Non-toxic cleaners are the far better, safer choice in household cleaning. That said, there is still some danger in any cleaning product. Your child could have an allergy to an ingredient, it might contain an eye irritant or could cause stomach upsets. This is much less of a concern than carcinogens and mutagens in cleaning supplies, but that doesn’t mean we can store our solutions under the sink in an unlocked cupboard and assume that our child is safe.
This topic came up last night with a girlfriend of mine, she is one of the most environmental people I know. She shot me an email saying, “As a Mom who has changed to eco-friendly products, be it Seventh Generation, or Vermont Soap Organic All Purpose Cleaner, or even a vinegar, baking soda and water mix- what if my child were to get into it, swallow it/drink it? How non-toxic is it really, as far as having to call 911, etc…? I mean, you still have to call a doctor, right? Even though it is “non-toxic” you should still follow some sort of instruction in case of eye contact/swallowing?”
So I did a little research. The short answer is that you should ALWAYS have the number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) posted clearly in your house. We keep it on the refrigerator and by the telephone. Second, remember that cleaning products are still cleaning products and a cup full of surfactants (even natural ones) may not feel so good in the belly. Seventh Generation is awesome and discloses all ingredients on the company’s website. They also include MSDS sheets on all products that need one. I brought up the MSDS on Seventh Generation’s Chlorine Free Bleach. When you compare this to Chlorine Bleach, it seems mild indeed. However, it can cause eye irritation and shouldn’t be ingested.
If you are using a baking soda, vinegar and water mix (as I am quite fond of), there isn’t a whole lot to worry about unless your child consumes undissolved baking soda or a large quantity of the liquid. At most they should get a tummy ache, but this is one of those times a call to the Pediatrician should be routine. If you add essential oils, you might get the joy of adding diarrhea to the mix. Hydrogen Peroxide is not intended for consumption, so if your child drinks it there could be a risk. Topical solutions we purchase at the drug store for cuts shouldn’t pose too much risk, however once we get into food grade (35%) there are serious risk if the Hydrogen Peroxide isn’t properly diluted and stored.
My Ecover Dishwasher Tabs simply state on the box “Keep all cleaning products out of children’s reach.” There is no disclaimer about eye or skin irritation or danger of ingestion. I was unable to locate any further information on the website, but it does list the ingredients. If I am ever in doubt, I know that a call to the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) with the ingredient list will educate me of any possible danger.
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