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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Creating a Healthier Home - What I am Cleaning with Now

In my last post I shared what I found when I looked into the ingredients of my household cleaners.  I was really surprised by how much information was not provided, as well as how much affect they had specifically on the respiratory system.  When I started investigating alternatives, I turned to people I trusted.  I found several seemingly great options, but needed to determine what criteria I should use to access them.  That’s when I found an article by OCA that lists specific criteria for choosing cleaning products:

1.    Stay away from labels stating “Danger”, “Warning” or “Caution”.  These warnings provide some indication of a product's toxicity. Products labeled Danger or Poison are typically most hazardous; those bearing a Warning label are moderately hazardous, and formulas with a Caution label are considered slightly toxic.

2.    Look for ecological claims that are specific. For example, "biodegradable in 3 to 5 days" holds a lot more meaning than "biodegradable," as most substances will eventually break down if given enough time and the right ecological conditions. And claims like "no solvents," "no phosphates," or "plant-based" are more meaningful than vague terms like "ecologically-friendly" or "natural."'

3.    When ingredients are listed, choose products made with plant-based, instead of petroleum-based, ingredients.

The two options I decided to look into were:
White Distilled Vinegar:  My mother used vinegar for years to clean EVERYTHING!  She would dilate it with water (1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water), and use it to clean windows, countertops, and the bathroom.  If you can get over the smell of vinegar (or add an essential oil to mask the smell), it is a great inexpensive, non-toxic cleaner.  The only down side to vinegar is that it is acidic and will breakdown sealants over time.  So even though I couldn't use vinegar as an option for my kitchen, I continued to investigate it based on the three criteria given by OCA: 
1.    No warnings on the label.
2.    Though the label on my bottle of vinegar did not explicitly state it, I did a little google search and found that white vinegar is biodegradable within 2 to 3 days.
3.    White distilled vinegar can be made from various sources including malt, maize (corn), and petroleum.  I’ve used Heinz White Vinegar Distilled - 128 oz , which is made out of corn, and a gallon only costs $10! 

Basic H by Shaklee – A friend of mine introduced me to Shaklee products, and to be honest I was a little skeptical at the beginning.  I had used other off the shelf “green” products before, and they not only cost more than what I was already using, they didn’t seem to work as well either. But since Basic H was highly recommended, I decided to look into it.  What
drew me to Basic H is that it is sold as a concentrate for only $8.  You do not use it in the concentrated form, but in a diluted form, depending on the application.  For example, if you would a formula strong enough to clean windows and glass, only add two drops of Basic H into a 16 oz full spray bottle of water.  If you want a general cleaner (like for countertops), add a ¼ tsp to a bottle full of water.  For a stronger cleaner, add 1 ½ tsp to a bottle full of water.  I assessed Basic H in its concentrated form, but you must keep in mind that diluting with water also lowers the toxicity of a substance.  Here is my assessment of concentrated form of Basic H according the OCS criteria:

1.    The bottle of Basic H has a Caution label which states “Concentrate may cause eye irritation. Avoid eye and prolonged skin contact.  Wash thoroughly after handling.  Contains surfactants.”
2.    The label states that Basic H concentrate is biodegradable and contains no phosphates.
3.    Though the ingredients to Basic H are not listed on the website or bottle, a quick email to my friend gave me the following information:
“Basic H is 99.95% all natural and made from:
·         Water-pretty benign
·         Alkyl Polyglucoside (from corn & coconut) – according to Chemir, this is a environmentally-friendly surfactant (stain lifter) made from plant oils, such as corn and coconuts.  They are “highly biodegradeable”.
·         Ethyoxylated Fatty Alcohol (also known as AEs) (from coconut) – this is another surfactant.  There is another blog article I found that lists this chemical as developmental reproductive toxic and cancerous.  Yet my research did not find any of this information.  The MSDS did not list it as carcinogenic (cancer causing).  Also, I found a study by the Human & Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA) that found that there is no evidence that this substance is genotoxic, mutagenic, or carcinogenic.  No adverse reproductive or developmental effects were observed either.  The study also stated that ethyoxylated fatty alcohols are irritating to eyes and skin, but that the severity of irritation is less the more it mixes with water.  The article even states “skin contact…where the products are diluted are not a concern as AEs are not expected to be irritating to the skid at in-use concentrations”.  The study concluded with stating that “the use of AE in cleaning products is safe and does not cause concern with regard to consumer use”.
·         Xanthan Gum (from vegetables) – used as a thickening agent, commonly used in salad dressings.  It is produced from corn, soy, or wheat.
·         Methyl Chloro Isothiazolinone - biodegradable preservative.  Since all the ingredients are derived from organic substances, a preservative is needed so the solution does not chemically break apart before being used.
So what am I using now?  Both!  I primarily use the Basic H and water mixtures since they do not affect sealants.  I bough Basic H from my friend, Mary Bias, a Shaklee representative, in a "Get Clean Kit" which came with three spray bottles and other cleaning products.  But I still use good old fashion vinegar to remote pet odors and stains.  When it comes to cleaning up after my pets, I use what I have known to always work.

I am interested in learning what other safe cleaning products are out there!  If you have products you would like ne to investigate, leave me a comment or email me at



At December 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM , Blogger Mary Bias said...

Nice!!! I love this! Thanks for posting it. Great information!

At December 16, 2015 at 10:29 PM , Blogger Christy Saludares said...

Thank you Mary!


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