How to Choose Safer Cleaning Products for Your Daycare
Are Your Cleaning Products Making Children Sick?
There are few places where the level of cleanliness matters more than at daycare centers, where children eat, play and, inevitably, put toys in their mouths! Because of this, teachers and daycare providers spend a lot of time, energy and money cleaning floors, tables and play surfaces with strong chemicals, in hopes of keeping sickness-causing germs at bay. Sadly, they could be doing more harm than good; the cleaning product category is, shockingly, poorly regulated and conventional cleaning products commonly contain harmful chemicals that can affect the health of our children and ourselves. You’re probably thinking “I would love to stop using these chemicals, but how else can I disinfect all these surfaces?” Read on for tips on what to avoid and how to choose safer options.
What You Need To Know About Cleaning Product Safety
Like many consumers, you might assume that the ingredients used in cleaning products have been tested for safety. Sadly, because chemical safety regulations are so lax, out of 62,000 chemicals in use today, only about 300 have been tested for safety. Common cleaning product ingredients like fragrances, disinfectants, and preservatives have been linked to serious health issues like cancer, asthma, allergies, and endocrine disruption.
Because children are still developing, it’s particularly important for them to avoid contact with the toxins and fumes in cleaning products, because the harmful effects can last into adulthood. Just one staggering example: research has shown that the cumulative effect over a lifetime of daily exposure to cleaning chemicals is equal to smoking 20 cigarettes a day! And, 40% of US children have asthma and allergies, with cleaning products being among the top instigators.
Top 4 Ingredients To Avoid In Cleaning Products
Here are some of the top ingredients to avoid in your cleaning products:
- Fragrances: fragrance are considered “trade secrets”, which means manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the ingredients in their formulas. That’s how phthalates can be so common despite being known endocrine-disruptors. Phthalates are in fragrances to make the scent last, so they are extremely common despite being linked to hormone-disruption, as well as allergies, asthma, and cancer. Natural fragrances are not necessarily safer, so always seek out fragrance-free products.
- Surfactants: foaming agents used to create those fluffy suds we perceive as “clean,” but which don’t add to the product’s actual effectiveness. A common surfactant is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and it has been linked to skin irritation, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and ecotoxicology. Another big concern with it is the manufacturing by-product called 1,4 dioxane, an ingredient that is “reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen,” and is considered by the State of California to be potentially toxic to the brain and central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system.
- Dyes: artificial colorings and dyes are only added to make a formula look pretty and in no way add to their ability to clean and disinfect. They do, however, increase potential health risks like triggering allergic reactions.
- Preservatives: used to extend a product’s shelf life, preservatives like Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) & Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) are common in “natural” products and are associated with inhalation toxicity, dangerous allergic reactions, and possible neurotoxicity.
An Important Note About Asthma & Allergies
If a cleaner has even one of these categories of ingredients - fragrances, dyes, surfactants or preservatives - then it has skin and/or respiratory allergens and irritants. And if you’ve ever been with a child having an asthma attack or allergic reaction, you know that avoiding triggers is mission-critical! With almost half of children suffering from asthma or allergies, skipping as many of the above ingredients as possible in your cleaning products will help make your childcare center healthier and safer.
A Cleaning Option That Doesn’t Use Toxic Ingredients.
There is a green cleaning technology used in the industrial space that disinfects as effectively as bleach, but at the same time has no toxic chemicals. It’s called “electrolyzed water”, and it’s made by using electricity to change the chemistry of salt and water into a cleaner and EPA registered disinfectant. Because it’s so gentle, this technology is commonly used in wound healing and eye care products too. Electrolyzed water is typically made in industrial-size equipment, but now there’s a small version that’s a small countertop appliance. It’s called Force of Nature.
Force of Nature uses electricity to convert salt, water, and vinegar into a multi-purpose cleaner that’s gentle enough to clean baby toys without rinsing, yet as effective as bleach. It’s an EPA registered disinfectant and sanitizer designated for use in daycares, schools, and even hospitals and veterinary clinics. It kills 99.9% of germs, even Staph, MRSA, Norovirous and Influenza A while being free from toxic chemicals, fumes or residues. It’s gentle enough to be used around children and effective enough to handle all the messes and germs that come with the territory.
Force of Nature is a great option for childcare centers looking to keep children healthy, without sacrificing their standards of cleanliness. Click here to find out more about Force of Nature and receive a special discount too.
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