Monday, Apr. 7, 2008 | 05:28 PM AT
Do you know what's in your bottle or jar of cleaning product-- and what it's doing to the environment and your health?
If you use most easily available commercial brands (even the one's advertised as "natural") you might want to check the ingredients labels for the following ingredients:
Chlorine: Most commonly found in bleach, toilet bowl cleansers, this chemical can cause your eyes, lungs and skin to burn. It's also terrible for the environment because once it goes down the drain, it reacts with other chemicals out there to form "dioxins" which are a known hormone disruptor. Chlorine by itself is also a source of air pollution.
Ammonia: Commonly found in toilet cleansers, window cleaners and all purpose spray cleaners, ammonia is a powerful lung irritant.
Phosphates: These compounds are what led to an epidemic of toxic blue-green algae in Quebec's lakes last summer. They're being phased out, but will still show up on shelves.
Sodium Hydroxide: This corrosive and highly poisonous chemical often shows up beside a skull and crossbones logo. That's no coincidence (and you don't want to be getting any of this goop on your skin!)
Phthalates: Carcinogenic compounds found in many perfumed products (and also in bottled water and food that's been microwaved in plastic containers)
Parabens: Compounds that are often found in breast tissue of cancer sufferers. Parabens have been the subject of raging controversy for years. Here's what you need to know: Scientists can't agree about whether they're safe. I reckon, if we're not sure and the consequence of being wrong is cancer, it's probably best to avoid them. No?
Sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate: Both these compounds have also been the subject of much debate. Some experts believe that SLS can cause flaking and premature aging of the skin, it can retard healing in children, cause cataracts with susceptible individuals and may end up absorbed in the body's internal organs due to its low molecular weight.
What's a neat freak to do? Don't worry, there are plenty of yummy smelling options out there. And we got us an expert to tell us all about them. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Angela Mackenzie who runs her own home-made bath and body product line called HoneyFlower.
So Angela, who's been making her own home cleaning (and body cleaning--but that's coming NEXT WEEK) products for years shared two of her favourite recipes with us.
They both smell incredible and are safe for use around kids and pets.
1 cup water
1 tbsp borax
1/4 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 squirt natural liquid soap or castille soap (like Dr Bonner's)
5 drops orange essential oil
Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle and shake before each
In a bowl, whisk together:
1 cup baking soda
½ cup liquid soap
2 tbsp vinegar
2-3 drops tea tree oil
Store in a recycled container, such as a mason jar or yogurt
container. Apply with a damp cloth or sponge to any surface.
So where do you buy stuff like borax? You'd be surprised. This stuff is everywhere. But here are some ideas:
Baking Soda, Vinegar, Borax: Any grocery store (often in the laundry section)
* I'm writing this in response to Mary's comment: I personally bought borax this weeked at Alfalfa in the Marche Jean Talon and I know that Frenco on St Laurent also stocks it.
Castile Soap (Dr. Bronners, natural dish soaps...): health food stores, some pharmacies.
Essential oils: health food stores, pharmacies. Essential oils will cost anywhere between $6.40 to $18 depending on the size and whether it's organic. If you can buy organic, great, but if not, just make sure you're buying stuff that's 100% pure and safe for use on skin. STAY AWAY from the dollar store essential oils--those are full of petroleum products and NOT safe for use.
So here's my question: What do you look for in a cleaning product? Are you a smell person? Texture? Cleaning power? And would you be willing to swap your bottle of Mr Clean for something you can cook up in your kitchen?
(Special thanks to Amy from the amazing Atelier Woodenapples in Parc Avenue for letting us shoot in her space!)
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