How To Do A Product Purge

This post is sponsored by Green Works. You don’t have to compromise to be clean when you use hard working, plant-based cleaners powered by The Clorox Company.

Dear Readers, I’ve been trying to clean up all the toxic products in my household.  It’s a huge job, actually, to make the transition.  For so long I kind of resisted it.  I didn’t want to spend the extra money to buy something new and more expensive when I had products to still use up.  And, I also was skeptical that a small amount of toxins could really do that much damage to my body.  BUT…I’ve had enough experiences in the last couple of years that motivated me to make the switch.  Actually, cutting out dairy sent me over the edge.  I realized what a huge effect even the smallest amount of dairy was having on my skin and my health.  I started to think twice about all the chemicals I was in touch with on a constant basis each day.  (Not to mention the chemicals I personally was sending into the earth’s water supply.)  I’ve also had 3 loved ones nearly my age who have been diagnosed with cancer this year.  I’m now to the point where if studies say a toxin is causing cancer, I really don’t want anything to do with it. 

SO – for anyone else who is interested in making the switch and doing a product purge with your cleaning supplies, here are a few tips I put together for you…

1.  GET UNDER THE SINK and in your cupboards and pull out ALL the products!  You can’t imagine how good this feels to really get back there and do a clean out!!  Also, it commits you to step #2 which is the hardest…

2.  READ LABELS.  This part is awful to me as these terms are so foreign and hard to remember.  (I actually keep a list of these toxins in my phone contacts so I can easily find them.)  But, despite these awful names, you can do this!  Carry forward!  Dig around on those labels and find these things.  As soon as you find one, you’re done with it…(and to tell you the truth, these will likely show up in just about every one of your cleaners.  Somehow it’s quite satisfying to hunt these down.)

  • Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Chlorine, a lung and skin irritant, lethal if ingested, releases mercury.
  • Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners, depresses the nervous system.
  • Phenols found in disinfectants are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate, a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe and biodegrades into even more toxic compounds.
  • Alkylphenol Ethoxylates, helps cleaners penetrate grime, hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams.
  • Formaldehyde found in spray and wick deodorizers, is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.
  • Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners damages mucous membranes.
  • Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
  • Butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver. 
  • Ammonia, cuts grease. Derived from petroleum and known to cause asthma.
  • Monoethanolamine, helps cleaners penetrate grime, derived from petroleum, irritates respiratory system.
  • Glycol Ethers, dissolves soil, causes nerve damage and infertility, air contaminant.
  • Phthalates, synthetic fragrances, hormone disruptors, damages fish in US streams.
  • Triclosan, disinfectant in antibacterial cleaners, forms possible carcinogen, builds up in soil and fish. 

3.  GIVE AWAY OR DONATE OLD PRODUCTS.  Instead of throwing out these toxic household products, bag them up and give the products away or donate them to a facility that still uses these products.  I know that sounds awful to do, but I figure if people are still going to be buying toxic products anyway, you might as well save some plastic and allow them to save some money.  Though I would let them know why you are getting rid of the toxic products and see if they’re still interested.  Maybe you could convince them to make the switch, too.  🙂  You could also check with your local Department of Public Works to find out how to safely dispose of these hazardous products in your area.

4.  DUST & WIPE out your cupboards for a nice, fresh start. 

5.  REPLACE your new products with either very inexpensive homemade products (I’m venturing into this, you guys!) or with store-bought products that get rated well with the EWG website (I don’t buy anything without checking the rating on this website first!)

This process really does feel GOOD.  And…it sends a clear message to big companies to start making safe products.  We, as consumers, really do have a lot of power to inspire change!

Since writing this post, I’ve been able to try out some of the Green Works products.  Due to all our travel lately, our little home was getting taken over by laundry and I’ve been doing load after load!  I was happy to use the Green Works Chlorine Free Bleach and the Oxi Stain Remover, which are less toxic than the standard products I had been using.  Also, you can learn more about Green Works on this little video.

Have a great day!


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  1. Kelly February 13, 2013 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Also you can look into other "green" certifications, such as Green Shield or EcoLogo. Any product that receives these "stamps of approval" had to go through serious testing to prove that they are some of the best products on the market that are the least harmful to your body. When buying green, I try to avoid how the manufacturer markets the product (i.e. I don't even know if Green Works is certified by a third party organization like Ecologo, which raises a red flag for me). Great post though!

    • mara February 14, 2013 at 5:03 am - Reply

      Wow – thank you so much for those other certification recommendations. I definitely want to check those out…

  2. Lauren February 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I love that more people are becoming aware of what is in their cleaning products! I make 95% of my own cleaning supplies now and LOVE knowing what I am touching and breathing in. Here's what I use:

    • mara February 14, 2013 at 5:05 am - Reply

      LOOOVED your post. K, you've really convinced me to go w/ the DIY cleaning products. I need to get some jugs and make this happen.

  3. Tiffany Bolton February 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Great article on the purge! I shared the link for this on our company's environmental sustainability Linked In page.

  4. Laura @ Chaotic Domestic February 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I've thought about doing something like this, so it's helpful to have a list in one place of things to look for in cleaners.

  5. Tresann February 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    You mentioned a few posts back about liking the Honest Company. Well at zulily they are being hosted for sometime! Thought you might like to know so if you wanted to buy the product it might be cheaper. Not sure, never actually looked at the prices! =)

    • mara February 14, 2013 at 5:12 am - Reply

      ah – I love the Honest Company Thank you so much for this!

  6. Danielle February 14, 2013 at 2:01 am - Reply

    This is awesome! I make my own laundry detergent, mouthwash, house cleaners and Want to still try homemade toothpaste and shampoo. At least you know it's safe and what you are using is safe. :-).

  7. Anonymous February 14, 2013 at 2:55 am - Reply

    What do you use for lotion?? I am wanting some chemical free lotion that's good.

    • mara February 14, 2013 at 5:13 am - Reply

      Coconut Oil! Get the unrefined, organic kind. The unrefined oil will have the greatest health properties.

  8. Anonymous February 14, 2013 at 4:14 am - Reply

    Okay, you convinced me to give it a try! That list is so helpful!

    Also, I keep thinking about what you've said about dairy and your skin and I think I really need to give it a shot (my skin in the past few months has been breaking out like CRAZY) – I keep thinking, "I'll do anything to make my skin better," but the thought of giving up dairy is almost painful! Oh how I will miss my milk and cheese… I will just keep looking to you as an example to get me through it!


    • mara February 14, 2013 at 5:15 am - Reply

      Use coconut milk, coconut cream, and almond milk as your substitutes. You can buy that canned coconut milk – refrigerate it til the cream separates – then use that in any recipe that calls for cream. It's amazing and you won't miss the milk. Also – try coconut milk icecream! It's so, so good!

    • Anonymous February 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm - Reply

      Have you found that goat milk products also irritated your skin? Or was it just cow dairy?

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