Spring has sprung and many of you may be getting ready to spring clean your home. Before you do so, it’s important to know that many household cleaning products contain chemicals that could be harmful to your family’s health. Phthalates are one class of these harmful chemicals. They are found in many types of cleaners, air fresheners and plastic products. As a matter of fact, “new car smell” and vinyl shower curtain smell are due to their phthalate content. On the label, phthalates are often listed as “fragrance”.
Phthalates are currently being studied as anti-androgens. This means that they work against hormones like testosterone. Low testosterone is connected to weight gain and decreased muscle mass in women and men. Studies have shown that the U.S. population has a chronic exposure to numerous phthalates. The studies have linked the chemicals to birth defects in boys, reproductive problems in men, and thyroid problems in both men and women. Low thyroid means lower metabolism with an increased chance for weight gain.
The immune system is affected by phthalates. They create an increase in inflammation in the body because of cell damage and hormone imbalance. This inflammation can also be associated with illnesses such as allergies, asthma and contact dermatitis. In addition, the increase in cortisol demand created by the inflammation causes an increased risk of belly fat, weight gain, and severe hormonal imbalances.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the problems these chemicals can cause, let’s cover a few options you can use to spring clean your home without toxins. Essential oils, derived from plants, are incredibly versatile: antibacterial, antifungal, wonderful air fresheners and excellent cleaners. In chapter 12 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss I outline the different essential oils and their specific household uses.
It is also possible to make your cleaners at home with a minimal amount of energy, effort and cost while significantly reducing your family’s toxin exposure. A basic shopping list includes baking soda, distilled vinegar, organic liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide (35% food grade from a health food store), borax, lemons, spray bottles, white vinegar and essential oils. Chapter 12 also includes some recipes for making your own cleaners, and I’ve included one example for you below. An excellent source of organic dish soap and other organic cleaners is the Vermont Soap Company.
I would suggest that you throw away air freshener sprays and plug-ins; they’re loaded with phthalates. Instead, freshen your home naturally with essential oils, organic candles, potted plants and fresh cut flowers. You can mix an essential oil with distilled water and put it in a spray bottle to spritz on your carpet, drapes and linens for a fresher-smelling room.
½ cup distilled white vinegar
2 to 3 drops lemon oil
Put the white vinegar and lemon oil into a 32-ounce spray bottle. Finish filling the bottle with distilled water. Shake to mix ingredients, and use.