keeping it clean

keeping it clean

I know I'm a bit late to this being a co-founder of VTV, but my obsession with cleaning products is almost as bad as my obsession with shoes. But while the worst side effect I am likely to get from a bad pair of shoes is sore feet, the chemicals in my (many) cleaning products could be a real danger to my health.

If you've ever watched Friends you'll know all about Monica and the jokes made at her expense because of her obsessive cleaning. Well on more than one occasion I've been compared to Monica and I take it as a compliment!

I get drawn in by the adverts on the TV promising amazing results and have a cupboard in my kitchen overflowing with cleaning products. Stain removers, drain cleaners, bin cleaners, glass cleaners, oven, work top, stainless steel, silver, copper, ceramic cleaners - you name it, I've got something that will clean it. I pride myself on being able to get rid of any stain from any material and when I'm feeling stressed, cleaning actually helps me to relax.

Recently though, more and more information is being made available about the chemicals in our cleaning products and how they can have a detrimental affect on our health.

After reading this article about the worst offenders, I had a look at the ingredients in the cleaning products I own and was pleased to find that none of them contained any of the harmful ingredients listed. But, on closer inspection, I realised that none of them actually list their ingredients in full! They all state something like '>14% ionic surfactants'. What are those? I didn't know! You have to visit each product's website to find out what they actually contain, so I did. I found one of the ingredients, glycol ether in my oven cleaner, the actual name was di-propylene glycol n-butyl ether, so I had a job to find it, but it was there. Known to be a skin and eye irritant associated with blood disorders and reproductive problems in large doses. And I use that to clean the oven, where I cook food. Nice.

Basically, all of the ingredients in all of my products were just long lists of long names that I couldn't even say, let alone imagine their implications. That can't be good, can it? And the residue from all these products is all over my home. It might be clean, but it could also be lethal!

As the marketing campaigns for cleaning products encourage us to become more and more alarmed about bacteria around the home, there's a trend to use more and more products, meanwhile levels of conditions like ADHD in children are rising. Is there a link to synthetic preservatives and artificial colouring agents? I don't know, but if something has been proven to aggravate ADHD in children I certainly wouldn't advise using it around children, would you? And why aren't these potentially harmful ingredients listed on the packaging? Maybe because we'd think twice about using them if they were?

I have tried using eco products in the past and was brought up in a house where that's all there was. The problem is I still need them to work, and a lot of the time I found that they just didn't match up to their chemical counterparts. But eco products have come a long way since then and the thought of all those chemicals being absorbed through mine and my family's skin, and maybe even ingested, is too much. So I'am now earnestly introducing more eco friendly products into my home.

I have heard you can make your own, but I'm not quite there yet. I'm young, I work full time and have family commitments. Whilst I might enjoy cleaning I'm not quite in a position to spend my day off concocting and testing home made cleaning products. Likewise, a washing up liquid I can only find in a health food shop on the other side of London isn't going to work for me either. I need something affordable and that works that I can buy alongside my usual weekly shopping.

And so my journey begins. I will be researching and testing out a range of natural cleaning products and posting the results on the site in the Care section. I promise to be honest. I won't give good marks for something that doesn't work just because the ingredients are all natural.

I would invite you to take a look in your cupboard and see what's in there, I'm glad I did.

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