Why you should get rid of Triclosan in your home
Our Change the World Wednesday Challenge this week is to remove, or begin to phase out, antibacterial products from our homes; specifically those products containing Triclosan.
You might be wondering why – I mean, antibacterial products containing triclosan are good right? They help to keep us safe, clean and germ free.
Triclosan is one of the most widely used antibacterial and antifungal ingredients in household cleaners and personal care products.
You will find it in some hand-washing or dish-washing soaps and impregnated into surfaces such as cutting boards and food storage boxes.
Once touted a ‘cure all’ for germs and bacteria everywhere, there is now concern about the dangerous consequences of triclosan when it is absorbed through the skin and accumulates in the body.
Triclosan has been found accumulated in fish tissue and human breast milk. One of the most devastating side effects of the over use of antibacterial products is that resistant strains of bacteria are developing all the time. This means that bacteria that were once killed by triclosan have found ways to mutate and survive in much the same way as some ‘superbugs’ are now resistant to antibiotics.
Research shows that when triclosan meets with free chlorine in tap water it produces a number of toxic products such as 2,4-dichlorophenol. In the presence of sunlight, these products can produce dioxins. Some dioxins are extremely toxic and are potent endocrine disruptors.[amazon-product align="right" small="1"]184773458[/amazon-product]
Reports have suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform gas, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen. Scientists are concerned that if you use a product containing triclosan, such as antibacterial soap, and then jump into a chlorinated swimming pool, it could produce dioxin on the surface of your skin that then gets absorbed into your body.
Remember that for the majority of people, strong antibacterial cleaners are unnecessary. Coming into contact with germs as a healthy individual doesn’t cause problems. However, if there are elderly people, those with compromised immune systems or newborns in your home, the use of safe, natural antibacterial cleaners can be an advantage for keeping germs at bay.
The immune system is a bit like a muscle: it needs a regular workout to keep it strong, healthy and functioning well. If we try to kill all germs around us and live in a sterile environment, then our immune system doesn’t get the exercise it needs. In addition, most common infections such as coughs, colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. So antibacterial cleaners won’t make any difference anyway!
Get rid of bacteria
It you’re still concerned about germs lurking in your home, there are plenty of safe, natural alternatives to triclosan. We’re living proof! I haven’t bought a product with triclosan in it for over 10 years and we rarely get ill.
One of the most important steps to prevent bacterial build-up in your home is to keep surfaces dry. Bacteria need a moist environment to thrive, so drying surfaces after you have cleaned them means that bacteria cannot multiply.
Combine this with other preventative measures, such as mopping up spills, using up food before it goes off, keeping the toilet hygienic, regularly washing dishcloths and keeping chopping boards clean (especially those used for raw meat). In addition, hang tea towels and cloths to dry after use and wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet and before meal preparation.
If someone in your home has a stomach bug for example, then use a homemade antibacterial spray to wipe down taps, the toilet flush handle, doorknobs and light switches. You can also spray antibacterial essential oils into the air like an air freshener to purify and cleanse the air.
Home made antibacterial cleaner recipe
This is my favourite recipe. We use this all the time at home on the table, kitchen work surfaces, floor and even on hands!
Combine the following essential oils in a spray bottle with 200 ml (7 fl oz) of cold water. Shake before each use or put 1 tbsp alcohol in the water to disperse the oils:
2 drop tea tree oil
1 drop lavender oil
3 drops lemon oil
2 drops orange oil.
Spray directly onto surfaces, then wipe over with a damp cloth. Dry with a clean cloth.
Hydrogen peroxide and borax
Other natural antibacterial products include 3% hydrogen peroxide and borax.
What about you? What natural and safe ingredients do you use in your home to keep germs at bay?