Now that we’re through Daylight Savings Time, there’s only one more step left before we’re ready for the warmer weather: spring cleaning! But not all cleaning products are created equal, and some can even make you sick.
Hate it or love it, spring cleaning is just one of those things that everyone ought to do. Besides being good for your home, it boasts a diverse range of additional perks, as StyleCaster and Good Housekeeping both point out. On the practical side, those perks include getting rid of harmful dust mites — and on the sillier side, it offers the perfect opportunity to listen to your favorite music, put on your comfiest clothes, and spend a day with just your thoughts.
Now that we’ve convinced you to pick up the rubber gloves and the cleaning supplies, there’s something else you should know: some of the heavy-duty products you tend to break out this time of the year contain dangerous chemicals, and if you’re not careful, they can wreak havoc on both your clothes (the old bleach-on-the-jeans look) and your health. Here are seven in particular to consider avoiding — as well as some safer alternatives — so you can usher in a healthy, worry-free spring!
You probably remember scenes from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Michael Constantine uses Windex to solve virtually every kind of health problem, “from psoriasis to poison ivy.” Let us confirm what you probably already knew: Windex is not to be used for home remedies. As NYU professor of dermatology Darrell Rigel says, ammonia (found in many window cleaners) is “extremely caustic” and can lead to nausea, headaches, and an elevated heart rate.
Along with ammonia, many oven cleaners contain lye, a caustic chemical also used in soap (but don’t worry about that — the lye will become harmless glycerin by the time the saponification process is finished). Lye is an obvious choice for cleaning ovens because it converts the grease into soap, which is then easily wiped off; however, it can be quite dangerous when it comes into contact with your skin or eyes, or if its fumes become too strong.
Alternative: Working in a well-ventilated area with gloves and protective eyewear is strongly suggested when using a product containing lye, but you can also follow Yum Universe’s recipe for homemade oven cleaner with easy-to-find household ingredients.
For some of us, there’s something that’s just irresistible about the scent of laundry fresh from the dryer. It’s warm and comforting — and potentially dangerous. Why? It’s actually a mix of several things: added stabilizers (which help the product last longer), brighteners and phosphates (used to help keep the dirt from settling back into clothes during the wash cycle). This blend can negatively affect eye and lung functions and harm both developmental and reproductive systems, according to a 2011 study conducted at the University of Washington.
Alternative: We’re not suggesting that you steer clear of washing your clothes altogether, but DIYing your detergent and treating stains naturally is healthier and cheaper!
Toilet Bowl Cleaners
While the biggest threat posed by toilet bowl cleaners only crops up when you swallow it, the product doesn’t have to be ingested to be harmful. Often containing hydrochloric acid and a mix of other harmful chemicals, toilet bowl cleaners can be corrosive when left on your skin, and cause serious damage if they get in your eyes.
Alternative: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list featuring most of the products that are known to contain hydrochloric acid. If you want to avoid them altogether, Grist.com lists their favorite green cleaners.
It may seem counterintuitive that spray disinfectants would make the list of dangerous household cleaning items, but here they are! Their dangers are twofold: first, not letting your body fight bacteria on its own makes it less effective when it actually comes into contact with it. Secondly, low levels of disinfectant can actually make certain bacteria so strong that they become resistant to antibiotics!
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: along with the bacteria-killing chemicals, many brands sneak in other chemicals like Triclosan, which has been shown to kill human cells as well as bacterial ones.
By now you might consider skipping out on spring cleaning altogether, just because of all the chemicals found in many household products. Instead, choose natural alternatives or make your own products to guarantee you’ll start your spring off clean and healthy.
But if you do find yourself feeling a bit ill after scrubbing those stains away, SingleCare can connect you with the doctor that’s best for you and your budget. By charging only for the care you need, SingleCare members pay, on average, 48% less than those with insurance. Now without further ado, it’s time to get ready for those easy, breezy spring days.
* Prescription savings vary by prescription and by pharmacy, and may reach up to 80% off cash price.
This is a medical discount plan.This is NOT insurance. This program offers you the opportunity to locate providers of various types of medical services who will offer their services to you at discounted rates. The range of discounts for medical or ancillary services provided under the plan will vary depending on the type of provider and service received. You are fully responsible for paying for all health care services but will be entitled to receive a discount from those health care providers in accordance with the specific pre-negotiated discounted fee schedule. This program does not guarantee the quality of the services or procedures offered by the providers. Except for prescription drugs which you will pay directly to the pharmacy at the time of purchase, all other services received through a program provider will be charged to the credit card on file in your member account. The charge will include an administrative fee for use of the program. Towers Administrators LLC is the licensed discount medical plan organization with its administrative office located at 4510 Cox Road, Suite 111, Glen Allen, VA 23060. SingleCare Services, LLC is the marketer of the discount medical plan organization including its website, singlecare.com, with its corporate office located at 99 High Street, Suite 2800, Boston, MA 02110. For additional information, including an up-to-date list of providers, or assistance with any issue related to program membership, please contact member support any time at www.singlecare.com, or by calling toll-free 844-234-3057, Monday through Friday 9am-9pm EST.