I shiver to think how many times I’ve used straight chlorine bleach for everything from obliterating mold in my bathroom grout, toilet rims, and sink drains, to removing otherwise unrelenting stains from laundry whites. I’ve depended on it to disinfect and whiten Formica counter tops, cutting boards, the kitchen trash can, and even refrigerator bins. Outside, it was an integral part of spring cleaning outdoor furniture, decks, siding, patios, playground equipment, concrete walks, driveways. . . the list is endless.
What would we do without BLEACH?!
My decades of dependence on this caustic chemical began while watching my mother launder and clean for a household of seven and as I crawled out from under the shopping cart to make room for gallon of bleach probably every time we went to Publix.
Living on the waterfront in Miami’s humid tropics, bleach was pretty much a necessity; dirty clothes molded overnight and black mildew crept over everything that wasn’t constantly attended to.
I didn’t know there was any other way to clean and felt sorry for people who didn’t use Clorox for absolutely everything – their homes weren’t pristine, there was no “freshly bleached scent” emanating from their bathrooms and clean laundry piles, and house work was harder than it needed to be. Poor them!
I didn’t understand the consequences of residual toxicity and how every time I cleaned my environment I was doing the opposite to my body with this horrible toxin!
I’ve probably filled a landfill with the perfectly good clothes I’ve ruined since then, and that alone should have clued me in, if this stuff can eat a hole in fabric, what in the world was it doing to my skin?
And it wasn’t just my mom, I remember handling chlorine pool tabs with my bare hands, and being told to “swim around” with other kids to stir of fresh additions of the liquid form. Never mind the poison label on the container.
When I moved out on my own it was into a 99 year old farm house previously occupied by a smoker, with wood slat walls that came miraculously clean with straight bleach.
I went through that stuff like water.
Sometimes the fumes were overpowering (in extreme cases, after a dash for fresh air, it could take several minutes before I could see straight or breathe normally again). Leave it to me to figure I was just a physical weakling who would eventually build up a “resistance” to hunching over small puddles of bleach poured straight from the bottle onto tile grout – and then scrubbing vigorously with a stiff brush until I could no longer endure it.
I’m light-headed just thinking about it.
(But please don’t stop reading my blog this instant…I’m actually a well-rounded person with possible intelligence in other areas despite it being only a few months since I’ve began sorting out my dependence on bleach. . . and positive childhood associations with chlorine contaminated pool water.
(Let’s all cheer for the late-bloomers who might need to hear it right about now!)
These days, I understand I was experiencing asphyxia that caused dizzying delusions and could’ve killed me along with the brain cells that have fallen victim already.
This was especially the case when I’d “save time” by using Comet with Bleach (or straight Clorox) in the shower. . .uhm.
And when I got out of the shower, my feet and hands were extra silky smooth (This is a good thing, right? Good-BYE pumice stone!) but I was actually experiencing a chemical breakdown of my skin. And, then come to find out that our feet are one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies. Nice.
But the horrible-ness of bleach doesn’t end there (though I wear glove yellow rubber glove religiously these days).
It effects virtually every organ in our bodies and has been linked to infertility, pregnancy complications, and birth defects – so not worth it!)
(Wishing I’d known this sooner 🙁 )
So you’ve heard all the “confessions” and are asking, where’s the Recovering Bleachaholic part?
It’s actually a cold turkey story…
A few months back, I cleaned outdoor furniture with a rag, a bucket, the hose, and half a gallon of bleach. Two hours. No gloves.
That night, I burped (sorry, I realize this is probably not a middle school boy audience) and smelled bleach on my breath. It was also emanating from my skin as body odor.
I was horrified, said, “I’m forever done with bleach”, and I haven’t touched the stuff since.
Except, I got free Clorox laundry gel pens, and with no other bleach in the house, doled these out like ounces of liquid gold, little addict that I am.
Needless to say…I’ve experiences a little bit of an identity crisis without my bleach. My husband actually felt compelled to text (from work) about some shower mold, and I knew exactly what he was talking about.
So my whole life is crumbling around me.
And while I’ve been recovering, I’ve sought ways to alkalize and detox, which has led to a lot of lemons in the house, and…you guessed it…I’ve been going through those like water.
And why not? They’re inexpensive, readily available, non-toxic, edible, and have wonderful cleaning, whitening, and antiseptic properties. Who knew?!
Wishing I’d known more about the many fantastic uses of lemon! I’d have saved myself a lot of interaction with bleach and other harmful chemicals.
Goodbye (forever, hopefully) bleach! And hello beautiful yellows which can be used for everything from obliterating mold in my bathroom grout, toilet rims, and sink drains, to removing otherwise unrelenting stains from laundry whites. I’ve depended on it to disinfect and whiten Formica counter tops, cutting boards, the kitchen trash can, and even refrigerator bins. . . the list is endless.