Home Detox: Greener Cleaners & Houseplants

Had a great time on Ebru Today talking about how to detox our homes as we prepare to seal ourselves in for the colder months. I focused primarily on cleaning products because I think so many folks don’t realize just how toxic they can be and how important it is for us to try to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals, especially when our homes are closed up during the colder season. AND it’s not just about us. Many of the chemicals found in common household cleaning products get into the eco-system and are known to be endocrine inhibitors or disruptors to many species . . . not good . . .

Here are a couple of things to consider when thinking about the kinds of cleaning products you want to use in your house:

  • The EPA ranks indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers
  • The average household has 3 – 25 gallons of toxic materials in the house, most of which are cleaning products
  • A European study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that regular use of common household cleaning sprays was linked to a 30 – 50% increased risk of asthma – YIKES!
  • There are approximately 17,000 chemicals used in the array of common household cleaners found in most homes, only 30% of these are tested for side effects on human health and the environment! ahhhhhhhh

Here are a few toxic chemicals found in many household cleaners and their effects on human health:

  • Chlorinated Phenols – found in toilet bowl cleaners, are toxic to the respiratory and circulatory systems
  • Diethylene Glycol – found in window cleaners, depresses the nervous system
  • Phenols – found in disinfectants, are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate – a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners – BANNED IN EUROPE – has been shown to biodegrade slowly and when it does, it biodegrades into more toxic compounds. nice
  • Formaldehyde – found in spray and wick deodorizers, is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen
  • Petroleum Solvents – in floor cleaners, damage mucous membranes
  • Perchloroethylene – a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage
  • Butyl Cellosolve – common in all-purpose, window and other cleaners, damages bone marrow, nervous system, kidneys and liver
The list goes on. Have you cleaned up your cleaning products yet? Are you running for your cleaning product cabinet? Please do – get rid of the stuff, then check back in. We’ll still be here and we have some solutions, so don’t despair. You CAN be green AND clean!
Meanwhile, the GoodGuide did a pretty good comparison and rating chart for cleaning products that is worth taking a look at. You can always go to Environmental Working Group’s website and look through their chemical index . . . It’s a little scary, but offers a lot of information.

or Make Your Own!

Get some of my favorite, effective and simple DIY cleaning product recipes . . .

Happy Houseplants Can Help Too!

NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants extensively back in the 80′s as a way to purify the air in space facilities. They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

They were trying to get rid of or reduce the three most common toxic chemicals found in building materials, cleaning products, adhesives, and varnishes. So, they narrowed it down to these top offenders: formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

They found that spider plants worked well for filtering formaldehyde and Aloe vera (great not only great for minor cuts and wounds) helps clear formaldehyde and benzene! This was good news for this green diva, because while I’m great with plants outside, I suck at houseplants for some reason. Most of the plants they listed are common varieties and not too hard to keep alive! The plant in the image is indeed one of mine and it’s been happily transplanted since we moved into the new house. It was a baby from my brother, who is the houseplant MAN.

Other plants listed as good for cleansing indoor air are heartleaf philodendron, elephant ear philodendron, cornstalk dracaena, and english ivy. And here’s a link to an article I found that has a more thorough list of good air-cleaning houseplants towards the bottom of the page.

44 comments

Prince Jefferson
Prince Jefferson3 years ago

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Prince Jefferson
Prince Jefferson3 years ago

My name is prince Jefferson,I have been in the job of helping people with kidney problem and people that have suffered in terms trying to get a donor for them to have a kidney transplant.In the little island where i live and due to the poverty there,the people look for way to sell of there kidney to get huge cash for survival and this people are very healthy.I am an agent,so if you need a healthy kidney you can contact me via my email. latterdayassembly@yahoo.com

Mobile number:+234807390827

Suz F.
Suz F3 years ago

...awww this read was like a breath of fresh air--thanks-you for reminders and other helpful ideals of making ones home a place of comfort through plants and cleaning tips...

Jessica Sutton
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for the info!

Just getting started on making a lot of my own cleaning products now.

natalie n.
natalie n4 years ago

thanks its a useful reminder as i dont always shop based on ingredients/content but rather efficacy, and that can be detrimental too.

paul m.
paul m4 years ago

Thank you

Past Member
Christine W4 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M4 years ago

Thank you- we need to be reminded often that there are alternatives to toxic chemicals around the home and environment.

Deborah D.
Deborah D4 years ago

I would LOVE to know what other plants may be good air cleaners, since philodendrons are on the list of plants toxic to cats. Many cats will try to nibble on plants and it is hard to keep cats away from anyplace they *really* want to go!



Yulan Lawson
Yulan Lawson4 years ago

Thanks for the heads up.