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EPA: “The greatest exposure to toxic chemicals is right inside our own homes.”

poison residue on dishes [1]When one envisions clean dishes, they may think of pristine, sanitized dishes left without any reminisces of food. That’s not too much to ask… right? I doubt they would imagine that the soap residue from the store bought soap could be potentially dangerous.

The FDA doesn’t mandate ingredient disclosure to household products. That means that what may be deemed “safe” for one person may be harmful to another. In fact, most commercial-brand dishwashing detergents are made from a petroleum-based mixture of chlorine bleaches and other harmful substances that can cause hormonal disruptions, lung and eye irritations, intoxication and even cancer.

Further, terms like “bio-based” and “solvent-free” have very broad meanings and do not necessarily indicate that a product is safer. Even the citrus- and pine-based cleaners, both bio-based, raise potential health and environmental concerns, and the term solvent refers to a large class of chemicals-ranging from the highly toxic to essentially benign, like water.

The Harmful Ingredients Found in Commercial Dish Detergents

Although the following ingredients are usually in small amounts in household cleaners, over time, they have the potential to cause long term health issues.

Those who created chemical-based household products are putting the population at risk for long term health issues. Consumers who are opening their eyes to the true effects of the harmful ingredients in these products are taking matters into their own hands and learning more natural cleaning approaches. As the adage goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

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There are several simple and inexpensive household substances that are very effective for many types of household cleaning jobs, especially when applied with a little extra elbow grease. These substances include white vinegar, baking soda, mild liquid (e.g., castile) soap, and lemon juice. (Note that vinegar (acetic acid) and lemon juice are acidic and thus potential irritants to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes; concentrated acetic acid may also cause respiratory effects when heated. They are useful for removing mineral deposits and wax or grease build-up, but they should not be used on all surfaces.

Homemade Dishwashing Liquid

6 cups hot water
3 tbls. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
11/2 c. liquid Castille Soap
5-6 drops tea tree oil, lavendar or eucalyptus oil

  1. In a large container, dissolve 1 tablespoon of washing soda in 2 cups of water.
  2. Then add liquid Castille soap, and tea tree oil and gently stir.
  3. Pour into container.

Or, if you prefer tablets for the dishwasher, use a recipe I wrote about in 10 Household Products You Never Have To Buy Again {With Shopping List} [3]:

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Homemade Dishwashing Detergent Tablets

2 cup washing soda
2 cup baking soda
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup citric acid
1 cup vinegar
10-15 drops essential oils (lemon, lavender and peppermint will add antibacterial properties and aromas to tablets)

  1. In a large bowl, add ingredients. When the vinegar is poured, it will create a slight fizzing and will die down within 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add your mixture to ice cube trays, pressing with your fingers or back of a spoon.
  3. Allow mixture to dry in a warm and sunny spot for 24 hours or until completely dry. Remove and add to an airtight container.
  4. Add one tab to the dishwasher dispenser. Also use vinegar or jet-dry in your rinse dispenser too.

To conclude, when purchasing cleaners, look for signal words on product labels. Try to avoid most products labeled “danger/poison” (indicating that they can be lethal when ingested in very small quantities), as well as products labeled as corrosive, severely irritating, highly flammable, highly combustible, or strong sensitizer.

Having a clean home should never cost you something as valuable as your health, but that’s exactly what you’re putting at risk when you use household cleaners and laundry detergents filled with chemicals on the market today.

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