One of the many ways that toxins and chemicals can enter your body is unfortunately through your skin. This is why so many people have become much more cautious about what they use on it, with many opting for a more natural skincare regime over the usual high-street cosmetics that are normally bursting with harsh parabens and phthalates.
However, many still notice that despite the positive changes that they’ve made, they still experience flare-ups and break-outs, which can be extremely disheartening. One thing that they may be overlooking though, is their cleaning products!
After all, cleaning products do contain a plethora of chemicals that are quite capable of permeating your skin, damaging your epidermis and inspiring an inflammatory reaction – hello dry skin, blemishes and unwanted redness!
Fabric conditioners and laundry detergent!
Let’s take a look at some of your favourite cleaning products and examine how much in common they really have with your old, high-street brand cosmetics, starting with your laundry detergent and fabric conditioner. This is an obvious starting place and many people are already aware of how important it is to choose a gentle fabric conditioner and detergent, especially if they have children or young infants.
If you don’t take care choosing your detergent, you could be in for an unpleasant experience. Most laundry products are fragranced – after all, you want your clothes to smell lovely and fresh – however this has its drawbacks. Phthalates are often involved with artificial fragrances and worst of all, sometimes they aren’t even mentioned on the ingredients list!
Instead they creep into your body through your skin, wreaking all sorts of havoc, upsetting any skin conditions you may suffer from. Worst still, your skin has no natural safeguards against this toxic invasion, meaning that anything that does enter your body via your skin goes straight to your internal organs!1
Washing up Liquid
Another obvious one but bear with us! Sufferers of eczema and other nasty skin conditions probably have it ingrained into them to wear their marigolds when doing the dishes. A wise safety precaution but unfortunately it’s hardly a fool-proof method and unfortunately your skin will often come into contact with your washing-up liquid.
So what’s in your washing-up liquid? Well sodium laureth sulphate, otherwise known as SLES, is often a major component and can be linked with dioxane, a suspected carcinogen! While not quite as abrasive on skin as its cousin SLS, the dioxane involved with SLES can linger in your body for far longer as your liver often struggles to metabolise it properly, making it difficult to flush out this particular chemical.
Not to mention the other dangers involved with washing up liquid – chemical vapours which can be inhaled as steam, irritating your respiratory tract and mucous membranes!
Speaking of chemical vapours let’s examine another, perhaps less well-known offender – your oven cleaner!
Now the odds are that you’re not using an industrial cleaning solution on your kitchen surfaces, however conventional oven cleaners are far from free of the chemicals that plague their industrial counterparts. Say hello to your oven cleaner’s best friend, sodium hydroxide.
This is a really nasty one – sodium hydroxide can be very damaging for your skin if you come in direct contact with it, stimulating burns and definitely inflaming skin that is already on the sensitive side. Even if you do decide to take precautions, you can still inhale the fumes which will then aggravate your eyes and respiratory tract, causing sore throats, headaches and dry eyes.
In fact the fumes from your oven cleaner are often so dangerous that pregnant women are advised to avoid cleaning their ovens whilst they are expecting!2
Who doesn’t love multi-purpose wipes? They’re so quick and convenient compared to soaking a cloth, and excellent at removing dirt and food stains from your kitchen surfaces. Therein lies the real danger though – multipurpose cleaners are used so frequently around the house that most of us forget the residue that they leave behind.
Most multi-purpose cleaners contain ammonia and sodium hypochlorite. Ammonia is a particularly nasty chemical which, when mingled with water, can produce ammonia hydroxide, a corrosive chemical that can damage your skin cells on contact with your body!3
Now this chemical residue has been left on your kitchen counters and surfaces – areas where you prepare food! Not to mention that your pets may also inhabit this part of your house, leaving them vulnerable to ingesting or inhaling these toxins!
Your bathroom cleaners
Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at your bathroom cleaners – your bleach, toilet cleaners and sprays. Well our old friend ammonia makes another appearance whilst chlorine is also present.
Chlorine you may already be familiar with thanks to your local swimming pool and if you have sensitive skin, the odds are you are already aware of how it can quickly dry out your skin, aggravating eczema or causing you to break out in an itchy rash or redness.
This is because chlorine strips away your skin’s natural oils, causing it to lose essential moisture, leaving you vulnerable to free-radical damage and premature ageing. Even inhaling the fumes can upset your eyes and throat, and you are essentially saturating your bathroom in this chemical, forcing your skin to come into contact with it on a daily basis.
What are the alternatives?
Okay so you’ve realised how toxic your cleaning products can be but you’re worried about alternatives – well don’t worry, we can assure you that there are plenty!
For a start, if you have replaced some of your cosmetics in the past, the chances are that you may have experimented with making your own face-masks and creams out of natural and essential oils. The good news is that this approach can also work when it comes to making your own cleaning products. Below are just a few of our favourite recipes that we enjoying using to make everyday household cleaners!
Washing up liquid: We borrowed this recipe from mommypotamus.com and love how adaptable it is. All you need are ¼ cup of liquid castile soap, ½ teaspoon washing soda, 15-40 drops of essential oil, ½ teaspoon of non-GMO glycerine and 1 and ½ cups of boiling water. Personally, we enjoy using Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Liquid Castile Soap and always use a little of Absolute Aromas Essential Lemon Oil for an added touch of zesty freshness!
Oven cleaner: A lovely non-toxic recipe from draxe.com, all you will need for this natural oven cleaner are 2 tablespoons of castile liquid soap, 6 drops of orange essential oil, 1 1/3 cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of organic white vinegar. Here at Jan de Vries, we like to use apple cider vinegar instead of traditional vinegar!
Bathroom cleaner: Finally, adelightful recipe for a gentle bathroom cleaner created by livesimply.me. Once again castile soap and baking soda return, alongside tea tree oil and sweet orange essential oil! We personally would recommend using Absolute Aromas Essential Tea Tree Oil and their Sweet Orange Oil!
However, if you want an option that’s quick and easy, we’d definitely suggest Ecover. Ecover are one of our favourite natural, eco-friendly cleaning brands here at Jan de Vries, and they offer an extremely affordable and gentle alternative to conventional brands. Ecover ensure that all of their products are 100% biodegradable and recyclable and never use any unnecessary harsh chemicals.
Phosphate-free, this is definitely the brand to go for if you have sensitive skin – recently they launched their non-bio ZERO range that includes a fragrance and colour-free washing-up liquid and laundry powder. We’d personally recommend their multi-surface wipes and their oven cleaner, both of which only contain natural plant-based ingredients that are kind on skin without compromising on efficiency when it comes to tackling tough stains, grease and dirt!