I’m feeling duped right now. For years, I’ve been using Borax and touting it as an “old-fashioned cleaning” product and one that our grandmothers probably used. While that may be true, several readers brought to my attention its health risks. After doing some online research, I’ve decided to mostly discontinue (* see note at bottom) using this product. Yes, it’s a hassle because I have to change my routine since I’ve used it for several years but the health of my family is worth it and I’ve been busy testing alternatives.
Here’s what I found (I call this “they blinded me with science”)
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is an online, independent resource for consumer health products, lists all of what’s in our cleaning supplies and laundry detergents. They also share which ingredients have been banned in other countries, but not here. They rate the products based on their ingredients. I think it’s important to note that the EWG does not endorse any products or brands.
“EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is an online safety guide for household cleaning products, launched in 2012 to help people find safer products that fully disclose their ingredients and contain fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested. The database combines product ingredient lists gleaned from product labels, company websites and worker safety documents with information in more than 16 standard toxicity databases and extensive searches of peer-reviewed scientific literature. The database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for more than 2,000 cleaning products.”
These are the questions EWG used to rate cleaning and household products:
- Does the product contain hazardous substances?
- Do we know about all the ingredients?
- Do other factors come into play?
- How does this product rate overall?
Here’s the information about Borax from the EWG. It received a product grade of “F” on a product grading scale of “A” to “F” with “A” being the best.
A reader, Brenda, sent me this link from EnviroBlog, which is what got me questioning Borax in the first place. (Thank you, Brenda, for bringing this to my attention.)
What am I going to use for laundry? First, I’m making detergent based on this recipe from Lisa Bronner, the granddaughter of Dr. Bronner. (Dr. Bronner’s products all got an “A” rating.) Really, I’m not making anything, just using a little bit of this and that.
- 1 squirt of Sal Suds from Dr. Bronner’s. I have a squirt top that fits the 32-ounce size bottle of the Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds and this is enough in my washing machine. The “squirt” amounts to about 1 Tablespoon. I’m adding this at the beginning of the load.
- 1/4 cup baking soda. I’m adding this at the beginning of the load.
- to the rinse cycle, add 1/2 cup white vinegar (optional but I do this. I set a timer when I start a load of wash to remind me when it’s time to add the vinegar.)
Also, the super washing soda (another laundry booster) from Arm & Hammer received an “A” rating from EWG and I think this is a good alternative to Borax. After trying this for our laundry, it seems to work well but I have very sensitive skin and it did irritate me a bit.
What am I going to use for cleaning? Since we’ve been using Borax for cleaning the toilet, we tried baking soda and white vinegar (1/2 cup of each) in the toilet bowl and and it seemed to work well. We cleaned the toilet (“we” meaning my kids – it’s an “allowance chore” around here and done on Saturdays) bowl with the baking soda and white vinegar and then used the toilet scrub brush.
I buy only non-processed foods and (I thought) household products for my family that are good for us, good for the environment, and have a good price. I was under the (misguided) mind set that the government was making sure that our cleaning and household products were good for us, too. (Have you ever seen ingredients listed on cleaning supplies?) From here on out I plan to examine my cleaning supplies more closely. Thank you to everyone who brought these facts to my attention.
* To sum up: I’m going hold onto my Borax that I already have and use it to kill the moss on the driveway. Next, I plan to mix it with water to spray on and kill the ants who invade my side porch in the spring. And, finally, if we ever get cockroaches or bedbugs (highly and hopefully very unlikely), I’ll use it to kill those. It’s also good for killing fleas on dogs – or so I’ve read. So, basically, from now on, I’m only going to use it only for killing things. Once my Borax is gone, I’m not buying it anymore.
What are your thoughts on cleaning supplies and health? Do you consider the environment in making purchases?
Go Gingham related links:
Cute and clean for the kitchen: make a baking soda shaker for soaking those stubborn pots and pans
The mop cover is a re-purposed t-shirt: how to make a mop cover
Parenting: Children’s Allowances – yes, I like my kids doing chores!