Little hands will touch and grab anything in reach, so it’s vital to keep floors and surfaces clean with the safest products possible.
Historically, families cleaned their homes with natural antibacterial ingredients including lemon, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar. Nowadays, we rely on manufactured products that comprise of extensive lists of chemicals—some of which are potentially harmful.
For children with allergies or weak immune systems, aggressive cleaning agents can do more harm than good. In fact, industrial cleaners have been known to increase the risk of respiratory problems, skin irritations and chemical burns.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named several chemicals as the most hazardous agents to affect our environment, labelling them as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Examples of these compounds include ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus.
Unfortunately, the bleaching and disinfecting capabilities of such compounds mean that they are frequently included in dishwasher tablets, laundry detergents and all-purpose sprays. They are also notoriously tricky to remove from the water supply through waste treatment processes, which often leads to the contamination of integral wildlife.
Another group of chemical agents called alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs)—often marketed as ‘surface active agents’—break down into harmful contaminants and are non-biodegradable in soil and water.
In the home, excessive use of carpet cleaners and air fresheners can cause a chemical buildup. Chemical accumulation is especially threatening to infants with under-developed immune systems, who can suffer adverse reactions as a result.
Eco-friendly market soars
Lately, social awareness on this topic has increased dramatically and the concept of green cleaning has started to spread. Green cleaning refers to using methods and products that harness healthy and environmentally friendly ingredients. It also seeks to promote safe production procedures and use biodegradable materials wherever possible.
Leading by example are several Hollywood stars including Jessica Alba, who decided to set up her own natural cleaning range after her pregnancy in 2008. The non-toxic brand is called Honest and was recently valued at £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion). The first-time mum was inspired to build the company after she suffered with a skin rash when washing her newborn’s onesies.
Making the switch
Apply simple methods to keep your home clean and safe for your little one.
1. Use ‘green’ cleaners
2. Be wary of plastics
3. De-clutter to minimise dust spores
4. Avoid chemical accumulation
5. Keep cleaning products out of the reach of children
This article was first published in Healthy Child with Dr Ranj Singh magazine. Read the digital edition, here.