This time of year I feel like my home needs a good “spring cleaning.” I want everything to sparkle and shine and smell fresh. When the sun is out, suddenly the windows look cloudy, the surfaces feel more dusty, everything clearly needs to be wiped off.
Unfortunately, in my quest for everything to feel spring fresh and clean, I started to uncovered some very dirty and even dangerous secrets.
Trust me, the word dangerous isn’t just for shock value or click bait. This is for real. This won’t be a short post or even a pretty one, but it will have some of the most important “home improvement” info I’ve ever shared here on the blog. It hits close to home for all of us.
You know I always feel better about life when my house feels clean. I know you feel better with a clean house, too. Our house has never been perfect and I don’t think anyone who knows me would consider me a total clean freak. I’m scatterbrained and sometimes messy. But I definitely feel a psychological boost walking into a kitchen or bathroom when things look, feel and smell clean.
Trying to at least have a “clean enough” home has been something I felt was worth investing in not only for my own state of mind (you know everything is better when mama’s happy…) but for the overall well-being of our family. It felt good to know I was keeping our family safe from substances and germs that could harm them, providing them sparkling clean dishes to eat off of and fresh clean clothes to wear.
I see myself and my husband as the “gatekeepers” of our home, as we are both eager to do whatever we can to make sure anything that enters our home is safe and healthy for our family.
But much to my horror, even though we really have tried to buy safe products, I’ve been uncovering some disgusting and yes, truly dangerous things lurking in my home.
See my next post with simple changes for a cleaner home!
I’ve discovered that products I invited in to my home because I thought they were helping our family (or at least just smelled good) may have been actually causing us harm. Products I just assumed were safe actually contain toxins, known carcinogens (!), endocrine and reproductive disrupters, allergens and more.
Over the last couple of years I become even more mindful of the products we were using. The more I researched, the more I was crushed to discover more and more dangers in our home environment.
In a study I read online, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 287 chemicals in the umbilical cords of newborn babies (passed on to them in utero) many of which are linked to cancer, birth defects or known to be toxic to the brain, endocrine and nervous systems.
We likely come into contact with hundreds of harmful toxics in the course of a day. Our immune systems were created to protect us, but we’ve designed an environment that has us living in a toxic soup, a complicated and potentially deadly mix of chemicals our bodies likely can’t process or deal with.
Believe me, I’m not a fear-monger type, but thinking about this stuff really inspires me to take responsible action and be far more cautious about what I bring into my home (and leads to me here to tell everyone what is potentially lurking under their sink, gah!).
Just like when my son was a baby and I had to figure out all the fancy names for “milk” and check for artificial colors and preservatives in food ingredient lists (I wrote about that in my healthy home post), I realized awhile back that I needed to take our health safety even further and really question more of the products we had in our home.
For years I lit candles and spritzed synthetic sprays around our home to make the air in our house smell good. I bought convenience items like cleaning wipes. I looked for the ones that were more powerful because I thought that meant better.
I was a sucker for yummy smelling cleaning products and words that sound refreshing like “spring” and “renewal” and “air.” I bought all of the seasonal hand soaps because they were labeled with the word “natural fragrance.”
But here’s what I’ve been learning. When you see the word “fragrance” listed on a product, the company isn’t required by law to disclose what ingredients are used to produce that fragrance.
Many fragrances actually contain “phthalates” and preservatives which are harmful, but each substance doesn’t have to be listed individually on the label. The word “fragrance” could include endocrine disrupting toxic chemicals that don’t have to be specifically identified other than “fragrance”.
Watch this video on the disturbing truth about candles and air fresheners.
Even if a label says a product is “natural” it doesn’t necessarily mean it is all good. There could be one natural product and several “non-natural.” We would also need to investigate further the practices and policies of the company to know their policy on quality, as well as the exact process and ingredients they used to know what “natural” means on the label.
I started researching the ingredients found on the labels of the products I was using. That was scary. If the label said “natural ingredients” I’d research the company to see if they had any published standards of quality.
I even discovered that some of the companies assumed to be “safer” been bought out by other companies that I knew I didn’t trust.
Goodness, why did finding safe have products have to require so much stress and effort?
I’ve been working on creating a healthier environment for my kids since they were little (as I shared in my health story). We weren’t as “crunchy” or as diligent in label reading as we should have been back then, I can see that now, but we tried to be careful when we knew of and believed in the dangers.
I’m so relieved that we were as conscientious as we were considering where we could have gone wrong, but it does make me feel sick that we were still so unaware of many potential dangers under our own roof. For everything we knew and did right, so many other things didn’t even cross our mind! I’m sure you feel the same way.
But every year I try to learn more because I see how our health was compromised in the past in obvious and potentially not-yet-discovered ways. And every year I’m more appalled at what is still sold to us, I get more mad at what is swept under the rug, and frustrated by what I didn’t know or change in our home as quickly as I should have.
These products were not just in our house, but quite possibly in yours, too. It’s hard to process that even while trying to be the best mamas and home-makers we could be, we may have been unknowingly bringing such harmful products into our own home.
Over time, those toxins can build up in our homes and in our bodies, potentially causing cancers, diseases and conditions.
So believe me, at our house the entire meaning of a clean home is being turned upside down.
It literally makes me sick to even think about how many toxins could be in our home even now. It’s not pleasant to talk about, but it’s too important to our family and to anyone who cleans or beautifies their home, bodies, hair, dishes or babies to just “sweep these toxic secrets under the rug”.
We can’t pretend this isn’t real, it is real.
Those dangers have been right under our noses, brought into our kitchens, placed under our bathroom sinks, sprayed on our counters, used on our dishes, gently wiped onto our babies skin, put in and on our bodies, on our clothes, in our hair.
People are literally getting sick in their own homes due to toxins in the products they use to clean and beautify all the things.
I feel terrible when I think about what I didn’t know or “should have known” or ” should have done.”
But guilt doesn’t change the past, does it? And there are no guarantees of perfect health, even if we got it all right.
So we need to let go of those regrets and not live in fear or panic; those things don’t serve anyone well. This knowledge should propel us to make changes as we go and commit to learning all we can about moving forward with wellness. I know there are many other things that will likely need to change in time, but we have to start somewhere. Anywhere is better than not at all.
We need to get back to what God intended for our wellness. Our bodies are amazing at healing when we give them what they need to be well. They even start to tell us when something isn’t right.
Good healthy food from truly organic farms, plenty of clean water, exercise, and plant-based products, not toxic chemicals, will promote greater wellness in our bodies. We don’t need to fill our home with anything that compromises our well-being.
But it’s true, any of us can KNOW or believe something isn’t right and still not take steps to change it.
Some people still roll their eyes when “wellness” conversations come up, and then will go right back to spraying chemicals on their bodies and dishes and inhaling them every single day as though they don’t want to believe the risk! Ack!
You can research these toxins, ingredients and risks yourself. Don’t take my word for it but don’t just sweep it all under the rug. Don’t trust everything you read on google or find on an app, don’t panic, but definitely don’t assume all products sold in stores are safe or not harming you.
It’s hard to unsee or not take action if you have done your own research and uncovered things you don’t want in your home.
In my home, we are redefining what a truly clean home means. Our home may sparkle. It may shine. It may smell good, but it won’t be because we fake cleaned it with chemical toxins.
So what do we use? We use plant-based methods to clean, truly clean, our home. We have found plant-based cleaners we trust that not only clean our house well, but they contribute to wellness and a better quality of life for our family.
It’s NOT hard to get rid of all the junk under the sink. Yes, we spent hard-earned money on those carcinogens. It’s true, we invested funds in those hormone disrupters and reproductive and developmental toxicities.
This is one time we definitely don’t need to get our money’s worth before we replace products. Toss those toxins out and never look back.
It’s not too expensive or time consuming to be healthy, it’s actually way more expensive and time consuming to be or get sick! We absolutely have to redefine clean. It’s not what we’ve been told; it’s not what we might have believed. Clean is healthy. Clean is safe.
Tomorrow I’ll share some of the changes we’ve made in our home. I’ll offer some great DIY recipes and specific ways we’ve replaced harsh chemical products for a healthier home.
If you are ready to ditch those toxic products immediately and don’t want to wait to learn more, I applaud you for taking swift action. I’m happy to encourage you in this journey and give you some tips and product ideas we use so you can get started right away and truly clean your home for good.
Here is a link to some wonderful and effective plant-based products my family trusts and has used for the past few years (and information on joining our wellness group where we clean out our homes together!).
Update 2019: I’m happy to say I continue to feel better than ever, thanks to the commitment to ridding our home of toxic junk and being far more diligent about what comes into our home.
This journey to a healthier home will be eye-opening and inspiring, don’t wait!
See you here tomorrow for helpful tips on really cleaning your home.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and nothing written in this article should be taken as a scientific fact, a prescription or as medical advice. This information reflects my personal observation and experience.