Cleaning The Dirty Dishes

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Any mother of young children knows how much time is spent cleaning up the seemingly endless dishes and clothes! A clean house is important but greater on my list of values, is my children's health and unfortunately in standard cleaning products there are a host of toxic chemicals that we lather on our plates we and our children eat off and clothes we then put on our and their growing sensitive bodies. These chemicals also go down the drain and into the environment and end up in lakes, streams and drinking-water reservoirs.

I believe that for a long time we have confused the meaning of clean. Does clean mean an absence of dirt, replaced by a host of toxic chemicals that links are being made between hormone disruption, allergies, asthma and even cancer.  Not in my mind. Thankfully there are effective gentle options available on the market now which I have listed below.

I choose to use these products because they choose sustainably-sourced plant and mineral based ingredients over petrochemical ones. The fragile environment is considered by with the recycled packaging, without dyes and are not tested on animals.

The products don't include;

Phosphates - water softeners for detergents that contribute to algae blooms which can kill off fish populations.

Sodium hydroxide - found in drain, metal and oven cleaners and is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn tissues on contact.

Sodium lauryl sulphate - a common sudsing agent, can penetrate the skin and may cause contact dermatitis.

Phthalates - Often found in fragrance these chemicals have been linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer in lab animals and to asthma in children.It is also interesting to know a fragrance can represent a cocktail of up to 200 chemicals!

Ammonia - is poisonous when swallowed and is extremely irritating to respiratory passages when inhaled and can burn the skin on contact.

Artificial brightening agents. Optical brighteners leave traces of chemicals behind are what scientists call persistent chemicals. They’re the most harmful ones because they don’t biodegrade at all and actually don't get rid of dirt or bacteria!

Artificial colours- are a cosmetic additive and are not needed for cleaning. These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be carcinogenic, a skin irritant and are linked to allergies in children

The Environmental Working Group has some further easy to read information on cleaning products and harmful ingrediants.

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It is also important to me to be able to read the ingredients of what I buy, which these products all provide. In Australia disclosure of ingredients is not legally required on any cleaning product labels and it is rare you find them listed. This is just crazy to me. Not just because of the  safety of chemicals, when independently tested they are found to contain fillers and bulking ingredients, which means compared to the natural products you need to use more.

Considering the larger impacts, the major costs to our environment are coming from the negative effects of surfactants and phosphates found in general cleaning products. Surfactants are chemicals that reduce the surface tension of oil and water. They are toxic to aquatic life, persist in the environment and break down into additional toxic byproducts. They break-down the protective mucus layer that coats fish, protecting them from parasites and bacteria. The reduced surface tension of water also makes it easier for aquatic life to absorb pesticides, phenols and other pollutants in the water. The EPA also advises that surfactants can disrupt the endocrine systems of humans and animals.

Phosphorus pollution comes from multiple sources, including fertiliser, manure and cleaning products that enter the water through runoff and  causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.  Laundry detergents are now free of phosphates due to a recent campaign. In the US a ban came into place on dishwashing liquids as well, but here in Australia they are still found in high amounts, especially in dishwashing machine tablets.

Natural products that are safe for you and the planet and that are incredibly effective are;

  • VINEGAR,

  • BAKING SODA

  • EUCALYPTUS OIL

My favourite cleaning brands are;

ENVIROCARE


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ECOLOGIC

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ECOSTORE 

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BEE

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SEVENTH GENERATION

(* Their dishwashing machine packs and washing powder are great but I avoid their dishwashing liquid due to some of the ingredients.)

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