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
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.