Skincare and household cleaners have a lot more in common than you might think — especially when it comes to effects of the chemicals lurking in some of the more traditional formulas. And, while we might not spritz our complexions with blue-colored glass cleaners, our skin still comes in contact with the elixirs which, in turn, exposes our bodies to toxins and other health concerns due to traditional household cleaners.
Fortunately, with the demand for natural at an all-time high on both ends of the spectrum, safe products are a lot easier to come by — and you don’t have to sacrifice their effectiveness for a good spring clean. Up ahead, we unpack the benefits of replacing your bathroom bleachers and surface sprayers with natural cleaning formulas, including what it can do for your skin and overall health.
The benefits of natural cleaning products
Swapping your traditional products for natural household cleaners can create an overall healthier environment in your home. Here are the benefits of making the swap.
1. Less Toxin Exposure: Toxins are a major incentive for switching to natural products. “On average, we are exposed to about 126 chemicals per day! That is per day! This can cause a toxin burden on our body and, over time, can cause our detoxification organs — kidneys, liver, skin and gut — to be bombarded with toxins so much so that our body isn’t able to eliminate them as efficiently,” says Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D., a naturopathic physician at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale.
Switching to natural cleaning products can actually help resolve skin conditions.
2. Promote Healthier Skin: Cleaning products can impact the skin negatively, too. And, according to Zenhausern, “switching to natural cleaning products can actually help resolve skin conditions.” This is especially true if you tend to wipe down countertops and other items without gloves. “Ever notice when you clean the bathroom with traditional cleaning products that your hands burn or itch even hours later? Yep, that’s an example of harsh chemicals [such as chlorine] found in traditional cleaning products irritating the skin,” adds Zenhausern. “Not only does it irritate the skin, but being that our skin is our biggest organ, having harsh chemicals on our skin can actually penetrate the skin and enter our bodies.” Once chemicals pass through the skin, they make their way into the bloodstream. These chemicals are often removed by the body through urine or elimination, but they can also cozy up to bones or fat for many years.
3. Avoid the Long-Term Effects: One of the scariest things about traditional household cleaners is the potential long-term effects of chemicals found in the formulas. “We have no idea what the long-term effects of exposure can do to our health,” says Zenhausern. That said, we do know that “traditional cleaning products contain chemicals that have been or are suspected to cause cancer or other hormonal dysregulation.” So, shopping for natural cleaning products can help us lessen our risk of these effects.
4. Protect the Body’s Natural Hormone Production: Hormones are another thing to consider when dealing with traditional cleaners. “Many of the chemicals found in traditional cleaning products can be hormone disruptors, which means they can alter our body’s natural hormone productions. Some of these chemicals decrease our body’s hormone production while others mimic our body’s hormone system and increase the production of certain hormones,” notes Zenhausern. By using products with natural ingredients, you steer clear of these disruptors and protect your body’s natural hormone production.
Tips and tricks for shopping for natural housecleaning products
Shopping for natural cleaning products is a bit trickier than looking for the words “natural” on the packaging, which is why Zenhausern says to always read the labels. “Due to the lack of regulation, a lot of companies can claim they are clean when in fact they aren’t,” she says. Since reading the labels can feel a bit tedious, she recommends downloading the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Healthy Living app. Healthy Living is a convenient tool you can use while shopping to determine whether a traditional or natural product is safe to use. “You can scan barcodes or look up products to see how they are rated by the EWG,” notes Zenhausern. The app also includes a guide to healthy cleaning which showcases some the safer brands and products on the market so you can make safer choices without the stress of navigating the ingredients label. “The [organization] also has strict quality standards that allow you as the consumer to feel comfortable about the products [such as bathroom cleaners or surface sprays] listed as EWG verified.”
In addition to purchasing natural cleaning products, making your own formulas can be fun — especially if you like to get crafty. That said, it is not a must. “I like both, as long as you verify that so-called ‘natural products’ are actually natural,” says Zenhausern. “After that, it’s all up to preference. Some people love making their cleaning products because it allows them to know exactly what’s in their homes,” she adds. For a DIY all-purpose cleaner, she recommends adding a 50/50 combination of white vinegar and distilled water with 15 drops of lemon and 10 drops of lavender essential oil into a spray bottle.
Looking to make the swap? Here are some suggestions to get you started today!
- Swap Windex spray for Seventh Generation Free & Clear glass cleaner
- Swap Lysol Disinfecting Wipes for Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes
- Swap Comet Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner for The Honest Co. Baby Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Swap Pledge Antibacterial Multisurface Cleaner for Method Daily Wood Cleaner
- Swap Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner for Ecos Toilet Cleaner