By Andrea Takácsová Slovakia

Cleaning and personal care products usually contain various chemicals that can negatively affect our health. Some can cause allergic reactions, hormonal changes and even developmental disorders in children. Their use also increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. How can one clean and wash oneself with the least possible impact on health and the environment? 

The answer could be the concept of a non-toxic household. The goal is to replace chemicals and disposable products with sustainable products made from natural recyclable materials. A non-toxic home reverts to that which is natural and simple. Not so long ago, people only used homemade products for cleaning. Instead of cleaning agents, dishes were washed only with hot water. Before chemical agents were used, the water left after washing the dishes was always carried out to the goats or pigs. Soap was made during the butchering process, made of boiled bones to which lye was added.  Vinegar water was used instead of shampoo. 


There are many ways how individuals can prevent the generation of waste or the use of large amounts of chemicals. Shopping in bulk is becoming popular, with people using refillable containers. According to information from Ecoterra, during their seven years of operations in Slovakia they saved more than half a million tons of plastic bottles and more than five thousand kilograms of carbon dioxide. However, it is necessary to distinguish whether or not a product is natural, because conventional products are also found in bulk. 

Packaging-free washing with soap flakes, Photo: AT

Many times the chemicals in personal care or cleaning products can cause various reactions, especially in people with autoimmune diseases. Pavlína Pavlištová from SVĚT NON TOXIC advises: ,,Do not use fabric softeners. Add citric acid or white vinegar to the wash instead of a fabric softener to rinse the laundry soap from the fibers well. The most popular detergents have inappropriate compositions, which can even trigger autoimmune diseases due to the content of thiazoline-based preservatives. Lanolin soap is more suitable, and does not risk aggravating allergic reactions.” 

At the same time, she recommends getting rid of all commercial detergents, bleaches, and disinfectants. For normal cleaning, use vinegar and water, citric acid or percarbonate. There are cleaning products that are marked with certificates such as Cosmebio, Ecocert, USDA Organic, which guarantee safety not only for people, but also for nature. “Switching to non-toxic cleaning products has greatly helped treat my daughter’s autoimmune disease.  The disease is often related to allergic reactions on the skin.  At the same time natural cleaning and body care products protect the environment,” says Andrea Takácsová.


Waste can be prevented by using various products when washing dishes. Linen towels, soap nuts, coconut sponges, or loofah sponges, which are made from a special kind of pumpkin, are alternatives. Waste is also generated when removing makeup. An alternative gentler on the environment are hand-sewn pads for removing makeup. It is enough just to wash the pad and it can be used again. 

Martina Majerová, the owner of Amio, a refillery shop in Galanta says that the products are refilled into plastic, glass and paper packaging. Customers can bring their own packaging from home from cleaners or cosmetics they used up, or buy it in the store. If customers have more packaging than they need, they can bring it to the store where it is washed, disinfected and can be offered to other customers. According to her, they enjoy not only saving money, but also saving plastic, which they do not have to throw away.

Cleaning cloths that contain fibers with silver nanoparticles can also be helpful. They remove bacteria, fungi and viruses and thus significantly reduce the risk of developing diseases and bring relief from health problems. Silver nanoparticles are added directly to the fibers by a special patented process and do not wash off, significantly increasing the disinfecting effect.


Doctors recommend using disinfectants marked “antibacterial” only in special cases. “Most commonly available disinfectant gels contain a high proportion of alcohol, which is a skin-drying agent. With repeated daily use, there is irritation and dryness and cracking of the skin, and often secondary infections of the broken skin barrier,” said Dr. Mária Uhrinová, general practitioner for children and adolescents. Another danger is that germs and bacteria gradually become resistant to these disinfectants.

Today there are many gentler alternatives to conventional cleaning agents on the market, and each of us can choose to avoid harming our own bodies and the environment.

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