You are a cleaning machine!
You scrub counters and floors with the most powerful disinfectants you can buy, and stovetops, kid’s toys and even your family’s hands all get the super-sanitizing treatment.
There is nothing which escapes your eagle-eye for cleanliness, and when you get to the bathroom? Whoa Nellie, talk about going nuclear on those micro-organisms!
And of course, you do this in order to keep you and your family clean, safe, and healthy.
After all, a dead germ is a good germ, right?
Hmmm, maybe not so fast.
An Entire Ecosystem Inside You
You see, with bacteria, it is kind of like in the cowboy movies, where there are good guys and bad guys.
And also like in the movies, the good guys most often win.
Beyond what we commonly know of as germs–as in the bad kind; the E-coli, Salmonella, Flu Virus and such–are a whole slew of bacterias which, believe it or not, may be doing more than their share in keeping the aforementioned bad guys at bay.
In fact, all bacteria–good and bad–form ecosystems inside of you, as well as on you and around you.
Now, let’s think about that for a moment. Is there any ecosystem on the planet which has no importance or purpose?
Of course not.
Just as we need the bees-to-pollinate-the-flowers-to-grow-food-and-produce-oxygen and so on and so forth, we also need a full host of micro-organisms so that all life may exist.
A World Without Bacteria
In fact, just for kicks, let’s take a look at the words “probiotic” and “antibiotic.”
The root word, biotic, literally means “life,” and we are all familiar with the terms “pro” and “anti” as meaning “for” and “against,” respectively.
So with this in mind, an antibiotic means just that–“against life.“
Now let’s present the fact that the bad bacteria represent only around 10% of the overall bacterial population, meaning that the remaining 90% are good bacteria (or at least benign bacteria which will not harm you).
And by good, we mean they are responsible for things like keeping us supplied with such essentials as carbon and nitrogen, as well as breaking down organic matter and allowing our digestive systems to work. Yes, you heard that right–even your digestive system relies on a synonymous relationship with bacteria. Without those helpful little microbes, we would have a pretty hard time assimilating nutrition!.
So, are you starting to rethink the whole kill-’em-all idea yet?
It’s All About Avoiding Getting Sick
So, getting back to you and your family’s health, and all the germ killing you do in order to keep those illness-causing pathogen’s away.
Remember the whole thing about there being good guys and bad guys, with good guys holding down 90% of the bacterial population? Well, without that 90% on you, around you and in you, the 10% would be wreaking havoc on your health, since there would no longer be good bacteria there to keep the bad guys at bay.
That’s right–the good guys are there fighting the bad guys on your behalf!
There is also your immune system, which needs something to fight against in order for it to stay strong, since your immune system is similar to your muscles, in that the more use it gets, the stronger it gets.
In fact, it has been shown that kids who grow up with exposure to bacteria (such as kids on farms) are far less likely to experience illness and allergies as adults than those who grew up in “clean” environments.
Unfortunately, while we as adults can improve our immune systems with exposure to pathogens, it is not to the same degree as had we grown up with the same exposure, so it is kids who benefit the most by strengthening their immune systems at an early age.
The bottom line? Go out and play in the dirt–or even more importantly, let your kids play in the dirt–it may be just what the doctor ordered!
Now, About Those Cleaning Products….
So let’s get back to your house cleaning…and hand cleaning, and everything-you-touch-cleaning.
No, being clean is not a bad thing. In fact, simply washing your hands may be the single most effective way for you to avoid getting sick.
And, since chemical sanitizers typically kill 99.9% of all germs they come in contact with, the 00.01% which survive are then left to reproduce, meaning it is their genetic structure (you know, the genetic structure which can survive hand sanitizer?) which is then being passed onto future generations of bacteria.
In other words, survival of the fittest creates resistant strains of bacteria, which means that your sanitizer is becoming less effective than washing your hands with soap and water!
And the same can be said about most disinfectant counter-cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and floor cleaners–most of which, by the way, are not doing our environment a whole lot of good either.
In fact, studies show that chemicals such as Triclosan and Benzalkonium Chloride not only remain in our waterways and ecosystems where they wreak havoc on amphibian populations, algae and other life forms essential to a healthy environment, but they are also known endocrine disruptors and can cause asthma, skin conditions and may even lead to cancer–certainly not what would be considered “good for you (or anything else)!”
But How Can We Stay Clean?
If you must use a sanitizer, there are options, although again, simply using soap and water is likely the best, most effective choice.
However, sanitizers containing an active ingredient such as alcohol or Thymol are some of your better choices.
Not only do alcohol and Thymol break down all proteins in microbes, rather than hitting on specific ones and essentially limiting what they are capable of (as with most antibacterial chemicals), they are also naturally occurring (Thymol is derived from the same herb Thyme which you use to cook with), and will naturally break down in our environment, rather than sticking around for years and years to destroy the environment.
There are also natural antibacterial and antifungal properties in things like:
- Coconut oil.
- Grapefruit seed extract.
And of course, one of the best antibiotics is a probiotic, since populating your system with good bacteria gives the bad bacteria even more opposition to their nasty agenda (and that’s just one of it’s benefits–more on this in a future post).
The Bottom Line?
Your sanitizing habit may be doing more to promote your family’s illnesses than the bacteria you are attempting to get rid of.
And, even if that were not the case, is it really a good idea to continue dumping harsh chemicals into our environment, rather than preserving and embracing the natural world around us?
Of course the answer is a resounding “no,” since once the environment is gone, it is gone for good (and likewise so are we!).
So, next time you need to give your house the old top-to-bottom, consider swapping out that bottle of industrial strength chemicals for some grapefruit seed extract, or a DIY tea tree oil and baking soda toilet cleaner, which can not only help you and the environment stay healthy, but may also save you a few bucks along way!