We welcomed our second child almost a year ago (what?!) and time has flown by in the blink of an eye. All the while health, wellness, and safety have been popping into my mind pretty much every day and, of course, that includes toxicology. Keeping my family & friends safe is my highest priority, especially during these rapidly changing times, and I’m constantly in search of ways to “clean up” the products we use on our bodies and in our home. As a mom of two, I witness how often fingers and objects end up in kids’ mouths and, even though this helps their little immune systems develop, I don’t necessarily want my kids licking random things around the home willy nilly. So once a week I’ll clean and rotate their most beloved toys to minimize re-exposure, which will likely increase to at least 3 times a week given the current situation. Social distancing and staying indoors much more than usual means that being extra mindful of physical and mental health are critical. I would love to be able to make simple, effective home cleaning solutions, but sometimes it’s not an option especially chasing two little ones around. That’s why I spend my “free” time evaluating product ingredients for safety and staying current with toxicology and general wellness.
I recently attended a virtual webinar discussing the hazards of indoor air pollution especially during the winter when we tend to keep windows and doors closed and heaters going. Indoor and biological pollution, as described by the EPA, includes “bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen.” These can originate from our own bodies, pets’ bodies, dander, and waste as well as plant soil and most of us don’t even realize it. The easiest solutions? Open your windows frequently and go outside! The fresh air and sunlight are natural cleansers. After all, “the solution for pollution is dilution” with fresh air. If you’re anything like my elderly parents it’s easier said than done especially when mobility is an issue. What I suggest for them is opening windows when they leave a room to let it air out. The amount of bacteria and viruses that thrive on warm and moist indoor air is staggering. So if you or someone you know frequently has colds and respiratory issues this definitely applies to you. Furthermore, researchers in recent study on the COVID-19 virus said, “We found that viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel.” Read the full study here.
I write this simply as a reminder to keep hygiene and sanitation top of mind. I believe that as long as we remember to frequently wash hands, especially after using the restroom, changing diapers (me all day, everyday) or touching high-contact surfaces, and not touching our face we can all weather the COVID-19 storm. Check out this infographic on how to properly wash hands! I also highly recommend cleaning your cell phone and keys, which we can often overlook. I see this as an excellent reminder on how basic hygiene can keep us healthy and how coming together and uniting as people with love and compassion for one another will help us come out better than ever.
I recently shared a post on my newly renovated Facebook page a great DIY recipe for homemade cleaning spray for surfaces and toys. This is so timely because I just went to the store only to find pretty much all paper and surface cleaning products sold out. This is even more great because it’s 100% natural and safe for kids’ toys. Here it is again:
All-Natural Homemade Surface Cleaner
1 part distilled white vinegar
1 part water
20-30 drops organic essential oil (I used 15 drops of lavender and 5 drops of tea tree oil a natural antisceptic)
Mix in a spray bottle and keep in a cool dark place to protect the oils from degrading.
Spray on surfaces and toys and wipe with a clean cloth (since paper towels aren’t easy to come by!)
*This cleaner is effective for bacteria and odors and is safe for kids toys, but not advised for inactivating viruses or cleaning porous stone surfaces.