Spring Cleaning Challenge

It may seem premature to be discussing Spring Cleaning, especially when we have a major nor’easter forecasted for next week; but I am dreaming of Spring so stick with me here. When we think of spring cleaning, we usually think of cleaning out the garage and switching out the clothes and linens for the new season. We think of cleaning up the yard after the winter thaw and washing the windows. This year, as you start to make your to-do list for your spring cleaning, I have a challenge for you.

I challenge you to take your spring cleaning one step further. Before you start your to-do list, take an hour to look at your personal care and cleaning products you that use in your home and on your body on a regular basis. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you exactly how to complete this challenge, but first let me tell you why I want you to do this.

There are millions of products out there ranging from foods, cosmetics, skincare and cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer, developmental problems, hormone disruption, allergies and skin issues. Companies are not required to disclose all of the ingredients in these products because many formulations are protected as trade secrets. So while many of us are very careful about what we put into our bodies, so many are not aware of the hazardous toxins that they are putting ON their bodies. Both are equally important. Whether is it in their lotion, lipstick, rug cleaner, deodorant, sunscreen, toothpaste, bubble bath or their dish soap, Americans are unknowingly covering themselves from head to toe in harmful chemicals. Every. Single. Day.

Our skin is our biggest organ, and much of what we come in contact with is absorbed directly into our bloodstream. The skin doesn’t have the benefit of the same defense mechanisms as the digestive system and is therefore very vulnerable. There is very little we can do about the environmental toxins we encounter every day in our water, in the air we are breathing, in our furniture at home, work and school and in our pesticide ridden food system. We can, however, control the toxins we absorb by changing the products we use on our skin and the products we use to clean our homes.

There have been more than 80,000 chemicals invented and introduced into the marketplace since WWII, and more than 1,000 are introduced each year according to Alternet.org. Almost all of which, as discussed in this NY Times article have never been tested to see their effects on our health. Remember, the words natural, botanical, pure, plant-based and other nice sounding verbiage used on product packaging is just that, nice sounding words that are virtually meaningless in this industry that is self-regulated. These are simply catchy marketing terms used to make you feel good about the products. These toxic chemicals prevalent in these products can be very potent, even in small amounts. When you think about the cumulative exposure over our lifetime, the reality is alarming.

Diagnoses of cancer, infertility, autism, ADHD, severe allergies and asthma are on the rise. Something is obviously terribly wrong in our environment. Here are some shocking facts:

According to breastcancer.org 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And 85% of these women have no pre-existing genetic link for this disease.

EpidemicAnswers.org considers ADHD, autism, severe allergies and asthma to be epidemics plaguing children in our society today.  1 in 50 children will be diagnosed with Autism and 1 in 10 children will be diagnosed with ADHD.

1 in 4 children will be diagnosed with a food intolerance and 1 in 12 will have a true food allergy.

The government has not passed a law regulating this industry for a very long time. We need to vote with our dollars and buy products made by companies that have our (the consumers) best interest in mind.

So here is what I am challenging you to do:


  1. Download the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Healthy Living App on your phone (it’s free)
  2. Grab a trash bag and walk around to every drawer and closet in your home. Scan the barcode on the products or do a quick search in the app to see how the product rates. The app will give the product a score and rate it in terms of allergy, cancer and developmental concerns. 1 is the best score a product can get, 10 is the worst. I decided I was ok living with 1’s and 2’s in my house, and tossed out everything else. Make sure you look at cleaning products, makeup, lotion, sunscreen, soaps, shampoos, deodorants, fragrances and anything else you put on your skin. In my house, sunscreens were the worst offenders.
  3. Take a look at what you are getting rid of, and make a list if you think it needs to be replaced.
  4. Dispose of the old stuff, and go purchase the replacement products you need. Take the app with you so you can get the product ratings before you buy the new stuff. It’s worth noting that some of the cleaning products may need to be disposed of as hazardous waste, especially if it is in an aerosol can. Yikes, shouldn’t that be warning enough that we shouldn’t be using it?

After you complete these challenge you will have the tools you need to really do the spring cleaning, for both your house and your body.

Here is what we got rid of due to potential cancer or developmental concerns connected with some of the ingredients!

Cleaning Products

When you are done, snap a picture of what you found in your home! I want to see! If you want to know what brands of cleaning and personal care products we’ve switched to in my house, just ask. I’d be happy to share!

Happy Cleaning!



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