Are Your Home Cleaning Products Making Your Symptoms Worse?

A Clean Place Is A Safe Place

This post is inspired by a recent breakout of hives that I experienced. I was staying at a friend’s house and as soon as I got in the bed that I was staying in I smelled a very strong scent of fabric softener.

hivesI started feeling itchy but it had been a long day and I was very tired and fell fast asleep. I woke up a few times during the night feeling itchy but was too tired to do much about it and was luckily able to fall back asleep.

When I finally awoke in the morning and started coming to, my entire backside felt extremely itchy. I went to itch my back and it felt hard and lumpy. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and I was completely covered in hives. It was uncomfortable to say the least.

I don’t use any chemical detergents or fabric softeners and as a result I am very sensitive when I am exposed to them. I can also tell right away when someone uses spray on deodorant in my gym. If I’m in the sauna and someone comes in wearing it I need to leave immediately because it smells so strong to me and makes my eyes water.

There are 150 chemicals found in the home that cause inflammation and are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological disorders. What makes these so dangerous is that we can’t see, smell or taste most of these, yet they can have a huge impact on our health.

Cleaning products can cause inflammation and trigger your Lyme symptoms.

From toilet bowl cleaners to laundry detergent, synthetic, chemical-based cleaners are an enormous source of health issues and environmental pollution.

For example:

  • Tide laundry detergent has high levels of 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogen
  • Fabric softeners are filled with synthetic fragrances that cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches and auto-immune reactions. They also contain quaternium and imidazolidinyl, which are both formaldehyde releasers and can cause hives on the skin
  • Scented Soaps – 95% of the chemicals used in fragrances are made from petroleum products. Many are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves

You have a few options if you want to avoid these toxic chemicals. One is to make your own cleaning products using a few basic ingredients: lemons, baking soda, white vinegar, borax, and cornstarch. Here’s how you can use them on their own or you can combine for a variety of cleaning tasks:

  • Lemon – a natural acid that is effective against most household bacteria
  • Baking Soda – cleans and deodorizes
  • White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and removes wax build-up
  • Borax – this is sodium borate. It cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, and is good for cleaning painted walls and floors. It also kills many insects
  • Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs

If DIY home cleaning products is not your thing, check out for a great selection of Non-toxic home cleaners.

For more reasons to rid your home of these toxic chemicals, check out this reference from the Environmental Working Group – Cleaners Database Hall of Shame. What they have uncovered should alarm everyone, especially if you are dealing with a chronic illness or have small children crawling around your floors and touching everything.

“Green” and “Natural” are some of the most abused marketing terms and really don’t mean a thing. For example one of the worst offenders here is Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner, labeled as non-toxic and biodegradable. Sounds pretty innocuous, right? It turns out it contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent that can be absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes.

I used my fair share of these products over the years before I knew better so do your homework if you want to avoid additional toxins in your home.

Another great resource is the EWG guide to cleaners.