Today we are talking about cleaning products during pregnancy, breastfeeding or with young kids. What’s safe?
Today’s guest is Dr Samantha Radford from Evidence-Based Mommy. She is a former chemist with focus in public health. She has a whole course on safe chemical useage for families. I love it, because I’m just not sure we’re thinking through our cleaning products enough!
Big thanks for today’s sponsor The Organized Home. Make cleaning easier by having an organized home!
Grab my weekly cleaning schedule:
Mentioned in the episode:
Cleaning vs Disinfecting, and how often you should disinfect
Is there “chemical-free” cleaning?
What is a “natural” cleaning product?
My post on cleaning with vinegar
Is it safe to use bleach when pregnant? How can you safely use it?
Things pregnant women shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy
Other things that might interest you:
My Post on my top essential oils
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other household tips podcasts:
Check out all my podcasts:
[00:00:00.390] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on Episode 63, we are talking about something I ignored for 18 years of my parenting journey? Maybe not that long.
[00:00:11.280] – Hilary Erickson
I just cleaned with what my mom had. And I think a lot of us do that or we just grab whatever is at the grocery store and we’re not always thinking about what’s coming into our house. Guilty! Anyone else guilty? Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:33.460] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast! I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:58.060] – Hilary Erickson
OK, guys, before we get started, be sure and grab my weekly cleaning printable that’s included in the show notes of this episode, it is going to get you on a cleaning schedule and I think you’ll love it. OK, today’s guest is my friend Samantha Radford, and she is the blogger. Actually, she’s Dr Samantha Radford. Luckily, she’s not a medical doctor. I just can’t take those when I’m off of work.
[00:01:20.060] – Hilary Erickson
But she is the mom behind Evidence Based Mom, and she is a former chemist with a focus in public health. So she got her Ph.D. from Emery. And, she was an exposer scientist who focused on maternal child health, which I think is just fascinating. Pretty cool. Samantha has years of research in learning about how chemical exposures affect both unborn babies and children, as well as toxicants and medications, how they are passed through breast milk. So when I met Samantha, I was like, I definitely need to have you on the podcast.
[00:01:48.350] – Hilary Erickson
It’s just not something I thought of for such a long time. Although, I remember one time my pregnant friend was cleaning her oven with oven cleaner and I thought, that’s probably not my best plan. But then I thought, you know, I do stupid things, too. And this isn’t a guilt trip. This is just a, let’s inform ourselves a little bit more about what we should be bringing into our house. So I want to welcome my friend Samantha Radford.
[00:02:10.640] – Hilary Erickson
This episode of The Pulling Curls Podcast is sponsored by The Organized Home, the realistic way to manage a home, reduce clutter and clean less. Ever wish you could relax with Netflix rather than worrying about the state of your home or that last paper you need? No more needing hours to prep for company, be prepared for any doorbell. Let’s simplify organizing so you can enjoy life more. Save 15 percent with the coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find it at Pulling Curls Podcast and the menu under Courses or in this episode’s show notes.
[00:02:40.330] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Samantha, welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:02:43.270] – Samantha Radford
Hey, Hilary, how are you?
[00:02:44.860] – Hilary Erickson
Oh, man, I’m a little sweaty. We just finished a Just Dance here.
[00:02:48.540] – Samantha Radford
Oh, ok… Yeah.
[00:02:50.220] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. So Samantha has all these credentials, and I’m excited to talk to her because… Sometimes I use cleaning products that maybe don’t even clean because I’m so wanting to be natural. So I’m excited to talk to her, because I’ve been testing a toe out of the water, especially with covid on some more, like, serious cleaning products. And I want to get her take on it. So let’s talk about, first, cleaning versus disinfecting.
[00:03:15.210] – Samantha Radford
Ok, right. So like you said, cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning is probably what we were more interested in pre-covid. You’re just trying to get rid of dust and dirt and grime or whatever. That’s cleaning. Disinfecting is trying to actually kill germs, bacteria or viruses. So, the nice, natural things that we usually like to use, especially, you know, is moms that we’re concerned about our health and we’re concerned about our kids’ health and all of that. We’re trying to stay all natural. Those things generally do not work for disinfecting. And at this point, it’s going to be better for you to be exposed to a little bit of bleach than it is to catch covid. So that’s kind of where we are right now.
[00:03:57.280] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. Now, but you don’t have to disinfect every time. So…
[00:04:01.000] – Samantha Radford
No. Gosh, no. So I mean, it depends on how much you’re out and about. Or how much you have people in, too. But if you’re wiping down just like so the light switches and the handrails and countertops and stuff. Once a week or something like that, that could be reasonable.
[00:04:18.340] – Hilary Erickson
And a lot of it depends like… If we bring home groceries and we try and sanitize that real quick, or if I come home from work and laid my work bag, which, now lives in the garage. But back in the day, I would bring my work bag and stick it on the table. That would need to be sanitized, that area.
[00:04:31.980] – Samantha Radford
So your whole… With you being in the medical field, that’s a whole other thing, I’m sure.
[00:04:37.190] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. My kids love the naked run from the laundry room to my room. It’s a special covid dance I do now. So, is there really chemical free cleaning?
[00:04:47.050] – Samantha Radford
No. So everything’s made out of chemicals, right? Like water is a chemical. You know the stuff that some plants, whether or not they’re organic, those are chemicals like, we are made of chemicals. That’s what makes up the entire universe. So, it bugs me when I see people advertising chemical free products or asking about where they can find a chemical free cleaner cause that’s just not a thing of, oh, now we’re bringing back my chemistry in college and I’m starting to get a little nauseated.
[00:05:15.580] – Hilary Erickson
But yes, everything’s carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. Those are your big ones.
[00:05:20.100] – Samantha Radford
Those are the big ones, yes.
[00:05:21.340] – Hilary Erickson
But let’s talk more natural. What would you say the difference between, like, what’s a natural cleaning product?
[00:05:28.070] – Samantha Radford
So generally, I mean, natural stuff is something that comes from the environment. So, and natural wasn’t always the same thing as safe. Right? For example, people are really big into using essential oils, which I have no problems with essential oils, don’t jump on me for that. But, if you use the wrong ones in the wrong context, they can cause real problems. So, just because those are natural doesn’t mean that they’re safe for everything. For that matter, just because something is synthetic or manmade doesn’t automatically make it dangerous. But generally speaking, something that’s more natural tends to be safer. So there’s things like vinegar, baking soda, that kind of stuff.
[00:06:10.210] – Hilary Erickson
But you add vinegar and baking soda. That’s not a friend, you don’t want to get that on.
[00:06:13.910] – Samantha Radford
It’s fine. That just makes fizzy, that’s just carbon dioxide bubbles that come off and then you basically have salt water at the end that’s useless. So a lot of times I see people talking about mixing baking soda and vinegar to make it cleaner. But why? You just made salt water.
[00:06:28.930] – Hilary Erickson
So I put it down my drain. Does it do your drain?
[00:06:31.330] – Samantha Radford
It might. So when you put it down there, when they’re mixed, and those bubbles are being created, that’s just carbon dioxide. That’s the stuff that we breathe out. And like those little bubbles might knock some gunk loose. That’s kind of the extent of what it really does down the drain.
[00:06:49.090] – Hilary Erickson
Well, son of a gun now I’m useless. All right. So what are some of your favorite things to clean with at your house?
[00:06:56.900] – Samantha Radford
I mean, honestly, my all-purpose cleaner, again, we’re talking, cleaning, not disinfecting, but my my general go-to cleaner, is just… I’ll take like a spray bottle and I’ll mix it. Half water, half vinegar. And I might put a drop or two of dawn detergent into that. And I use that for wiping down the counters, for wiping the inside the microwave or doing mirrors and glass. So that’s kind of my favorite thing.
[00:07:24.790] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, we use that same thing too, a lot of times I put in a little bit of essential oils to maybe counteract all the vinegarness.
[00:07:30.400] – Samantha Radford
Yeah, I don’t know if it counteracts. But it’s a nice smell at least. yeah.
[00:07:34.930] – Hilary Erickson
Well, and I am of the essential oil camp somewhat so I do add the like. En garde or whatever brand you’re using, the anti microbial type oil. Yeah.
[00:07:44.360] – Samantha Radford
Yeah, my only thing about like, the other thing with essential oils, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, there’s certain ones that could be hazardous. For example, Clareysage people say you’re great for women’s health. It could actually cause premature labor. So you definitely want to stay away from it. For example, when you’re pregnant. Peppermint, I believe or sage can mess with your milk supply. So those are things you’d want to be avoiding when you are breastfeeding. And then there are other ones. We’re concerned that they might have estrogenic effects, so basically mimic estrogen in the body.
[00:08:20.100] – Samantha Radford
So lavender, lavender, everyone talks about as being just a really like All-Purpose Safer Oil. And it might be, but it might be that if you expose younger children to lavender too much, that it can have these kind of mimicking chemicals that can affect like reproductive systems and puberty and all that, which is something we don’t want to do.
[00:08:42.990] – Hilary Erickson
I did not know that, although I hate the smell of lavender. So…
[00:08:46.170] – Samantha Radford
Yeah, it’s a weird smell.
[00:08:47.520] – Hilary Erickson
It’s not my favorite. I don’t like lavender soap and stuff. But, yeah. Interesting. Yes. I do know that a lot of the major essential oil companies do have like, is it OK to be around breastfeeding or all that types of stuff. So if you’re using a brand, you might want to check that out, peeps. OK, so what do you use for just what I just realized? That wasn’t your question. I went off. No, I don’t mind.
[00:09:10.590] – Hilary Erickson
I thought it was good. OK, what do you use for disinfecting, do use bleach?
[00:09:14.160] – Samantha Radford
I do. So if I were pregnant, I would try to make sure that somebody else was doing it for me. But yeah, I use bleach now. Again, ideally it would be great if we didn’t have to use it because chronic exposure. So if you were around bleach all the time, maybe you did cleaning like your a` janitor or something like that, it could eventually cause problems like respiratory effects. It’s been linked to asthma and that kind of thing. But if you’re just using it every once in a while to wipe stuff down, it’ll be fine. You do have to take precautions when you use bleach.
[00:09:50.190] – Hilary Erickson
That’s very important. So no one rule with leeches don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever mix it with anything but water because it can put off a lot of really nasty gases, including chlorine gas, lots of things that can either put you in the hospital or even potentially kill you. But as long as you only mix it with water, it should be fine. The other thing to keep in mind with bleach is if you do choose to delete it, like we were talking about keeping a spray bottle of vinegar and water, you can’t really do that with bleach because once you diluted, that changes and that makes it expire faster.
[00:10:30.030] – Samantha Radford
Same kind of thing, you’ll just end up with salt water basically. So it’s going to lose its effectiveness if you try to store it when it’s diluted. And there is.
[00:10:39.930] – Hilary Erickson
What do they do for all those like Clorox sprays at the grocery store? Are those, like, specially diluted or do they just I don’t know, it might have a buffer in there or something to, I don’t know, often interesting. Yes, there’s something else about safety.
[00:10:54.570] – Samantha Radford
So make sure make sure that you keep things well ventilated, too. So if you can if you’re in a bathroom, for example, turn on the fan and there you might want to open some windows or something. Just try to avoid to avoid breathing it. Yeah. Because you definitely are going to wear your mask right now. I’m going. I guess you could I wouldn’t know personally.
[00:11:17.850] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so you mentioned pregnant women shouldn’t be using a lot of bleach, any other tasks, other things pregnant women shouldn’t be doing. I mean, I’m all for let’s make a whole list of things pregnant women shouldn’t have to do around the house. Right. Let’s do. Yeah. I mean, the more stuff you can avoid just out of this year, like you can’t breathe and you’re exhausted thing, that’s great. But yeah, I mean, just try try to kind of stick towards the vinegar and baking soda kind of cleaning or you’re pregnant if possible.
[00:11:47.400] – Samantha Radford
If there’s someone around like a family member or your spouse or an older kid who can do cleaning for you or disinfecting for you, that would be super. Yeah. And I have to say the vinegar and a drop of dish soap and water. Really, it doesn’t. Yeah, it does. Because I was definitely like, oh, I love my four and my mom always four or nine when we were growing up. And then I was like, oh, I’d like to save some money and I get my vinegar at Costco.
[00:12:11.700] – Hilary Erickson
So it’s super duper cheap and it really does a good job. So if you guys are out there saying all that probably won’t work. Yeah, it does. You know what else work that I filmed like a month or two ago. So I’ve always wondered when you have greasy stuff on a cast iron skillet, I’ve wondered how to handle that because you’re not really specific dish detergent, onyx. You don’t want to mess with your with the seasoning. That’s what it’s called.
[00:12:34.410] – Samantha Radford
But if you use some coarse salt, like if you have like a box of salt and pour that. In there and scrub with that actually gets stuff off of your arm. Yeah, we actually do that. My husband’s a big cast iron cooker, so he loves to do that. We also have a piece of chain mail we use to scrub ours with that. It’s amazing what just some elbow grease will do, which you don’t have a lot of elbow grease when you’re pregnant, if you will, to grow a human.
[00:13:01.180] – Hilary Erickson
[00:13:01.510] – Hilary Erickson
What about with the baby? Is there any special you mentioned essential oils. Watch around little ones, right? Yeah, I would avoid essential oils pretty much at all when they’re little for at least six months, maybe a year, but same sort of same kind of clayne that we were talking about. When you’re pregnant, I stick with the vinegar baking soda, dawn dish soap type thing. Yeah. Should be fine. And honestly, I would try and clean when they’re not attached to which would be difficult.
[00:13:30.340] – Samantha Radford
But whoever is not, maybe that’s a way to get Dad to hold the baby then clean what. What a joy that is while you hold the baby. Yeah. I could also. Yeah. Whichever break you want. Right from the baby. Yeah. So I do see everyone’s while people like with the baby like with their for 09 and I’m like oh it’s probably not your best move but you’ll probably make worse ones too. So yeah. Any other tips for moms and cleaning products.
[00:13:55.720] – Hilary Erickson
I mean I think that pretty much covers everything if you’re concerned. Going back to the disinfecting, if you’re concerned about that, say for some reason you can’t find bleach or something. The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, has a page specifically dedicated to a bunch of different products that are registered to kill covid-19 virus. So you can reference that. And if you’re worried about, well, which one of those are safe for us in the Environmental Working Group has a list of disinfectants that they consider safe.
[00:14:31.690] – Samantha Radford
So I cross-linked. I looked at both of those things and saw what’s in both categories. And it looks like seventh generation cleaners actually are going to be seventh generation disinfectants, that those are actually a good choice if you can find those. So that’s the ideal. But generally speaking, you can’t find that right now because everything’s crazy. So don’t feel guilty. If you use bleach like you’re not killing your family, it’ll be fine.
[00:14:58.660] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. So I think the kids will probably be wear gloves. Right. That might protect your skin more than anything else. And ventilation put on open a window if you don’t live in Phoenix right now or put on a fan or just make sure that the the rooms will open. Yes. And never, ever, ever mix bleach with anything ever, ever, ever. Very purposely saying that many. Never, ever. What about what about disinfectant wipes?
[00:15:25.240] – Hilary Erickson
Do they half of me feels like they probably don’t even work the other.
[00:15:29.650] – Samantha Radford
That’s the other other thing. Thank you. So with bleach, for example. Oh, peroxides. OK, you could use hydrogen peroxide if you don’t have bleach to disinfect you mean. Right. Disinfect specifically.
[00:15:41.230] – Samantha Radford
Yes. So with both of those you really ought to let them sit on the surface for like ten minutes before you wipe it off. So yeah, I’m not real sure how effective the wipes are because if you’re supposed to let something sit for ten minutes, I don’t that’s not really what works. Do well. I mean, it’s damp, but. Right. Yeah. My kids have learned a lot about dwell time for me lately because they’d like to just spray the disinfectant on and then wipe it right off.
[00:16:05.920] – Samantha Radford
And I’m like, no, you spray it on, then you wash your hands and then you come back after you’ve sprayed everything and wash your hands. Right. But yeah. So dwell time in case you guys don’t know, it takes a certain amount of time for whatever the disinfectant is, bleach, alcohol, whatever, to penetrate the the outside of the virus and kill it. So that’s what dwell time is. It’s that amount of time that the soldiers in your disinfected take to work.
[00:16:30.010] – Samantha Radford
So yes. Yeah. And most disinfectants should have a dwell time. When people say that there is no dwell time, I kind of look askance at them. Once again, that’s another thing on that page is the EPA has it tells you how long it takes in. Most things are like eight to ten minutes. So, OK, we probably haven’t waited. Well, I think it would all evaporate at our house at this point in Phoenix. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:16:52.720] – Hilary Erickson
It’s actually a good point.
[00:16:53.710] – Samantha Radford
Yeah. So you can just spray it on and if you can leave it, set a timer for ten minutes and then come back and get any little cuddles. I think that probably be your best bet if it’s warm in your house. So.
[00:17:03.520] – Hilary Erickson
All right. Thanks so much for coming on, Samantha. You guys, I’m I’m going to leave her course in the profile if you are interested in keeping your house as safe as possible, which I think is such a good idea. I spent probably eighteen years of my motherhood life pretty much ignoring what chemicals we brought into our house because I was overwhelmed. But it probably was my best choice. So I think our course is awesome. I will link it.
[00:17:24.490] – Samantha Radford
Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I tried to make it to where you could find everything in one place with information from someone who has the expertise to actually talk about that instead of just being stared, like you said, trying to hide from it. Yeah. I have to say when you. You can cross-reference the two lists, I have my eyes fogged over and I was like, well, somebody must have done that and a team of you have done it.
[00:17:45.770] – Hilary Erickson
So check out her course, you guys. OK, well, thank you. Thanks for coming on. OK, guys, like I said in the beginning, I do hope that you didn’t take this is like a guilt trip, like, oh my gosh, I mixed Bletch with Fabulosos, which I have done. So I’m still alive.
[00:18:00.740] – Hilary Erickson
But just something to think about going forward, what chemicals we’re bringing into our home. Again, everything’s a chemical. If they’re safe, if we could find a better alternative, that is more safe, huzzah to that. Right? And also cleaning and disinfecting. I think people got a little bit crazy during Covid and we’re going to have to rein it in a little bit. It’s not so important to disinfect again, something I did mention in the episode, but is a real soapbox of mine.
[00:18:23.360] – Hilary Erickson
You don’t have to wash with antimicrobial soap. You know, the action of rubbing your hands together with a soap is antimicrobial in its own. So you don’t need what is it, tricyclicans or something that are in antibacterial soap to, you know, get in your body. Same thing with cleaning. If something that is safer can do just as good of a job, let’s use it. Right. Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the snarls in your life.
[00:18:46.850] – Hilary Erickson
We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.