Natural and Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for Eczema Relief

Among the many varied causative factors of eczema, contact with an irritating or allergenic substance is both the most common and the most significant. Common household cleaning products can contain chemicals and artificial fragrances, which can aggravate or trigger eczema in users.

Direct contact is the most likely mechanism to cause skin eruptions, but inhaling or indirectly touching objects that have been cleaned can also activate the body’s immune response, leading to an outbreak of eczema.

Natural, non-toxic cleaning products can be bought online, in many health food stores, and increasingly, in local grocery stores and big box retailers such as Target or Home Depot. You can also easily and safely make your own cleaning formulas using common household ingredients. This article will outline safe alternatives to chemical-laden cleaning products, helping you on your path to better skin and better health.

1. Air Fresheners

Look at the ingredient list of your store-bought air freshener, and there is a good chance that one of the main ingredients is formaldehyde, a chemical used to embalm and preserve the dead!

Formaldehyde has been shown to increase the risk of cancer and it can cause headaches, fatigue, and skin and dryness rashes, including eczema. The artificial fragrances in air fresheners are highly allergenic, prompting a hyperimmune response, and leading to eczema outbreaks.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Essential Oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, or vanilla.
  • Use 10 drops in 8 ounces of water or purchase an essential oil ring that sits on top of your light bulb. The heat from the light bulb disperses the fragrance more rapidly.
  • Proper ventilation will improve both the air quality and the scent of your home. Read our section on air purifiers for more information.
  • Herb & spice potpourri. Make your own assortment of dried herbs and spices or purchase a premade selection, just make sure it doesn’t have added chemicals listed on the label.
  • Citrus scents are both invigorating and non-toxic. Most natural food stores carry air fresheners sourced from grapefruit, lemon, orange, or lime.
  • You can also use freshly peeled citrus or stud your citrus with cloves for a homemade fresh fragrance.

2. Dishwashing Soap

Conventional dish soaps use concentrated chlorine and phosphates. They are extremely irritating to mucus membranes and the skin. Many eczema sufferers can have an immune trigger from washing dishes with these soaps or from coming in contact with automatic dishwasher liquids and powders.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • A 1-to-1 ratio of borax and baking soda makes a cheap, healthy powder for dishwashers. Most dishwashers will require 3-5 tablespoons of the mixture.
  • For washing dishes by hand, look for a formula made without chlorine or phosphates. Ecover, Seventh Generation, and J.R. Watkins make good products that work well and are chlorine, phosphate, and chemical free.

3. Laundry Detergent

Make sure to wash all new clothes before wearing them, as they can contain residues of the dyes or chemical finishes used in manufacturing. Conventional laundry detergents can be irritating to the skin and have been associated with an increased risk for asthma as well. Several major laundry detergents have dioxane in their formulas, a known carcinogen.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Look for laundry detergents that are 100% biodegradable and say that they do NOT contain phosphates or sulfates.
  • Key ingredients should say plant-based enzymes. Dr. Mercola’s Cleaner Greener is a good healthy detergent as is Eco’s earth-friendly laundry detergent.

4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The two most common toxic chemicals in toilet bowl cleaners are hypochlorite bleach and hydrochloric acid. They are exceptionally dangerous to the eyes, skin, lungs, and liver. Coming in contact with hypochlorite bleach or hydrochloric acid can lead to skin lesions that have been reported to last for weeks.

Unfortunately, these products are often used in windowless, closed spaces, which trap the poison to be repeatedly inhaled. Some toilet bowel cleaners also contain benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene. These ingredients are known to cause cancer-causing and nerve damage. They have also been shown to cause birth defects in animal and human studies.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • The non-toxic toilet cleaners are based on citric acid and lactic acid, naturally occurring ingredients whose low pH works to break up filth.
  • Fragrance should be sourced from natural essential oils, and safe to breathe by both the cleaner and bathroom users.

5. Bathroom Cleaner (Shower And Countertop)

The mold and mildew-removing cleaning products are laden with fungicides alkyl ammonium chlorides. Pesticides have been linked with learning and developmental delays, increased cancer risk, and eczema.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Vinegar mixed with salt works great to scrub frequently used surfaces. A coarse grain of salt helps get hard-to-reach grout and corners.
  • Baking soda and water remove odors and dirt equally well. The best ratio is 4 tablespoons of baking soda per quart of water.
  • Warm water works better to remove stubborn spots. In a hurry, you can add a pinch of baking soda to a damp sponge.
  • Mrs. Meyers makes a surface scrub that is ammonia, chlorine bleach, paraben, and phosphate free.

6. Glass And Window Cleaner

Ammonia and isopropanol are the two big chemical offenders that comprise most window cleaners. Ammonia can cause both lung and skin damage, aggravating allergic rhinitis and eczema. Isopropanol is metabolized to acetone in the body, an even more toxic metabolite.

Using isopropanol in a closed area can lead to poisoning, with symptoms of flushing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. Applied topically, isopropanol causes a loss of protective fats in the skin, making the area more susceptible to an eczema outbreak.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Vinegar works great to remove smudges and leave a streak-free shine.
  • Many commercially available natural window cleaners use vinegar or alternatively, a plant-based cleaning ingredient called caprylyl or myristyl glucoside.

7. Carpet Spills

Perchloroethylene is the main ingredient in carpet cleaners as well as commercial dry cleaners. It has long been implicated as an eczema trigger but is also a carcinogen (cancer-causing) and a recent study linked perchloroethylene to increased risk for bipolar disorder.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Mix cornmeal with Borax, 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part borax. Sprinkle liberally on the carpet spill, let dry for 15-20 minutes, and then vacuum.
  • Club soda can help remove lighter stains, especially if it is used right after the spill occurs.
  • Naturally, It’s Clean makes a plant enzyme carpet cleaner that is sprayed onto spots.
  • You can make a soapy solution with natural dishwashing liquid, but this is best used on synthetic fiber carpets and should always be patch tested on natural fiber carpets such as wool.

8. Hand Soap And Sanitizer

Triclosan, a form of dioxin, is a common ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. It has been linked with hormone disruption and infertility. Triclosan has also been shown to cause immune systems and birth defects in animal studies. If triclosan binds with chlorine, found in most municipal water supplies, it can form dioxin, a known carcinogen.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Old-fashioned soap and water! Use natural soaps made from coconut oils, cocoa, or shea butter.
  • Jason’s natural products make hand soaps that clean and moisturize; they are also relatively inexpensive.

9. Furniture Polish

Furniture polish is based on oil-derived petroleum distillates, which are irritating to the lungs and skin.

Natural, Non-Toxic Options:

  • Scratches in your furniture will disappear with a combination of equal parts lemon juice and vegetable oil.
  • Use a soft cloth to rub in the mixture until the scratch is no longer visible.
  • Daddy Van’s makes an easy-to-apply, all-natural beeswax furniture polish.

Making Changes To Improve Your Skin And Overall Health

This article gave you a starting position to reduce your exposure to environmental pollutants in the home. These changes will reap better skin and better health but there are additional ways to eradicate eczema and feel better.

Read our articles on nutrition, probiotics, and food allergies to gain a more comprehensive understanding of all the different factors which can contribute to eczema eruptions. We also have an article detailing environmental triggers that goes beyond household cleaners to help you minimize exposure to eczema-promoting substances.

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