In today’s article, we are talking about something non-pregos would laugh at. The topic of today is “sniffing pine-sol while pregnant.” Don’t laugh! When you are pregnant for the first time, you seriously wonder all the time whether simple things that you did every day before conception is actually causing serious harm.
Oh, the memories…
I love the smell of our home after a thorough cleaning. Not only is it refreshing, but it stirs so many great memories. I remember my grandmother cleaning the woodwork in her Victorian home and the smell of the wood afterwards. The woodwork gleamed, the air had a pine-like tang, and that old house reveled in its restored glory. Afterwards, she would take me into the kitchen and bake cookies. Those smells always bring back cherished times.
Immediately after becoming pregnant, I found myself craving some of those odors from my past. They brought back my fondest memories, and stirred in me the mothering desire to do the same for my baby. I’ll admit, some of the smells that attracted me were odd, like liver and onions―a pregnancy-only odor and food craving for sure!
I never thought of myself as a nester, but becoming pregnant changed all that. Suddenly, nothing was right, or clean enough. Quickly, I found my pre-pregnancy energy levels and bounced around the house, making sure everything was right before our son was born. Like my grandmother, I broke out the Pine-Sol and took to cleaning with vigor. The smell took me back, but I also wondered if that scent could do more harm than good.
Cleaning Solutions and VOCs
Let’s cut to it. Most commercially available cleaning solutions are chock full of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Including my favorite, Pine-Sol. VOCS are basically chemical compounds that evaporate at normal indoor air conditions (known as off-gassing). That pine smell? Probably a VOC. The paint drying, it most likely has VOCs. Everything we use gives off fumes. For instance, your carpets are releasing fumes. Along with your furniture, and possibly even clothing. Even though we do our best to minimize these releases in our home environment, we can’t stop them all. They are everywhere.
The trick is in the advertising. Fumes are bad, likewise so is anything labeled as an odor. But call it a scent (hello, household cleaners) and it has a whole new vibe. Because it smells good, doesn’t mean that it is good. Likewise, our very own memories can trick us into the same thing. Hence, my affinity for pine-scented cleaners. Now, every time I clean, I remind myself that I am off-gassing my home. Doesn’t sound pretty, does it? Not in the least bit. On the contrary, it’s downright dubious.
Unfortunately, there is no escaping VOCs in our modern world. Like the other conveniences we enjoy, they are part of our environment. The real goal is to minimize exposures. If we avoided every exposure while pregnant, we would be hermits.
Cleaning with Pine-Sol
Did I give up my love of Pine-Sol? Not one bit. Everything in moderation, right? Truthfully, after reading the labels, I didn’t see a reason why. By the same token, I knew that I had to keep my cleaning tendencies within the range of normal. The floors could go a few days between cleanings. Even a week. After all, it was only my husband and I in the house. Even our beloved furry children had yet to arrive.
What I did was use the solution in accordance with the label. I diluted it, too. The floors were clean and the lingering scent of pine that made my memories stir. What I discovered is that there are limited studies detailing the effects of cleaning products on pregnant mothers. Is it safe? I would say yes, but always use caution. Do you have asthma or other breathing problems? Take those factors into consideration.
Some of the ingredients in cleaners like Pine-Sol could affect hormones during pregnancy. Likewise, some of those ingredients could find their way into your breastmilk. But unless you’re regularly sniffing from the bottle, typical household usage shouldn’t be an issue. For me, I think I craved the odor more than the cleaning effects of the product. We’re creatures of habit first and foremost, although some of those habits should get a second look when taking potential health risks into consideration.
Today, there are many products out there that can get the same result without the potential for harm. Fortunately, some of these products are now available in neighborhood grocery stores. Additionally, the prices in many eco-friendly cleaning products have made them very competitive against their traditional counterparts.
Ask yourself: Is this cleaner necessary? For me, it was a yes and no. It was part of my childhood, and while pregnant, those memories drove my nesting instinct. But even I was able to take that into account and make some changes that made me feel good about keeping a safe and clean home. All the while, I held onto some of the traditions that nurtured my ideas of home.
Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the greatest difference.
Replacing the Pine Scent
Like I said, part of my draw to Pine-Sol was the smell. The scent brought back vivid, happy memories. Imagine yourself somewhere and a treasured scent fills the air. Close your eyes and you are back in time, reliving those warm memories. I know it sounds odd, but the scent of Pine-Sol did that for me.
Instead of getting my nostalgic fix from cleaning, I found alternate sources. As the winter holidays approached, fresh pine cuttings were easy to find. As such, they found their way into my day-to-day decorating. A splash of pine boughs highlighted our dining room table, wreaths welcomed every entranceway, and cuttings adorned our mantle. I even bumped it up a notch with juniper berry potpourri in a warmer. The scent was everywhere, and brought back those memories while easing my worried mind.
Today, I keep the Pine-Sol in my cleaning closet. It’s safe in moderation, and our son and daughter know that the scent means it’s time for chores. I’m hoping to show them the joys of creating simple memories and maintaining a home. Today, we fill our journeys outdoors with gathering natural, pleasant scents to make those memories vivid whenever they close their eyes.
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