DIY Non-Toxic Cleaners For the Nursery
It's no big surprise that most of us would assume popular household cleaners are completely safe and harmless. It seems like it would be illegal if they weren't – right? The sad reality though, is that many cleaners contain chemicals that are dangerously toxic - especially for babies. Some of the most popular household cleaning supplies include a litany of risky chemicals, but we don't even know what they could be because they aren't required to list them on the label. But have no fear - our guide to DIY non-toxic cleaners for the nursery is here! Read on to learn about some common hidden toxins in store-bought cleaners and to see our favorite DIY non-toxic alternatives.
Hidden Toxins in Household Cleaners
We've all read the ingredients of a product and come across plenty of words that make us think, "What the heck is that?" It's easy to assume that if a product is popular, it must be fine, and toss it in the cart. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of those typo-looking words on the bottle. Store brand cleaning solutions oftentimes include the following harmful chemicals:
- Phthalates - If the product in question is marked anywhere with the word "fragrance," it's likely to contain phthalates. Companies aren't required to disclose what chemicals are in their fragrances, so even an "all-natural" product with undisclosed fragrance could contain this chemical. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, meaning the chemical can cause fertility issues – particularly in men.
- 2-Butoxyethanol - Another chemical common in multipurpose household cleaners, 2-Buto can cause sore throats when inhaled in small doses; at high levels, glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict standards on 2-Buto exposure in the workplace - but if you're using this chemical to clean a confined and low-ventilated area, you may actually be breathing in 2-Buto at levels higher than the workplace safety standard.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies on the American market found even more disturbing health impacts. EWG concludes that:
- Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.
- Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
- Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.
- Some cleaners can cause chemical burns and poisonings as well as less severe irritations and allergies. Severe physical reactions signal that consumers should take care anytime they use these products.
DIY Non-Toxic Alternatives
Whew! Got that over with. Now that you know the sad truth about conventional cleaners, you'll be happy to hear this: DIY cleaners are safe, totally effective, and cost-efficient alternatives. Triple win. Read on for our favorite DIY non-toxic cleaners, perfect for completely guilt-free cleaning of the nursery.
DIY Non-Toxic Fabric Softener
Easy to make, low-cost, and customizable, these fabric-softening crystals from Everyday Roots will leave your laundry soft and smelling lovely. Ingredients include:
- 2 cups of Epsom salt (or coarse sea salt)
- 20 drops of your favorite essential oils
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Container with tight-fitting lid
The baking soda added in will naturally make whites whiter, and pull out even the toughest stains. This natural softener is perfect for baby's clothes and linens, since it's irritant-free.
DIY Citrus-Infused Natural Cleaning Spray
An easy, affordable alternative to toxic multipurpose cleaning sprays is this citrus and vinegar spray. As a bonus, making this cleaner means making use of citrus peels that would otherwise be tossed away. The cleaner costs pennies to make, smells great, and is a natural disinfectant.
Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaning
With babies and kids, carpet stains can become an all-too-frequent problem. In order to avoid harmful chemicals like Perc (in many carpet cleaners), check out Wellness Mama's blog post on DIY non-toxic carpet cleaning. You'll learn about multiple options for natural carpet cleaning, including:
- Sprinkling baking soda as a pre-treatment for fresh spills
- Vinegar soaks for gradual removal of tough stains
- General carpet cleaning using water and 1 drop Sals Suds liquid in a steam cleaner
DIY Easy Natural Wood Cleaner and Polish
To clean unfinished/unpainted wood, you'll want to use a cleaner specially designed for wood and wood polishing. Olive oil and lemon juice are all you need to make your own non-toxic wood cleaner and polish for safe cleaning of any wood nursery furniture. Simple and easy (and smells great)!
DIY Non-toxic Clothing Stain Remover
Nothing says new baby like new stains on everyone's clothing. Many store-bought stain removers can contain the Perc chemical mentioned above. Check out these step-by-step instructions for creating your own non-toxic stain remover to keep on hand in your laundry room.
(*Note: instead of Dawn, we recommend using a non-toxic dish soap such as Planet 100% Biodegradable Dish Soap.)
We hope we've shown how easy it can be to clean baby's nursery using DIY and non-toxic cleaning solutions! Do you have any favorite non-toxic cleaning methods? Please share them with us in the comments below.