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When I first heard that Martha Stewart was going to be releasing a whole lineup of earth-friendly cleaners, I was very happy. I saw it as a sign that there’s a glimmer of hope that the mass-market consumer could soon be making small changes for the betterment of the world by switching from toxic household chemicals to safe, yet effective alternatives. Cue doves and Angel’s chorus here.

Well, I was partially right.

Evidently Martha’s laundry detergent is “all hat and no cattle” when it comes down to its claims of being tough on stains. Consumer Reports recently put these claims to the test, and here’s the bottom line on what they found:

Martha Stewart Clean did about the same as (clothes being washed in) plain old water.

Did he just say it performed the same as water? Really!? C’mon Martha, you have to do better than just plain water or else you can’t call it laundry detergent. Those are the rules.

I sincerely hope they fix their product soon, after firing the scientist who formulated it that is, since it’s stuff like this which could turn someone off to something like a safe household cleaner due to their perception that “they don’t work”.

Consumer Reports Review: Martha Stewart Clean Laundry Detergent

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A few days ago, I was my friend’s house watching the NBA playoffs. During one of the commercials, he started flipping through the channels when he landed on a news story about a little boy who landed in the ER with a full blown asthma attack. My little sister teaches 2nd grade so I know that asthma is very common in children, but the thing that was crazy about this little boy’s situation was he didn’t have a history of asthma.

Whoa, he almost died from a condition he technically didn’t have?

After spending 3 days hooked up to a ventilator, he was finally released from the hospital which caused his distraught parents to ask, “How did this happen?”. With no prior history of asthma on either side of the family as far back as 4 generations, they definitely didn’t have the genetics to cause this little boy to have this attack, so if it wasn’t genetic it must have been an environmental cause.

Common Household Cleaners Contain Many Toxic Chemicals

This story went on to talk about about some statistics that are pretty crazy, but not entirely surprising:

  • One in thirteen kids has asthma.
  • Asthma attacks are the #1 reason school-age children are brought to the ER.
  • The rate of children under the age of 5  increased 160% from 1980-1994.
  • In 2005, there were 218,316 reported poison exposures from common household cleaners.
  • Over the past 30 years, there have been over 81,000 new chemicals registered with the EPA, but less than 20% have been tested for toxicity.

What it boils down to is we’re currently conducting a massive toxicity experiment with our families acting as the guinea pigs.

So what can we do?

Excellent question, my astute friend!

I found a very cool online database that has been put together by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which lists many harmful chemicals and the products that contain these substances. So for the sake of brevity, if you’re into that sort of thing, I’ve put together a list of 3 common chemicals found in many cleaners (among other things) that you can avoid to start doing something simple to help your family live a healthier life.

Because if something ever happened to you, I’d be sad. : (

Sodium Hydroxide

  • Immediate respiratory irritant (scientifically speaking, it makes your lungs feel crappy).
  • Harmful to your lungs, eyes, mouth, skin, and throat.
  • Can cause kidney and liver damage.
  • Commonly found in tub/tile/toilet bowl/oven cleaners, batteries, dish liquids, some laundry detergents, scouring cleaners, and some laundry pre-spotters.

Hydrochloric Acid

  • Very powerful acid that you probably remember from 7th grade science class.
  • Causes severe skin damage in a short amount of time if exposed.
  • Vapors are harmful to your lungs and the rest of your respiratory system (basically anything it touches is more accurate).
  • Usually fatal if swallowed.
  • Commonly found in toilet bowl and oven cleaners, but is also found in some odor eliminators.

Buytl Cellosolve (2-Butoxyethanol)

  • Very harsh respiratory irritant.
  • Commonly found in all-purpose and window cleaners, spray paint, auto care products, wood stains, carpet shampoos, and de-greasers.

Even though it’s just the tip of the iceberg, by avoiding products that contain these harmful chemicals and switching to safe alternatives, you and your entire family will be able to breathe easier.

See what I did there? I’m a journalistic genius.

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