All Purpose Cleaners
By Clifford Woods
All purpose cleaners are soaps and detergents that are multi-purpose. This means that they can be used for various cleaning duties, such as cleaning surfaces and appliances at the same time.
While these all purpose cleaners are convenient, they have also come under massive disapproval due to their high toxic content. Many contain hazardous chemicals and in a bid to keep our homes clean, we are also filling them with lots of harmful toxins. Though the law requires products to list their ingredients, what they do not indicate is the amount of toxicity you get by using these detergents.
It is therefore, up to us to ensure that we know what products to use and avoid.
Some of ingredients to avoid are:
- Petroleum solvents: Commonly found in oil-based paint, paint thinner, spot remover, gasoline, kerosene, and lubricating oil. This solvent can damage the mucous membranes and exposures to paint and solvents have been suggested as potential risk factors of childhood leukaemia.
- Phenols: Phenols are both naturally occurring chemicals and are manufactured by man. ‘Phenol’ is the name of the simplest member of the family of chemicals of that generic name. Pure phenol is a color-less or white crystalline solid with a powerful sickly sweet antiseptic odor. Commonly found in disinfectants. Excessive exposure to phenol may cause health effects on the brain, digestive system, eye, heart, kidney, liver, lung, peripheral nerve, skin and the unborn child. Phenol may also cause genetic damage.
- Diethylene glycol: Is a colorless, practically odorless, poisonous liquid with a sweetish taste commonly found in window cleaners, Diethylene glycol is toxic to the nervous system and has resulted in numerous epidemics of poisoning since the early 20th century.
- Perchloroethylene (Perc): This is a colorless, nonflammable liquid and another toxic chemical to avoid. It has been associated with liver and kidney damage as well as cancer. It is most popular in spot removers dry cleaning fluid and shoe polish.
- Chlorinated phenols: Chlorinated phenols are believed to be almost entirely man-made in origin. These phenols are harmful to the circulatory and nervous system and are more toxic to aquatic life.
- Butoxyethanol also called Butyl cellosolve: This is a colorless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odor. It is a common chemical in the all-purpose cleaners. It’s quite toxic and has been known to damage the liver, kidneys, bone marrow and the nervous system amongst others.
Unfortunately, we cannot list all of the ingredients to steer clear of here as the list is far too long but we can suggest a better way forward, which is using the organic or non-toxic cleaners.
Buying Non Toxic Detergents
There are many non-toxic detergents on the market and the good thing about these is that they are made using plant based and organic ingredients. This means that they are not only great for cleaning your home, but also do not harm your family or pets. They also do not become toxic when they interact with your sewage system or septic and you can rest assured knowing that you are not generating toxic fumes while cleaning the home.
Non Toxic Home Substitutes
There are also ways you can keep your home safe from toxins without spending much on commercial all purpose detergents. This obviously depends on the cleaning duty you are undertaking. Great cleaning substitutes you can easily source from your pantry include:
- Baking soda: This is one of the best multi cleaning products you can have in a home. It’s great for scouring and is a great deodorizer as well.
- White vinegar: Vinegar can help you remove wax build up, grease, mildew, odors and certain stains.
- Lemon juice: Lemon contains strong acids that are effective in cutting grease and disinfecting as well.
- Borax: Borax not only cleans, it deodorizes, disinfects and softens water as well.
- Plain soap: Plain soap consists of water, oil and alkali and has no synthetic additives, making it a great all purpose cleaning agent.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch acts as a great shampoo for rugs, carpets, and windows and can be used as a furniture polisher as well.
As you can see, there are simple ways to keep your home clean and toxic free either with manufactured cleaning agents or non toxic all purpose cleaner substitutes.
Clifford Woods is the CEO of Effective Environmental Services and Organic Environmental Technology
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