Household Detox Part 3: A Chemical-Free Cleaning Solution
The Problem with Most Cleaning Products
As you may know, we are in the midst of a "Household Detox" blog series. When I started my own journey to detoxify our home several years ago, it was a very laborious process as I quickly discovered that I was surrounded by products containing carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disrupters, and respiratory, organ and reproductive system toxins. I have struggled with PCOS and other genetic conditions and hormonal imbalances which, if they weren't caused by a lifetime of exposure to and application of these chemicals and toxins, they most certainly heightened my sensitivity and worsened my condition.
But you don't have to necessarily experiencing symptoms as severe as mine before you consider switching out your household cleaning cabinet. According to EWG, (Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment) many of the most popular cleaning products contain ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer, asthma, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity and allergic reactions to name a few. These ingredients even show up in so-called "natural" brands, therefore contributing to "Green-Washing" of the consumer.
This isn't something to take lightly. As I mentioned in a previous post, more and more children are starting puberty at the strikingly young age of 7 or 8, which has been linked to endocrine disruption caused by exposures to chemicals such as those found in your household cleaning supply.
Once I made the decision to trash these products, the process of finding safe replacements that actually work was seriously challenging. This series is meant to summarize my findings and recommend the amazing, toxic-free replacements that work, and work well!
EWG released a Cleaners Database Hall of Shame, which puts some well known products and their harmful ingredients on display. Click the link to review the full list, but, they include brands such as:
- Simple Green
- Mr. Clean
- Scrubbing Bubbles
Go to EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning to simply type in your household cleaners and see what the rating is and why. Most products by popular brands like Tide, ALL, Windex, Dawn, Method, etc. received ratings of D or F for containing dangerous ingredients.
Now here's where I may touch some nerves:
Bleach is a cleaning agent found in the majority of all homes. This product is extremely corrosive and toxic to your eyes, skin and respiratory system simply by just releasing the fumes by opening the bottle. The recommended use of this product calls for covering of the mouth and wearing gloves. If it comes into contact with some other cleaning ingredients, like ammonia, the fumes then become potentially lethal.
I don't know about you, but that's not the kind of product I want in my home, especially with children around. And what I've found over the past few years is I don't need it.
Also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate. Many DIY Green cleaners call for Borax but it's a highly controversial ingredient. It is toxic if inhaled or ingested, and a skin and eye irritant. Not to mention, consistent exposure leads to...you guessed it: Endocrine disruption.
Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you Vinegar is toxic, though it is an eye, skin and respiratory system irritant. Since vinegar is acidic, you definitely should not use it to clean your hardwood floors. It actually starts to break down the protective coating on the wood which will ultimately leave your hardwood dull as the coating erodes.
For further reading, here's a "short" list of some of the chemicals to avoid and where they are found:
When you clean your kitchen area; counters, tables, dishes and utensils, etc., with conventional cleaners, they are potentially becoming covered in cleaning residue with dangerous ingredients. The kitchen should be a chemical-free zone as it is where you prepare and eat food!
Your respiratory system and allergies can be negatively affected by the mist created by these same cleaners or others throughout the house. You could be marinating in toxins when you fill your bathtub with water for a relaxing soak.
If you have children in your home, think of the toys you clean which inevitably end up in their mouth, or the floor where they may drop food before they pick it right up and eat it (my daughter does this daily!).
A Solution to the Problem
If so many of the cleaning supplies contain harmful ingredients, does it mean they are necessary to maintain a "clean" home? Nope.
5 months ago, I discovered the Branch Basics soap concentrate and began my own use and evaluation. Unlike other non-toxic cleaners, Branch Basics is 100% plant-based with no harmful or synthetic ingredients.
After trying a series of other non-toxic cleaners, I was expecting mediocre results. But I'm happy to say, I am a full convert as this soap concentrate has replaced all my cleaners in my home...and out of the home: I don't even wash my hands with soap in public restroom or someone elses home, I just bring my travel size Branch Basics with me.
The soap comes as a concentrate which you dilute for use around the house. While you can certainly use your own spray bottles, the company provides bottles with helpful labeling to determine how much soap to add for specific uses.
The foamer bottles are my daughter's personal favorite as she loves the foamy substance which makes for the truest form of good, clean fun.
Though after our most recent crayon incident involving our ottoman, our 22-month old immediately ran and grabbed the Branch Basics and a rag!
How we use Branch Basics on a regular basis
- All-Purpose Dilution
- Kitchen area; counters, sink and appliances (even cleans up raw chicken residue! Just let soak for 5-10 minutes to allow the soap and plant enzymes to go to town!)
- Coffee Machine
- Carpet stains
- Crayon and Marker removal
- Fruit and Veggies
- Bathroom Dilution
- Toilet (including our daughter's potty)
- Tile and grout
- Mildew Remover (In the Shower or my water pitcher lid - I let it soak for a bit then scrub it off)
- Streak-Free Dilution
- Foamer Dilution
- Hand soap
- Body Wash
- There have been times when my daughter needed a bath and we simply didn't have time. We used the foamer while she was laying on a towel, then wiped her with a wet washcloth)
- Diaper wipe
- I pump onto a disposable washcloth for poopy diapers
- Concentrate (No dilution)
- Laundry Detergent (They recently released an Oxy-Boost as well)
- Stainless steel (on a microfiber cloth)
- Dish soap
- Travel Size - On the Go Cleansing of:
- Stain Remover (I have success removing clothing stains with this concentration and using a brush like this one then washing with the detergent listed above)
- Hands (no rinsing required)
- Boo-boos and scrapes
- Restaurant tables (I cringe at the site of their washcloths of death)
- Basically anything else particularly disgusting
For a full list on the soap's capabilities, including ovens, automobile and pet-care, check out their user guide.
I waited several months before writing a review so I could see how this cleaner truly holds up over time. I can now say with confidence that this stuff is the real deal. It has proven to be:
- Human and Pet Safe
- No warning labels, safe enough to ingest with no harm
- One product for everything
- The high-quality, refillable bottles and foamers are meant to be used over and over
- The average household spends $600/year buying conventional cleaners. Using Branch Basics as recommended can save 50%+ on your cleaning supplies.
- Strong enough to wash your car engine but safe enough for your baby's skin
- More than just Soap
- Branch Basics strives to be a resource for you with articles and newsletters providing invaluable information for transformed lives
- If you are not satisfied with the cleaning ability of Branch Basics, they will refund your money within 180 days. That's a big guarantee!
I recently reached out to the Branch Basics team to discuss this article and was connected with one of the founders, Allison Evans. I discovered she had a story similar to mine; a body that was breaking down and dumbfounding doctors, only to improve once she removed the toxic chemicals from her life and changed her diet. Read more about her story here.
This company started with a mission to serve households by providing a universal solution to a common and silent problem. After learning more about them as a company and discovering not only did their product revolutionize the cleanliness of our home, but their mission and values are ones I can get behind.
I recommend the Starter Kit, because of the value, plus you'll get free shipping. It comes with 32 oz. of soap concentrate, 3 dilution-specific spray bottles and a foamer bottle.