Oops… who knew?

Go and have a quick look in your laundry cupboard. Make a note of what’s in it. Then go and do the same for under your kitchen sink.

If it looks anything like mine used to, there will probably be some window cleaner, maybe some antibacterial spray, some carpet stain remover… gee, I don’t know what else. But I do know that both my laundry cupboard and under my kitchen sink used to be full of stuff that I’d paid good money for and shouldn’t have.

Why? Because I’d bought into the myth that what I could buy in the shops was better than what I could have thrown together primarily using vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.

This is not about a guilt trip if your cupboards are full of this stuff. But it is about education. We grow up spraying our windows with bought window spray to clean them, or spraying air freshener in the loo, or whatever because we subconsciously absorbed it through advertising or we’re doing what our parents did.

They may have got away with it, but these days we have a chemical problem. We’ve all heard that there are more chemicals than ever in our food, in our water, in our workplaces, in our transport and in our environment than ever before. We need to reduce our chemical load where we can because everything that we take into our body, our body has to process.

Here are a couple of thoughts for you.

If you can smell something, it’s affecting you at a cellular level. We know because to be able to smell something, tiny molecules of that substance is entering your body.

Ask yourself what you can smell right now? Is it car fumes at the traffic lights, synthetic fragrances in the office, cleaning clemicals or your favourite perfume? What you can smell lets you know what molecules are entering your body right now.

Here’s another thought. If someone has a garlic enema (you can google this, it’s not from personal experience) you’ll be able to smell garlic on their breath very soon after. This isn’t because the garlic has travelled through to their oesophagus! But because anything that enters your body affects (positively or negatively) every single cell of your body via the blood stream. It’s amazing. And amazingly scary.

Back to your laundry cupboard. There are lots of toxins in life that we can’t avoid. Just about everything in your laundry cupboard you could throw out today and replace with non-toxic alternatives.

Here are your worst offenders:

  • Phthalates. If something says ‘fragrance’ on the label, it generally contains phthalates. You might find them in your soap, loo paper, air fresener and moisturiser. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they throw your hormones out of whack. A 2003 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health found that men with higher phthalate compounds in their blood had correspondingly reduced sperm counts.
  • Perchloroethylene or ‘Perc”. This one is found in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers and upholstery cleaners and is a known neurotoxin and according to the EPA, a ‘possible carcinogen.’ It’s being phased out because of this.
  • Triclosan. This is found in liquid soaps (hand soaps, dishwashing liquids etc) labeled ‘antibacterial.’ Apart from the whole argument about bodies needing some germs to develop a healthy immune system: overusing antibacterial chemicals helps microbes develop resistance not only to these househhold antibacterials but to the antibiotics we do need! Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial that can not only promote the growth of drug resistant bacteria, but is toxic to algae in streams and thought to disrupt hormone function and is a probable carcinogen.
  • Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or ‘QUATS’ are found in household cleaners called ‘antibacterial’ such as fabric softeners. The same issue applies with quats as Triclosan in that it’s helping to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Quats are also a known skin irritant with one study of contact dermatitis finding quats to be one of the leading causes. As a bonus, they’re thought to assist in developing respiratory disorders such as asthma.
  • 2-Butoxyethanol is found in multipurpose cleaners, window and kitchen cleaners.  Inhaling this one can cause sore throats and load your liver and kidney as a best case scenario, the worst case scenario for people like cleaners in unventilated areas are liver and kidney damage.
  • Ammonia. You’ll find this one in glass cleaner and polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks and jewellery. It affects respiratory functions and will cause breathing problems like bronchitis and asthma.
  • Chlorine. This one is also a respiratory irritant. As a bonus it will disrupt your thyroid functioning. It’s found in your laundry whiteners, your tap water and your loo cleaners.
  • Sodium Hydroxide or lye. Found in oven cleaners and drain openers, is very very corrosive and will cause severe burns. Inhalation causes a sore throat.

Every one of these awful chemicals are probably okay on their own. So if the only chemical in your house is loo cleaner, you’re okay. But if you spray your windows, clean your loo, wash your clothes, use lots of hand soap etc, then you can be starting to increase your toxic load.

The crazy thing here is that we don’t need to! We need to get to work, so driving in traffic is probably something that can’t be avoided, or sitting in a workplace with terrible air freshener, or the hand sanitiser at the wherever, but your laundry cupboard is full of all these extra chemicals that you don’t need in your life. Throw them out. Clean up your home. Give your body a break at the end of the day by allowing it to come home to a place with a low chemical load.

Besides, we all need more cupboard space. Imagine what you could be using your laundry cupboards for…

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