Pregnancy is often a time when mothers-to-be will pay extra attention to their health and well-being, including being mindful of the products they use in their homes. Many conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that can pose risks to pregnant women and their babies. Here, you can gain a comprehensive overview of harmful chemicals commonly found in household cleaners, pregnancy safe cleaning product brands to use, and also some DIY cleaning products to consider incorporating into your home.
3 Common Hazards Found In Conventional Cleaning Products
Some examples of harmful chemicals that could be found in household cleaners include phthalates, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and parabens. When you purchase cleaning products, be sure to check the label and avoid:
- Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
- Dimethyl phthalate (DMP)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
- Ingredients that contain “fluoro”
- Ingredients that end in “paraben”
Phthalates are a group of chemicals often used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates are also used in liquids as solvents, fixatives, or fragrance components.
Household cleaning products that could contain phthalates include air fresheners, laundry detergents, dish soaps, and more.
These harmful chemicals are directly linked to an increase in preterm birth rates. According to a 2022 study where more than 6,000 pregnant women were observed, those who had higher concentrations of phthalate metabolites in their urine were more likely to deliver preterm.
2. PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)
Often found in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and some types of food packaging, PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. These substances are known for their ability to resist heat, water, and oil.
Household cleaning products that could contain PFAS include stain removers, floor waxes, and certain types of upholstery cleaners.
The increasingly widespread use of PFAS has raised health concerns, particularly for pregnant women. One study conducted in 2018 suggests that there are possible associations between exposure to PFAS and stunted fetal and postnatal growth, and weaker immune function. Consider testing for exposure to these “forever chemicals” with an At-Home PFAS Blood Test from EmpowerDX.
Parabens are chemicals that can act as preservatives in a variety of products. Most often, parabens are found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, but they can also be found in household cleaners as they can be used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
Household cleaning products that could contain parabens include fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids, multi-purpose cleaners, and more.
There is some research indicating that exposure to certain parabens during pregnancy might be associated with abnormal birth weight and size. According to a 2021 study, there is a significant association between exposure to parabens (methyl and propyl paraben) and an increase in birth weight and gestational age.
Pregnancy Safe Cleaning Product Brands
If pregnancy safe cleaning products are on your mind, consider the following brands:
Mrs. Meyers’s products are made without the use of chemicals and solvents like ammonia, chlorine, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colorants, phosphates, or petroleum distillates.
Household cleaning products made by the brand Grove Collaborative (Grove Co.) are free of many hazards, such as ammonia, BHA/BHT, chlorine, ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA), parabens, phosphates, phthalates, and more.
DIY Pregnancy Safe Cleaning Products
Creating DIY, natural, and pregnancy-safe cleaning products is a great way to ensure a healthy environment at home, especially during pregnancy. Here are some simple and effective recipes for making your own cleaning products:
Phthalate-Free Laundry Detergent
- Ingredients: Washing soda, borax, and grated bar soap.
- Method: Mix 1 cup each of washing soda and borax with grated soap. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.
Phthalate-Free Dish Soap
- Ingredients: Borax, washing soda, citric acid, and salt.
- Method: Combine equal parts of each ingredient. Use the same way you would use regular dish soap.
PFAS-Free Stain Remover
- Ingredients: Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid castile soap.
- Method: Combine 2 parts baking soda, 1 part liquid castile soap, and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. The quantities can be adjusted depending on the size of the stain you are treating.
Paraben-Free Fabric Softener
- Ingredients: White vinegar and essential oils.
- Method: Combine 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water in a large container. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil for fragrance if desired.
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