By Mark DeNicola
Chlorine Bleach. In many households it is one of the most commonly used and relied upon cleaners. It is most infamously known for it’s ability to keep clothes white, to assist in removing mold and mildew from a shower or tub and it’s disinfectant properties. For these specific purposes chlorine bleach certainly can be classified as effective, but for quite sometime now the negative side effects and potential dangers to using this cleaning product have been discussed in the public spotlight.
The most obvious danger of Chlorine Bleach is printed clearly on the label. It is a heavily corrosive material capable of irritating the eyes, skin and respiratory tract often by simply inhaling the gases its use emits. This inhalation has been noted to deteriorate the lungs and esophagus lining in addition to the scarring of the respiratory tract that I previously mentioned. These side effects may not occur to a visibly notable extent with each exposure to bleach, but the chemicals impact is never favourable, especially over a long period of time.
It is important to note that there is no FDA-type organization that regulates the cleaning products that are brought into your home. Instead groups such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) make warnings of the use of Chlorine Bleach publicly available. Under the assumption that consumers will continue to use Chlorine Bleach within their households, the following safety precautions are widely recommended:
- Dilute the chlorine bleach with water. The lower concentration poses a potentially lesser risk of unwanted exposure.
- Wear a safety mask and rubber gloves when working with bleach as a preventative measure.
- Only use chlorine bleach in a well ventilated area to allow for sufficient air flow and to prevent the unwanted gasses from remaining stationary in the working space.
- Never mix chlorine bleach with any other household cleaners.
The fourth and final recommendation is particularly worth noting because mixed with common ingredients -such as ammonia -found in many other household cleaners the fumes produced can become even more lethal and potentially fatal. Nose bleeds, neurological disorders, headaches, shortness of breath and chest pain, are just a small number of the potential side effects that can be experienced.
As helpful as these safety precautions can be, why not just stop using bleach altogether? Thankfully there are healthy alternatives to not only chlorine bleach but pretty well every toxic cleaning product out there. I can’t possibly share every alternative within this article but I would like to share a couple that I have come across and I invite you all to contribute your own findings through the comment section of the article.
Bleach Alternative (Source: Grit.com)
Mix 12 cups water, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 cup hydrogen peroxide. Add 2 cups per wash load or put in spray bottle and use as a household cleaner.
Whitening Scouring Powder (Source: Gaiam Life)
Combine 1 cup baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1/8 cup borax, 1/4 cup grated lemon, orange or grapefruit peel and mix well. Scrub using a damp sponge.
Natural Orange All-Purpose Cleaner
As a part of the March Issue of CE Magazine, Alanna from the CE Team shared with readers a great all-purpose cleaner that is safe and easy to make at home.
Step 1: Save enough orange peels to fill a 1-liter mason jar
Step 2: Pour in 500mL (2 Cups) of white vinegar
Step 3: Seal the jar and let it sit in your cupboard or on your counter for 2 weeks
Step 4: Open the jar and remove the orange peels, keeping the liquid.
Step 5: Mix water with orange liquid solution, 4 parts water for every 1 part solution in a spray bottle. Clean away!
The Power of Baking Soda, White Vinegar & Lemon
These simple and non-corrosive or hazardous ingredients are true powerhouses when it comes to cleaning around the house. Baking soda is great for removing odors and freshening fabrics, lemon juice is fantastic for cutting through grease and white vinegar mixed with water is an awesome ammonia-free glass cleaner.
Just as we have discovered with chlorine bleach, there are always alternatives. Be sure to conduct your own research and make informed decisions about the things that you bring into your house and expose you and your loved ones to. Keep in mind that your understanding should always go beyond the label! Even cleaning products that are labelled as “natural,” “healthy,” or “organic” should always be looked into and thanks to the internet that information is most often readily available.
I’d like to finish off by sharing a brief list of particular chemicals that numerous sources within my research have posted as being important to look out for: Diethylene Glycol, Nonylphenol Ethoxylate, Ammonia, Perchloroethylene, Butyl Cellosolve, Formaldehyde, Methoxychlor, Naphthalene, Sulfuric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Chloroform, Nitrobenzene, Dried Chlorine.