What Cleaning Products are Harmful

Harmful Cleaning Products to Avoid in Your Home

Many of today’s modern cleaning products are effective at cutting through dirt and grime. However, there’s a downside to some of these powerful cleaning products. Many contain toxic ingredients that are potentially harmful to people and animals. These harsh cleaning products can irritate the skin and eyes, and may cause breathing difficulties if you inhale the fumes. It’s particularly important to be aware of these harmful substances if you or anyone in your family suffers from skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis, if you have asthma or other breathing difficulties, or if you have young children at home.

1. Ammonia

Ammonia is commonly found in glass cleaner and polishes designed for use on taps and bathroom fittings. As it evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave streaks, it’s a popular ingredient for cleaning products. However, ammonia has an incredibly pungent smell and can irritate the lungs. Those suffering from asthma and breathing conditions will be particularly affected, and people being exposed to it regularly may even develop chronic bronchitis. Ammonia is also highly dangerous when mixed with bleach as it creates a poisonous gas.

2. Chlorine

Chlorine is a common bleaching agent. Many people have it in their homes in the form of chlorine bleach but it’s also a standard ingredient in scouring powders, mildew remover, and even tap water. In small amounts chlorine isn’t dangerous, however, at concentrated levels, it will irritate the skin and airways. You can cut down on your exposure to chlorine by switching to vinegar and chlorine-free bleach.

3. Sodium Hydroxide

The active ingredient in many oven cleaners, sodium hydroxide is highly caustic and will burn skin on contact. Exposure to the fumes can also burn the eyes and irritate the lungs and airways, causing sore throat and coughing. Instead of toxic oven cleaners, you can make your own healthier oven cleaner by mixing a paste out of baking soda and vinegar.

4. Air Fresheners

You might think a quick spritz of air freshener helps your home to smell and feel cleaner but you’re actually polluting the air inside your home. Air fresheners contain a cocktail of chemicals and toxic ingredients that can trigger asthma and breathing difficulties. Many scented products also contain phthalates – substances known to disrupt the endocrine system and reduce sperm count in men. For a healthier alternative in your home, use baking soda to eliminate bad odours and essential oils for a natural pleasant fragrance.

5. Dry Cleaning Solutions and Spot Removers

Spot stain removers and dry cleaning solutions often contain Perchloroethylene (PERC) – a neurotoxin and possible carcinogen. People with frequent exposure to PERC often experience headaches, dizziness, and other worrying symptoms. To avoid exposure to this dangerous substance in your home avoid dry cleaning clothes and curtains and use castile soap or normal dishwashing detergent as a spot stain remover.

6. Antibacterial Detergents

The active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps and dishwashing liquids is Triclosan – a highly aggressive antibacterial. While Tricolsan does indeed kill off harmful bacteria, it also destroys beneficial bacteria and is thought to promote the growth of drug-resistant microbes. Effective and safe natural anti-bacterials to use instead include tea tree oil, white vinegar, alcohol, and hot water or steam.

7. Fabric Conditioners

Fabric conditioners may make your clothes soft and smell nice but they have the same problem as other types of artificial fragrance – they can irritate the airway and trigger asthma symptoms. Clothes washed in fabric conditioner can also cause rashes and skin irritations, particularly in babies and those with sensitive skin. Adding vinegar to your wash is an effective natural softener and removes soap residue. You can add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender for an equally pleasing fragrance.

8. Window and Multipurpose Cleaners

Many window and multipurpose spray cleaners contain 2-butoxyethanol – a solvent that can cause sore throats when inhaled and is also thought to contribute to more serious medical conditions including liver and kidney damage. Avoid using these cleaners in unventilated areas, or even better – replace with a natural cleaning spray made with vinegar and essential oils.