Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chlorine Bleach - The UNnecessary Evil

There is much debate out there about the use of chlorine bleach (from here, simply referred to as bleach) in the household. I make no apologies for being anti-bleach in my home and business, but I recognize that there are some of you out there who are still addicted to the stuff. Let me remind you that I am not a chemist and some of the information I will give here is gleaned from several sources.

First, the ugly truth: Bleach is dangerous. It is highly corrosive and can cause major, irreparable damage to thin membranes in the nasal cavity, throat, and eyes. It can damage the epidermis, too. Don't fool yourself into thinking that being careful in handling the stuff is enough. An accidental splash in the eyes could cause blindness and contact with the skin can cause burns. Additionally, bleach emits dangerous fumes that contain dioxin, a potent carcinogen, and chloroform, another carcinogen that COULD cause cancer. Inhaling these fumes can cause pulmonary edema. Ingesting them can cause coma or death.

UPDATE:  I recently read a report explaining the very stringent OSHA requirements for handling and disposing of chlorine bleach.  We do not handle bleach in our homes with the same strict guidelines.  Carefully consider these guidelines before using bleach in your home. You can read these instructions here. 

Now, the alternative: I was recently horrified when I saw a commercial advertisement for a common brand of bleach instructing parents to soak their children's toys in a solution of bleach and water to disinfect them. No amount of rinsing will eliminate the harmful traces of chemicals left behind. Imagine what is happening to small children who still put their toys in their mouths! It is commonly believed that serious infectious diseases are only eliminated with chlorine bleach, but this is simply not true. There are so many alternatives that will leave your home safe--both chemical-free and germ-free.

In the laundry try an oxygen cleaner, such as Oxi-clean (or any store brand that will cost less, just make sure that there aren't a bunch of fillers in the ingredient list). You could also keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide near the washing machine. A 1/4 of a cup for a standard load of whites will keep them sparkling white. Baking soda is also a brightener with the added bonus of a deoderizer. My mother recently gave me a box of Clorox2 Color Safe Bleach. I'm not 100% sold on it, but based on the ingredient list it isn't the worst thing ever. Sometimes, a good enzymatic cleaner like Seventh Generation Natural 4X Laundry Detergent is necessary to get out really tough stains.

In the dishwasher try making your own detergent! Read my post Step Three: The Alternatives for an excellent recipe, which is effective in getting dishes clean and money-saving by lasting forever. Fill the little rinse cup with distilled white vinegar--another cost-effective tip--instead of commercial rinse agents that contain, among other things, chlorine bleach.

So, what about those toys that need a good disinfecting once in a while? Well, throw them in the dishwasher. Seriously! You won't do this with dishes, but fill it with as many toys as will fit and run a cycle. Those wonderful ingredients in your homemade detergent will clean and disinfect, while that super-hot water sanitizes. For larger toys that won't fit in the dishwasher, fill a kiddy-pool with water, add a gallon of vinegar, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon each of tea tree, eucalyptus, and cedar essential oils. Stir very well, add the toys, and leave in the sun for a couple of hours. Rinse them very well with the water hose and allow to dry in the sun.

Did you know the sun is a natural whitener/brightener and sanitizer? Try drying your whites in the sun and see how white they look. You do need to be cautious with drying your colors in the sun because they can get bleached out, so pick a shadier spot.

Good luck and healthy living!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I LOVE to find natural ways to clean. Thank you for linking up!