Child-Safe Cleaning Products

When you have children, it can sometimes feel as though you’re fighting a losing battle against clutter and mess. If you’re not wiping up orange juice over here, you’re trying to get paint out of your carpet over there. But have you ever taken a moment to ask,“Is all of this cleaning safe?”  Common products contain a cocktail of chemicals that can be dangerous for your kids. Healthy kids trump a clean home – but why not have both?

The Dirt on Cleaning Products

It’s not news to anyone that cleaning products might contain chemicals that are unsafe. You can smell it as soon as you crack open a bottle of bleach or oven cleaner (please, don’t inhale!). In many homes, cleaners are stored out of reach of children or put in locked cabinets – which is always good practice. The problem, though, is that kids are still exposed to the toxins.

When you clean, chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and perchloroethylene (PERC – found in spot cleaners and carpet/upholstery cleaners) emit toxic vapors, which your kids can breathe in. Because their bodies and brains are still growing, they are more vulnerable to chemicals than adults. Exposure to certain chemicals can impact immune, endocrine, and neurological development.

Kids also come into contact with cleaning products through their skin and through residual chemical “dust” on toys, clothing, silverware, and other items – probably more often than we realize. How? Say you’ve just cleaned your kitchen counters. Clean and sparkly, right? Well, your child makes a PB&J on that counter. The one that’s covered in potentially toxic chemicals.

Or she’s crawling and playing on the carpet, which you’ve just cleaned with PERC. The PERC chemicals are on her hands, which will inevitably end up in her mouth. There are many routes to exposure, and your curious child will find many of them throughout her day.

Coming Clean

To ensure your house is both clean and kid-friendly:

  • Use Safe, non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products. Look for labels that proclaim the product, “biodegradable,” “non-toxic” “VOC-free,” “phosphate-free,” “petroleum-free,” or “solvent-free.” Beware of the claim “all-natural.” This alone does not indicate a product is nontoxic. 

Skip products labeled as “toxic” or which have warnings. Also look out for ammonia, butyl glycol, ethylene glycol, monobutyl , chlorine bleach, petroleum solvents, phosphates, phthalates, or formaldehyde. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) issues a Cleaners Hall of Shame, so you can find out which products are the worst offenders.**

  • Read the labels. Reliable, honest companies will list the product ingredients.
  • Use safe, natural products, like baking soda and vinegar, for simple, routine cleaning. Need to wipe up that counter or clean your oven? Try baking soda and water. Got streaky windows? Use vinegar for a spotless shine.
  • Use an effective, non-toxic, biodegradable cleaner for tough stains and odors. Common issues like blood, wine, chocolate, or urine are easily dealt with by using an enzymatic cleaner that contains ordenone.

There are cleaning products on the market that are so safe your child could ingest them without harming herself. When these safe and non-toxic cleaners are sprayed or applied on floors, tables, countertops, toys, and other surfaces, they pose no risk at all.

If we can do anything to eliminate worry, keep our kids safe, and maybe, just maybe have a clean house, it is well worth it!