How Toxic Are Your Household Cleaners
When many people think of a cleaning their homes they think about things such as the doing dishes, laundry, cleaning the carpets, bathrooms, the kitchen, and perhaps around the furniture just to name a few items. Unfortunately, the products that most people use to clean these spaces in their homes are loaded with toxic chemicals and carcinogenic agents. Here are some basic observations of the toxic chemicals used to clean an average home:
- Harmful to the environment
- Toxic to our children and pets
- Destroy indoor air quality
What is in Typical Household Cleaners
- Ammonium Compounds: You’re going to find this in a wide range of places including fabric softeners and other household cleaners. Consistent with Triclosan, these chemicals help create resistant strains of bacteria.
- Ammonia: You are going to find this in cleaners and polishing products throughout your house. It’s in kitchen, bath, glass, and jewelry cleaners. It’s used because it doesn’t leave streaks as it dries; however, it’s still a powerful irritant. Those most affected include people with respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or asthma. Mixed with bleach and the result is a toxic chloramine vapor.
- Chlorine: found in cleaners and whiteners / bleach. Chlorine is an acute respiratory irritant.
- Chlorinated phenols: Not only found in household disinfectants; but also used as a pesticide and herbicide.
- Diethylene glycol: This is a component of some window cleaners. You can also find it in the manufacturing process for plastics, polyurethane, and polyester resins. Poisoning impacts neurological and renal functions.
- Formaldehyde: historically used in spray and wick deodorizers. The National Toxicology Program which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deemed Formaldehyde a known human carcinogen.
- Phenols: found in disinfectants. Identified by the CDC as having an adverse impact on infants with exposure.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylate: found in laundry detergents and other cleaners – also banned in Europe. Other uses include paints, and pesticides. Their impact is to act as an endocrine disrupter as well as an imitator of estrogen.
- Petroleum solvents: Refined hydrocarbons that are used as cleaners damage mucous membranes.
- Phthalate: Found in fragranced household products (air fresheners, soaps,& toilet paper). Scents are not disclosed due to legal protection with proprietary scents. All you see is the word “fragrance” on the label. These are known endocrine disruptors. Don’t be fooled though – they are still very toxic.
- Triclosan: Can be found in liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps that include the antibacterial label. The EPA has historically reported Triclosans as safe for humans; however, new studies are starting to challenge this. The greater immediate concern is that overuse may lead to stronger strains of bacteria resistant to these agents. Ongoing review is needed.
- Sodium Hydroxide: more commonly known as lye and is found in drain openers and oven cleaners. Contact with skin can create severe and long-lasting burns.
- Perchloroethylene (PERC): according to the EPA, this is used predominantly by the dry cleaning industry (80% – 85% of all usage). Unfortunately, PERC affects the nervous system and is classified by the EPC as a “possible carcinogen”.
How Can I Be More Eco Friendly When I Clean
1. Know What is in Your Products
Manufacturers are not required to share all ingredients (for example, fragrances). Quality green cleaning product manufacturers use full disclosure as a selling point. They have nothing to hide behind. The key is to find those manufactures that you can trust. The most popular green cleaning manufacturers are:
- Seventh Generation
- J.R. Watkins
- Method Products
- Mrs. Meyers
2. Be Safer & Healthier
Accidents related to household cleaning supplies consistently rate the second and third most common calls to the National Poison Control Center. Minimize or outright avoid that risk by using eco-friendly cleaners from manufacturers you can trust. Stay clear of the toxic cleaners!
As you continue to use the healthier products you may also find visible irritants such as sore throats, coughs, sneezing, or headaches may go away. Long-term affects should improve as well as carcinogens and toxins are removed from your homes.
3. Be Green and Help the Environment
You will have a positive impact on the earth whether you choose to purchase healthier products or decide to make you own. Most homemade products are made with basic ingredients you can find in your kitchen of all places.
So Go Green, and make a positive impact!