, non-stick pots and pans are a serious health hazard. The coating which creates the non-stick effect contains some unsavoury chemicals including PFCs, which have been linked to liver, pancreatic, and testicular cancers. These pans are even more hazardous when scratched, as the coating contaminates the food cooked in them. Replace these pans with stainless steel, enamel, or crockery alternatives and enjoy peace of mind at the hob.
Redecorate with VOC-free paint. All paints were not created equal, and some of the more common paints around today contain worryingly high levels of harmful chemicals known as VOCs. These chemicals can cause various respiratory problems, headaches, sickness, and other more serious health issues. However, there are some paints which have reverted to the good old fashioned formulae without anything nasty thrown in. Claypaint is water-based and contains natural clays, giving it a beautifully thick texture with excellent covering power and the full breathability needed for a healthy home.