Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Antibacterials Out

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SPRING CLEANING BUTTON Welcome, spring! If you’re not from Michigan, spring may be a season that speaks of flowers, sunshine, and green leaves on trees. Around here, it’s just confusion, all the time. Case in point: Thursday, we were easily outside in short sleeves. Saturday we woke up to snow on the ground. What season is this?

Even here, we are starting to get more sunshine than during the dreary winter months. As soon as it hits 40 degrees outside, folks are putting their car windows down, and by 50 or 60, we’re opening our front doors for a while just to catch some rays through the storm windows. It gets me motivated to weed out some clutter in all areas of my life.

Thank you for visiting the Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out! Carnival for our first link-up opportunity: get the antibacterials out. You can see all the topics here and a list of the star-studded hostesses from all over the blogosphere.

My Story: Why I Talk About Soap

I’ve been enamored with soap and how it works ever since a science class in college, where I conducted independent research on whether antibacterial soap is more effective than regular soap. I wrote about the experiment and findings yesterday; it’s a must read if you have a closet science geek in you!soap

I think being clean is important, don’t get me wrong. I wash my kids’ hands after we get home from library storytime and before we eat…most of the time. I don’t freak out if I forget though. I use a shopping cart cover and cringe if a little boy sneezes on my daughter’s head. On the other hand, academically I know that a little exposure to bacteria will only make our immune systems stronger, and we’ll survive a cold, or even (*tremble, shudder*) a throw-up bug. The healthy immune system line is a great excuse for not dusting regularly, by the way. 😉  (Photo by KatieW)

Even more importantly, I understand that our bodies are host to literally trillions of good bacteria that keep us ticking. If we get in the business of killing microscopic living things, we had better know what we’re doing. I do know what antibacterial soap does, and I’m not happy about it.

The Facts: Triclosan and Bleach Don’t Just Kill Bacteria

In case you haven’t been around since my very first post (yes, I talked about soap in my first post), you might not recognize the term triclosan. It’s the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps on the market.

How It Works: Triclosan kills bacteria NOT by brute force (think nuclear bomb) but by working within the bacteria to coax them not to reproduce (think of a disease). It has two major issues:

  1. It kills both good and bad bacteria, a problem for our healthy flora.
  2. It contributes to “bacterial resistance” because bacteria who are naturally resistant to the chemical (just like some people don’t get certain diseases even though they’re exposed to them) survive, then reproduce, creating a bacterial population that looks like the dreaded “super bugs” on which antibiotics and antibacterial soaps won’t have any effect. NOTE:  This is an edit to the original post, in which I claimed that bacteria can learn to fight against us. Bacteria can’t learn and can’t change their genes. Here is a guest post explaining more about how superbugs happen from my biologist reader at Finding Joy in my Kitchen who pointed out my error. Thank you, SnoWhite!

For regular daily handwashing, it’s just overkill. Soap and water, as I discovered yesterday, works just great. Our Creator provided us with ways to be clean and healthy before laboratories were ever invented. Want more science behind triclosan and some other issues its been linked to? Read this post: The Harmful Effects of Triclosan.

What About Bleach? Bleach is more of a nuclear bomb killer, destroying all image life in its path. It’s not as likely to participate in causing bacterial resistance, so it’s a better choice than triclosan when you need to kill bacteria. However, it’s becoming pretty widely accepted that exposure to run-of-the-mill germs is good for us.

Bleach, however, also affects the human nervous system. When you’re pregnant, I bet you get your husband to clean the toilet, right? We just know those fumes aren’t good for us. My friend who sells Shaklee products shared an incredible story of a boy working on schoolwork in his bedroom while his mom did laundry with bleach directly below him. As the fumes came through the ventilation system, he lost his focus and his handwriting visibly worsened.

Did you know the indoor air quality in many homes is worse than the outdoor air quality because of the cleaners we use? It’s just not something I’m willing to mess around with on a regular basis. I keep one bottle around for very, very select times, like these two gems.

Read more about Why Bleach is Bad for You.

The Bottom Line: Triclosan and bleach don’t just kill bacteria, they might hurt you and your family, too.

Take Action: Get the Antibacterials Out

72% of the soap purchased for household use is antibacterial. Gaaaaah! Let’s get that number down closer to zero, which is how many households need antibacterial soap.

Baby StepIncrease your consciousness about where triclosan and bleach are hiding.

Take a walk around your house, or just read a bottle or two as you brush your teeth or do dishes. Look for “triclosan” on your household products (aka triclocarbon in bar soaps and microban in products). You’ll find it in almost every soap or commercial cleaner that claims to be “anti-bacterial”, unless you already have some natural soaps in your house. You’ll also find it in some sneaky places, like toothpaste, antiperspirant, mouthwash, some waterless hand sanitizers (more on those later), shoe inserts, dishtowels and washcloths, sponges, shower curtains, and cutting boards.

You can bet a cleaner has chlorine bleach in it if it warns you not to mix with ammonia. Plus, you can probably smell it.

Understanding how pervasive these chemicals are is the first step to eradicating them from your house.

Making Strides: Commit to finding product alternatives without triclosan and avoid buying any more products with the chemical.image

I have a pretty extensive list of possible triclosan hiding spots and easy alternatives here. For handsoap, you can simply buy regular soap, often labeled “moisturizing” or some such name so they don’t look less important than the bottles touting the “antibacterial” label. *raspberries!*  Be more frugal by using a foaming pump and even more green by just using a few Tablespoons of castille soap in your pump (directions to fill the pumps here).

Once you know where the antibacs are, you can start to replace them one by one with safer alternatives.

Leap of FaithGet rid of all bleach and triclosan by using natural cleaners or making your own.

image I use three simple products to clean just about everything in my house, except for my dishwasher detergent. Believe me, I tried homemade versions – want to see my failures? I’m a big fan of Biokleen Dishwasher Detergent now!

You can make your own homemade cleaners easily and even cheaper than buying the toxic ones. Here’s an easy chart of all green cleaning alternatives featured at KS.

Take it one step at a time, and decide for yourself whether it’s wise to just use up what you have first and slowly switch over to natural products or jump in with both feet and Freecycle your conventional cleaners.

Next Week:  Get the Gluten Out

image Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free is hosting next week’s topic. I’m very intrigued and looking forward to learning more about gluten and how our body processes it, so interested in fact that I’m going gluten free for Holy Week. (Eek!)  I’ve never done anything like this before, but I think it’s the best way for me to (a) remember what grains are GF and which ones aren’t, and (b) walk a mile in the shoes of someone newly diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

You can see all the hostesses and future topics here – plug them into your calendar!

Bonus: A Giveaway!

Cleanwell has offered to share their triclosan-free (yet still antibacterial, for those of you who can’t release their fear of germs – I understand!) cleaning solutions with one lucky participant. The winner will receive their choice of a starter pack with a hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and handsoap OR their new foaming hand sanitizer. I’m pretty excited to try that one, because their original is too difficult for little hands to squirt, and I want my son to have an easy way to wash his hands (sometimes) after going potty. Better mostly clean than not at all when you’re a preschool-aged boy in a rush!

How to enter:

  1. Link a related blog post to the carnival.
  2. Comment with your thoughts on getting the anti-bacs out – will you accept one of the levels of action?
  3. Get an extra entry if you’re a subscriber to KS, either via email subscription or reader feed. Be sure to leave an extra comment!

Contest will end Friday, March 26th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winner will be chosen using random.org and announced Monday here at KS. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

SAVE: Use the code CWAA5 to save 15% on CleanWell products, including CleanWell’s Natural Hand Sanitizer, until 12/31/2012.

Your Turn: Link Up About Antibacs Here!

What can I link up?

  • tips for good handwashing (or washing other things)
  • recipes for homemade cleaners (bleach and ammonia free)
  • product reviews of cleaners without harsh chemicals
  • your story of transitioning to greener cleaners
  • questions you have about soaps or antibacterial products
  • research or information you’ve found about triclosan or bleach
  • ideas for helping others make a transition
  • anything else related to getting rid of the antibacterial products in your home – be creative! Old posts are welcome, but it would be great if you mentioned the carnival in a new post so your readers can find us, too.

Etiquette for linking:

  1. This linky allows you to link to your homepage AND the permalink for your carnival post. Be sure to leave a permalink, along with a little description.
  2. Please link back to this post. You can copy this line into a blog editor if you’d like:
    I’m participating in Kitchen Stewardship’s Spring Cleaning Carnival, Get the Antibacterials Out.
  3. If you refresh the page to see new entries, click “cancel” when a box asks you to resend information, or else your entry will come through twice.


Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship My carnival post You can write a brief (250 chars) synopsis here to tempt readers to visit your post!

Kelly the Kitchen Kop OUR ENVIRONMENT IS TOO CLEAN! Is our world too sterile? Do we let our kids play in the dirt enough?

Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free Sanitizing in Commercial Kitchens Why you want your favorite restaurant to use sanitizers - a look at why it's so important.

Shauna @ His frugal servant Anti-antibacterial other environmentally friendly and homemade cleaning products we use

Mandi @ Organizing Your Way Easy, Natural Bathroom Cleaners and Tips More natural cleaners that you can make at home for your bathroom!

Katie @ Simple Organic Good Bacteria, Bad Bacteria How to wash your hands and be gentle on the earth.

LuAnn @ Back Porchervations Spring Cleaning Carnival - Week 1 - Tuesday Breaking it down into small enough baby steps for the easily overwhelmed - like me.

Emily @ Live Renewed Change Your Mind About Antibacterial My thoughts on Antibacterials - how and why to avoid them in your home.

Heavenly Homemakers Unclogging Drains without Bleach or Drano! Create a volcano in your drain using vinegar and baking soda...unclog your drain SAFELY!!

Kat @ Kat's Food Blog How to Clean (SCD Legally) How I clean my house and myself with only SCD legal food based products.

Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Baby Steps Around the House Top 3 Steps to cleaning your home in a safer way

Anna @ Frugal For You Getting Anti-Bacterial Products Out Reflections of a newly informed anti-bacteria lover.

Lisa @ Condo Blues A Bleach Free Way to Kill Bathroom Mold and Mildew How to stop mold and mildew from growing in moist bathroom air without resorting to nasty chemical removers.

[email protected] What is Soap? The truth about soap.

Yancy @ A Green Spell Green Spring Cleaning Homemade cleaning products

Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Baby Steps Around the House Top 3 Steps to cleaning your home in a safer way

Beth Terry @ Fake Plastic Fish Spring Clean Carnival: Get the Antibacterials Out... Of Your Plastic! Many of us have seen hand soaps and household cleaners that contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan. But did you know many plastic food containers do too?

Lenetta @ Nettacow How to Wash a Toddler\'s Hands Keeping the little ones all clean and shiny!

Doc Mock@ Green Living for Better Health Antibacterial Soap Do you really need to use antibacterial soap? Does it protect your family more than conventional soap, or is it harming them?

Micaela @ Mindful Momma For The Love of Vinegar...Top 15 Ways to Use it in the Home Ditch the antibacterials and start cleaning with good old vinegar!!

Claire @ Saving Money Plan Spring Cleaning: Do You Use Vinegar? Do you use vinegar as a cleaning agent?

Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up Can Washing Your Hands Lead to Infertility? The effects of triclosan on fertility

Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green Disinfect Without Pesticides Great options help you to disinfect you home naturally.

Amber@He who watches over us does not slumber I’m participating in Kitchen Stewardship’s Spring Cleaning Carnival, Get the Antibacterials Out. Also a GiveAway I am having a giveaway while washing down my pantry shelves with soap and water. Come on over and find out it is triclosan free.

Disclosure:  Cleanwell provided a giveaway prize free of charge, but I didn’t receive any product. The Amazon link is an affiliate link.

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

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