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Battle Germs the Non-Toxic Way: Going Natural for the Health of Your Family

March 23, 2012

Are you a germaphobe and a neat freak? When you’re feeling anxious, does it soothe you to scour the shower with Soft Scrub or disinfect the toilet with Clorox? If you liked to keep a clean house before you got pregnant, your germ-killing tendencies may be kicking into high gear as you prepare to welcome an infant into your home. But temper those chlorine-fueled instincts before you introduce high amounts of toxic chemicals into your baby’s environment. You can keep some of your cleaning arsenal at hand, but your baby’s airways, immune system, and delicate skin might require that you lighten up on the NASA-grade sanitation efforts. Here’s a guide to keeping your home safe and germ-free!

The harsh chemicals in abrasive household cleaners can affect your baby in a number of ways. Certain agents in many popular cleaners can irritate baby’s skin, causing dermatitis, and even lead to eye irritation. Fumes given off by these cleaners can affect your baby’s airways, aggravating asthma and allergies. Products with bleach, ammonia, phosphates, and VOC’s are the ones to watch out for. Consider where you’re using these products and how much contact your baby has with those surfaces. Pay special attention to the areas your children eat off of and bathe in.

For safer alternatives, try Earth Power’s EPA-registered herbal disinfectant, or a non-toxic scouring scrub like Bon Ami. Brands such as Seventh Generation, Ecover, and Naturally Yours make products ranging from dishwashing detergent and toilet bowl cleaners to laundry soap and glass cleaners. Plus, you’d be amazed at the wonders you can work with a solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Check out the Good Guide online for health and safety ratings on all of these products; they even have an iPhone app so that you can do your due diligence right there in the grocery store! Also, you can head germs off at the pass by asking guests to remove their shoes when they enter your home or wash their hands before handling your new baby. And requesting that anyone with a cold or stomach bug postpone visiting until after they’ve recovered is a smart move.

And of course, if there’s an outbreak of stomach flu in your home or you’ve just prepared several servings of raw chicken on your breakfast bar, you may feel more comfortable bringing in the big guns. Just don’t use bleach and ammonia at the same time, as the combination gives off highly toxic gas, and use those the harsh abrasives in moderation. Many household cleaners can be diluted with water and still retain their disinfectant properties.

Keeping a clean house is important for the health of your little ones, but don’t go overboard with the compulsive chemical germ-fighting! A diligent use of natural products, coupled with a bit of common sense, should keep your home safe for your whole family.

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