No to Bleach! A Vegan, Eco-Friendly Guide to Bleach AlternativesBeverlyn Baer
Many of us have learned our cleaning habits from our childhood caretakers. And while some of those caretakers were more aware of the dangers of certain chemical compounds, others didn’t have access to the type of information we have these days. One disinfectant in particular has crept its way into many of our homes under the guise of the strongest anti-bacterial cleaner that can eliminate just about any stain or mess. The ever-powerful bleach is used to whiten clothes and sterilize countertops, floors, and even toilet bowls. What’s more, you can get a gallon bottle with the change you find hiding in your couch. So, what’s the catch?
The Bad News about Bleach
The seemingly magical cleaner known as bleach can be quite hazardous. Unfortunately, many companies that sell it don’t do a great job of emphasizing the hazards that accompany the caustic compound. But with consumer awareness on the rise, the once persuasive 1950’s marketing tactics that caused bottles to fly off the shelf are being challenged.
Household bleach uses sodium hypochlorite (a.k.a. chlorine) as a main ingredient. It’s derived from salt, which may seem harmless, but can actually wreak havoc on your body. Chlorine is a gas at room temperature. On its own, it has the potential to irritate your eyes and upper respiratory system, especially if you have asthma or other breathing problems. And when mixed with certain other household cleaners (e.g., acids) and even certain messes (e.g., ammonia found in vinegar or urine), chlorine bleach can raise blood acidity levels, and have severe impacts on vision, skin, and more.
Pet exposure and animal testing:
Our furry (and sometimes non-furry) friends don’t generally ingest enough of the toxic household cleaner to cause serious concern. However, various animals will react differently to bleach, depending on the concentration of bleach they’re exposed to and their level of exposure. The more industrial, ultra-concentrated bleach can lead to internal and external chemical burns and lesions, and diluted household bleach can cause heavy drooling, skin irritation, and even vomiting.
In addition, cruelty-free chlorine bleach brands are very hard to come by – if they exist at all. Luckily, the disinfectant/stain remover market is growing green with a wide variety of environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, vegan, super effective products.
On top of harming ourselves and our animal friends, chlorine bleach can seriously impact the environment and our ecosystem. On a larger, industrial scale, when bleach is released into local bodies of water alongside other forms of waste, it can cause dangerous reactions that release toxins (e.g., dioxin) that take years to fade away. According to Greenpeace, “Dioxins are amongst the most deadly toxins known to man. They […] have been found to cause cancer and reproductive disorders”. Dioxin pollution is so far-reaching these days that, “almost everyone has some level of dioxin in their blood because the toxic chemical is widespread in the environment and accumulates in the food chain“.
The Good News: Bleach Alternatives
There is hope. The combination of technology, heightened consumer awareness and the drive to live more consciously has helped bring awareness to products and brands that don’t support cruel animal testing and aim to keep our environment and all beings safe.
Here are just a few of our long list of vegan and environmentally-friendly cleaners that knock chlorine bleach out of the ballpark.
If you’re looking for a little help getting your whites brighter, Grab Green makes handy-dandy add-in laundry pods that remove stains, neutralize odors and help brighten any load. They’re vegan, cruelty-free, chlorine-free and made in the USA, and they can be used in most washing machines.
If a squeaky clean toilet bowl is what you’re after, below are a few chlorine-bleach-free, sulfate-free, septic-safe, biodegradable, vegan options:
And if what you’re looking for is a good old home surface cleaner, there are plenty out there that are made from natural, plant-derived, biodegradable ingredients, that will leave your home lightly scented and 100% guilt free. Here are a few for the team:
Dr. Kelly Sims, ND, put it best when she said: “When you chose to live a more natural lifestyle and begin focusing on what you put IN your body, it is just as important to consider what you put ON your body. Things that we put on our skin (if even for a second, while washing hair, for example) are absorbed into the body.”
We can’t pretend that the cleaners we sometimes use on a daily basis don’t affect our health, our friends, or the environment as a whole. If we want to truly live cruelty-free lives, we need to be conscious consumers and support the companies that are working with and for our vision.
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