Living with an allergy in the family can be challenging at the best of times. It’s tough to constantly scrutinize the back of every ingredient label, check whether friends have pets before visiting, or decline invitations to activities your child can’t partake in. Most moms of children who suffer from allergies are careful about keeping their home clean and free of irritants, ensuring their kids have a safe, allergen-free space. But what if you’re unintentionally making that allergy worse and harming the environment in the process? Here are some key ingredients to avoid in your home and cleaning products to keep our families and the earth healthier.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
This common ingredient is found in many household cleaners, shampoos and soaps — it’s one of the reasons why your shampoo gets a nice lather of suds, or your bath is bubbly. According to various medical experts, though, prolonged exposure cause damage to hair, eyes and skin, especially for those with skin allergies or problems like eczema or psoriasis. It can cause immunological problems and even cancer.
Safe Swap: Baja Baby shampoos are free of parabens, sulfate, and other harsh ingredients — they also smell amazing!
Ammonia is used in a multitude of cleaners, from window cleaners to toilet and oven cleaners, and is particularly toxic if the fumes are inhaled. Even mild exposure can irritate the throat and lungs; studies show that asthmatics are especially vulnerable to the fumes, and child asthmatics even more so. Ammonia poisoning is usually fatal in children under the age of six.
Safe Swap: Consider opting for the safest cleaning option possible and doing a healthy DIY! The Come Natural Cleaning Set by Full Circle Home has everything you need to create your own safe cleaning products. Do you have a baby at home? Their Reach Bottle Brush is also a safe and effective way to combat milk residue.
This known carcinogen is still used in some aggressive household cleaners, such as mold removers, in addition to many commercial-grade cleaners. It is known to cause headaches and nausea, inflame skin conditions like eczema, and trigger asthma attacks.
Safe Swap: If you don’t want to opt for DIY cleaners, safe products with plant based ingredients are a great option. We love Dapple, especially their Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner Spray.
What Should I Use Instead?
First, be careful with cleaning products that are labeled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ — within the US, there are few regulations as to how natural they actually have to be. Check the label carefully to ensure that they haven’t ‘enhanced’ the natural ingredients with any cheap, toxic chemicals.
Also, don't forget that two of the main culprits for allergies are pets and dust. If you have changed out all of your harmful household products, make sure that you have also taken steps to reduce or eliminate allergies through a vacuum cleaner that is specifically designed for pet hair.
There are many great natural cleaning alternatives – for instance, baking soda and vinegar have a multitude of household uses. Just be careful — using them together actually cancels out their individual cleaning powers and creates a volatile reaction! Remember your grade-school volcano science project?! Lemon juice is also an excellent natural de-greaser and odor or limescale remover. A couple of drops of lemon essential oil can also add a pleasant fragrance to your homemade cleaner without the irritating side effects of chemical fragrances.
What do you think, natural mamas? Do you have a favorite brand of natural cleaning products or a great DIY recipe to share?