There’s new science out that gives women a house-cleaning hall pass OR will compel us to dabble in DIY household cleaners. Researchers have identified a connection between women who use cleaning sprays and other cleaning products at least once a week to declining lung function over time.
The research is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Even though I can’t ignore the dreaded chores indefinitely, the study certainly got my attention. I’ve been sensitive to the odor of household cleaners for as long as I can remember. I get headaches mostly. And in recent years, turning to natural, non-toxic, mostly DIY household cleaners spares my senses and health from noxious fumes.
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Dangers of Household Cleaning Agents
I’ve been convinced for a long time the chemicals in commercially manufactured products are affecting our health. It’s evident in three generations of women in my family. My mother has asthma attacks at the slightest whiff of chemicals, and my daughter’s hands turn as red as lobster claws if she doesn’t wear gloves while cleaning.
The study takes a look at more than 6,000 people; 53 percent women and 47 percent men. The average age of the group was 34 when the research began, and they were all followed for 20 years. Interestingly, researchers found no measurable decline in lung function among men using cleaning sprays and other chemical cleaning agents when compared with women. And, as might be expected, for women whose occupations involve cleaning, the risk of developing COPD and/or diminished lung function accelerates significantly.
Senior study author Dr. Cecile Svanes, says, “We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age.”
The Case for DIY Household Cleaners
We can talk all day long here about the benefits of exercise and eating healthy. But research like this brings forward the importance of environmental influences on our health.
Why risk lung disease when the science is solidly on the side of avoiding commercially manufactured cleaners?
It’s time to explore the power of DIY household cleaners and just how easy and inexpensive they are to make and keep on hand for the next oops on the carpet or nose print on the glass.
Back to Basics
Let’s start with the basics. For all of the “Big 4” cleaners – glass cleaner, countertop cleaner, scrubbing cleaner and shower scum remover – there are just a handful of essential ingredients. This list will get you started, plus 3 glass spray bottles ( I ordered these 16-oz bottles from Amazon, and a glass jar with a lid (I repurposed a coconut oil jar).
- White vinegar
- Rubbing alcohol
- Baking soda
- Lemon essential oil (and/or fragrances of choice)
- Dr. Bronner’s SalSuds Biodegradable Cleaner
DIY Window Cleaner
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup rubbing alcohol
- Several drops lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients, shake well and use on any glass surfaces.
DIY Disinfecting Countertop Cleaner
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup rubbing alcohol (you can use vodka as a substitute)
- 10-15 drops essential oil of choice
Combine all ingredients into glass spray bottle and use on any countertop surface.
DIY Scrubbing Cleanser
- 1 cup baking soda
- ¼ cup Dr. Bronner’s SalSuds Biodegradable Cleaner
- 1 tbsp. hydrogen peroxide
- Several drops essential oil
In a medium-sized glass bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until it’s thick. Transfer into a glass jar with a tight-sealing lid. IMPORTANT: leave a couple of inches at the top of the jar for the product to expand, which happens with this cleanser in the first day. Store at room temperature.
DIY Shower Scum Remover
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. Dr. Bronner’s SalSuds Biodegradable Cleaner
- Essential oil drops of choice
In a microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup, combine vinegar and cornstarch. Stir well. It will start to thicken. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Pour into spray bottle, add SalSuds (or another gentle dish soap) and shake gently to blend. When you use the cleaner, spray scummy surfaces and let it sit for 10 minutes or so before wiping off.