Cleaning products are supposed to, well, clean, right? They’re supposed to get rid of grime, bacteria, and other things that are harmful to our health and the health of our children. That’s what cleaning products are supposed to do, but you’d be surprised by some of the things that are actually in the bathroom cleaner, furniture polish, and laundry detergent that you use regularly.
After all, they do come with all these warnings and possible symptoms: keep away from children, watery eyes, do not swallow, chemical burns. Shouldn’t something that cleans our home be a bit safer than that? You’d think, but here are four things that are actually in your cleaning products, things that may actually contribute to indoor air pollution and chronic health problems.
This, however you pronounce it, is a common ingredient found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaner. It is banned in Europe (like many toxic ingredients found in American household cleaners), as it has been shown to disrupt the hormone system, to be toxic to aquatic life and to persist in the environment. It’s even been banned for any cleaning product manufactured after 2012 in California! To find this one, look for “nonylphen” or “nonoxynol” within the ingredient name.
Formaldehyde is found in spray and wick deodorizers as well as furniture polishes and wood treatments. It is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen. It’s also found in cigarettes and is used to preserve dead things, like the things you might have seen and studied in middle-school science, or your relatives in a funeral home.
Also known as DEGME, and also banned in the Europena Union (at levels higher than three percent), methoxydiglycol is not only found in American household cleaners like floor, bathroom, and oven cleaner, but in concentrations up to 15 times higher than what is allowed by the EU. On top of that, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says DEGME is “suspected of damaging the unborn child.” Don’t want to know what it could do to the rest of us.
Yes, chlorine and chlorinated phenols. This one may seem harmless, but it’s not the same stuff that’s in the neighborhood swimming pool. It’s found in toilet bowl cleaners, among others, and is toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems. Chlorine is also toxic because if it’s mixed with ammonia, which is found in bathroom cleaners and glass cleaner; it’s literally a deadly combination.
To Make This Even Worse…
Did you know that household cleaners are the only product in the United States that don’t have to list their ingredients, and if they do list ingredients, they don’t have to list them in order from greatest amount to least amount? This means that even if do take the time to inspect bottles for warnings, instructions, and ingredients, you might not be getting all the information you need to make a good decision. In fact, the generic brand of cleaning products found in Wal-Mart and Target don’t even have an ingredient list on them! The average household also contains anywhere from 3-25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in these cleaners, and most of which we might not even realize are there.
Guess what? There are Alternatives to All This!
Fortunately, you have more options than cleaning your home with these awful products, or living in filth the rest of your life. Basic ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and olive oil can be used to make your own cleaning products that are full of things that you can actually pronounce and recognize. Companies such as Seventh Generation, Full Circle, and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day actually specialize in eco-friendly and human-safe cleaning products, stuff that will leave your home smelling like lavender instead of toxic fumes. To cut down on the amount of chemicals and toxins, purchase cleaners in smaller quantities, and throw out half-full bottles and such after a significant period of time. There’s no reason to have this stuff sitting around your house.
Be Aware and Be Healthy!
May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Dr. Doormat, Inc.