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Uncovering the Myths of Common Household Cleaners

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household cleanersI used to be so proud of that freshly cleaned smell of a home that had been scrubbed from top to bottom, with a generous spray of air freshener for extra measure!  I was a big fan of my house smelling like a pine forest, or a hint of bleach, or that licorice smell from the new “green” cleaner.  I introduced my mom to that fabulous “green” cleaner and she liked the way it smelled in her house, too.  She had taught me that keeping a clean house was important.  I later thought I was being a good mom when I kept scrubbing the bathrooms with bleach to kill the germs that winter when my youngest daughter couldn’t shake a cough.  Then there was that night she woke up gasping for breath and thankfully we had a rescue inhaler nearby.  Turns out the bleach was at least one of the things triggering my toddler’s breathing difficulties.

As a mom, I still realize that cleaning house is important.  But I’m less concerned about impressing anyone with a “fresh” smelling cleaner to prove that I’ve scrubbed the kitchen or bathroom.  Instead I’ve learned about homemade cleaning and disinfecting alternatives through Women’s Voices for the Earth, and I appreciate the value of simple soap and water.  I’m learning that being an attentive mom doesn’t necessarily mean using those same cleaners that the sentimental commercials led me to believe I needed.

I learned the hard way that I must do more than read the front of the product label with its marketing claims.  I need to read the ingredients list.  Plus, I need extra help from scientists, since the law doesn’t even require that all of the ingredients be listed or tested for safety.  The Environmental Working Group uses the know-how of top scientists to decipher what’s really in our cleaning products and how they affect our health.  This shocking Hall of Shame list contains several products I was taught to use growing up.  EWG, working in the interest of ordinary moms like you and me, is set to release a huge new database to help shoppers make informed choices about cleaners.  Check it out, then decide for yourself what’s best for your family.

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