Let’s talk about SAFE cleaning, shall we?
We take long showers, change clothes every day and wash our hands regularly. Is this doing us more harm than good?, a 2015 BBC article bravely questions. A moment’s thought is enough to realise that we live in a world that aspires to hyper-sanitisation. From bath soaps to utensil cleaners to bathroom cleaners and washing machine detergent – the promise is 99.9% of germs killed, and the premise is simple: microbes are bad for you.
But there are two counter threads to this discussion worth looking at.
A) A certain degree of contact with the microbial biodiversity from the environment around us is essential to keep our immune systems from going into overdrive and perceiving every little brush with a foreign substance as a threat. This is what is happening these days with the growing spike in allergies.
B) What about the chemicals laden within household cleaners that while keeping surroundings clean and safe from bacterial harm, are doing nothing but wreaking havoc with our health and wellness?
The idea that our homes, workplaces and pretty much all external environments must be rid of every last germ has spurred a culture of over-cleaning that messes with the natural balance of microbiota. It’s why shelf after shelf in our supermarkets are bursting with cleaning products – each one claiming to be better, more sophisticated and reliable than the previous one. The production of powerful antimicrobial cleaning products has profoundly altered the way we clean our homes.
While the idea of a squeaky clean home may sound all very nice and lovely, it’s worth giving the labels of all your cleaning products a closer look the next time you purchase them. Did you know that on average, we are exposed to about 62 chemicals, through contact with household cleaners, that are linked to a plethora of health issues ranging from asthma to cancer, reproductive disorders to hormone disruption and so many more?
Some of the most common ingredients in household cleaning products include parabens, ammonia, chlorine bleach, QUATS, triclosan, and triclocarban, which are all very easily absorbed through the skin and air in varying degrees. Once inside the body, they act gradually, very slowly upsetting the delicate microbial balance within. This balance is not only crucial for our immune systems to constantly learn to cope with toxins, but some of them also form vital helping roles in major body functions.
The human digestive system, for example, is riddled with thousands of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. These are essential contributing factors to our gut health. In recent times, gut health and the presence of these bacteria has been widely being promoted as a marker or good overall health. The reason this is crucial is because these bacteria are responsible for breaking down toxins, producing vitamins and essential amino acids, and creating a protection against dangerous organisms. According to a study that appeared in Nature, at 3.3 million, microbial genes in our gut outnumber previous estimates for the whole of the human body. Meanwhile, more recently, this disruption in the microbial balance in the gut, caused by exposure to chemicals in household cleaners has been linked to childhood obesity.
The key to balanced physical and mental wellness lies in a well-balanced gut. However, when the antibacterial chemicals in something as basic as your hand-soap are found to killing your gut bacteria and ruining your microbial health, it’s hard to choose between health and hygiene. That’s not all. Traces of some of the toxic chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban have been found in human blood, mucus, and even breast milk.
So with this context in mind, one has to wonder what good is cleaning, if it isn’t also simultaneously safe for us?
The real-life consequences what is now called ‘microbial warfare’ can be life-threatening in the long run. In wiping out all traces of microbial presence, we also run the risk of boosting sub-populations that are actually naturally resistant to these chemicals. In a regular, balanced atmosphere, healthy microbial presence would far outnumber these bad boys and in this manner keep us safe from harm. This wiping off of entire microbiota has contributed hugely to the rise of allergies and superbugs.
If this is all beginning to sound bleak, here’s the good news. Despite years of being told that nothing cleans our toilets, floors and kitchen platforms like strong smelling, chemical-ridden cleaners do, the tide is now slowly turning. If the focus is now on restoring a natural microbial balance, the answers also lie in natural means and methods.
At Organica we’re taking this a step further and figuring out solutions for household cleaning products that are natural, safe, and sustainable. ThinkSafe is our range of non-toxic, non-corrosive, ammonia and chlorine-free biodegradable home cleaning products.
Made entirely from plant-based ingredients this is a safer option that will contribute to a healthier home, cleaner environment, as well as better air and soil quality around you. Microbe-friendly, pH-balanced and chemical-free, the ThinkSafe range is built around the need to safeguard and restore the biology and ecology in the areas of use.
It’s great for you: You’ll definitely eliminate the chances of absorbing harmful chemicals through your skin or breathing.
It’s better for the environment: Many of the same chemicals in cleaning products are not only harmful to humans, but the environment too. When they drain out into the sewerage systems, they wind up adding chemicals into the soil, waterways and even the air around us. This too, inevitably finds its way back into our bodies.
It’s great for the community: One of the pivotal truths about enforcing change at a large scale is to seed that change in a small way. If every little home in urban and rural India were to become just a touch conscious about what chemicals are in their cleaners, and choose a natural, safer alternative, it could have tremendously beneficial results on the environment over time.
The truth is, while cleanliness may be a good virtue, science has an interesting view into how disrupting the natural balance in microbiota will always come at a cost. The answer isn’t in avoiding cleanliness, rather to inspect and examine what we put into our cleaning products and to devise ways in which they will no longer hamper the ecological balance, while also providing safe and stable cleaning solutions that do not cost us the environment, or health.