Health is not just about being healthy, it includes being safe. The health risks of common household chemicals are well known by parents and communities, and the number of reported cases of cancer and other diseases associated with e.g. cleaners, paints and other household chemicals is on the rise. Recently, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of chemicals called the ‘Safer Choice’ list. According to the EPA, these chemicals have the potential to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, and they have been linked to developmental and neurological problems. The EPA’s list provides a safer choice guide for consumers and certified professionals, and helps them to choose safer cleaners. The guide also offers the consumer tips on how to reduce their exposure to these chemicals
Household cleaners are a staple of our daily lives in the United States. The practice of using potentially harmful chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine and bleach, in the home is so common that it has become the focus of most consumer safety complaints. But is it safe?
There are a lot of household cleaners on the market, and many of them are highly toxic, and can be dangerous. They can also be expensive and most of the time they don’t help the cleaning process. In the article we discuss how to find safer alternatives, and explain some of the dangers around the use of toxic household cleaners.. Read more about best non toxic cleaning products 2020 and let us know what you think.
Many common cleaning products include hazardous chemicals that are harmful to both our health and the environment. However, equipped with the knowledge provided in this article, you may choose safer and equally productive choices.
When you go down the cleaning supplies aisle at your local supermarket, you’ll see a vast variety of items, many of which you’ve seen advertised.
With so many options and strong marketing, it may be difficult to determine what you actually need to clean your house, which chemicals may do more damage than good, and which businesses are attempting to balance efficacy and safety.
We’ll go through the following topics in this article:
- Why is it so difficult to find safe cleaners?
- Why should you be concerned about cleaner safety?
- Chemicals to keep an eye out for
- What are the best ways to select safer and healthier options?
Cleaners that are both safe and effective are a problem.
We expose our bodies to toxins when we use cleaning goods. Chemicals may be inhaled, absorbed via the skin, or come into touch with mucous membranes. (See below for further information on particular exposure concerns.)
When we use cleansers and then flush them down the toilet, they wind up in our waterways, posing a danger to aquatic life.
Unfortunately, despite these well-known dangers, most major cleaner manufacturers seem to be more concerned with their brand image and business line than with the possible hazards of their products.
What’s in the bottle, exactly?
It’s difficult to say. On the label, manufacturers are not required to include all of their components.
Consider the following example:
- Manufacturers are not required to define what is included in the term “fragrance.”
- They’re also not obligated to disclose trade-secret components.
- They may also employ ambiguous words to describe virtually anything they don’t want to mention, such as “cleaning agent” or “quaternary ammonium compound.”
You don’t always know what you’re purchasing and how to use it.
So, what should a worried shopper do? How can you be sure you’re purchasing goods that are both safe and effective?
Investigating your cleaning supplies
First, read the labels.
Start by reading the labels on your cleaning products, even if certain chemicals aren’t included on the label (and even if they are, you may need a PhD in advanced chemistry to figure out what they are).
Keep an eye out for two things:
- cautions about how to use it (e.g., don’t get it in your eyes, wear gloves, etc. ); and
- the components listed in this article
Don’t be misled by marketing promises such as “natural,” “green,” “eco-friendly,” “organic,” and so on.
Step 2: Examine a database of healthful cleaners.
Check out the Guide to Healthy Cleaning database from the Environmental Working Group.
You can look up the safety of the cleaning products you use at home and discover how safe – or dangerous – they are. You may also look for safer items to use in your home, as well as specific components discovered in products that have not yet been evaluated by the Working Group.
The EWG’s database is a fantastic resource that we strongly recommend.
Cleaning products are regulated by who?
Before dealing with dangerous chemicals, we may need to put on protective gear at work. In fact, it’s possible that our occupational rules will demand it.
We don’t frequently think about it at home. We may believe that home goods are safe. They’ve been thoroughly tested. Perhaps our government would never permit the widespread (and sometimes unspoken) usage of hazardous substances.
Cleaning product manufacturers in the United States and Canada may utilize virtually any component or raw material in their product formulations without government inspection or permission. Manufacturers are also not required to include all of their components on the product label.
The industry-led Consumer Ingredient Communication Initiative (CICI) in Canada does offer some information to consumers. Companies who have decided to participate have committed to list the components in their goods on their website, through a customer service hotline, or on the packaging label. However, without rules, no one will be able to enforce this agreement.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 sets out what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may do to control the business in the United States, and it’s not much.
Companies may voluntarily recall a product or chemical if the EPA believes it presents an undue risk of harm.
While voluntary recalls do occur, they usually concentrate on acute harm risks like chemical burns or fire dangers, rather than subtle, chronic, or slow-developing issues like asthma or cancer.
Before adding chemicals into cleaning products, companies do not have to show that they are safe.
How are we exposed to danger?
While we don’t eat, drink, or wash with these items, we do inhale sprays and powders, absorb chemicals via our skin and mucous membranes, and ingest many of them by mistake. Chemical residues on surfaces or in home dust may contaminate your skin and food.
In fact, the Silent Spring Institute discovered 66 hormone-disrupting chemicals in household “dust bunnies,” including flame retardants, home-use pesticides (such as triclosan), phthalates, and more!
Is this enough to make a difference?
Even in healthy individuals and in very tiny quantities, several chemicals in cleaning products damage or irritate the lungs and may start or induce asthma. Endocrine disruptors, which raise the risk of cancer and reproductive disorders, may irritate, damage, or even burn the skin and eyes.
Children are especially vulnerable.
Cleaning chemicals including phthalates and synthetic musk (from scent), alkylphenols, and triclosan were found in the blood of the majority of individuals tested for chemical exposure.
Occasional exposure to many of these chemicals may not be harmful, but repeated exposure over the course of a lifetime may raise the risk of a variety of health problems. Because no safety testing is needed, we don’t know anything about the risks.
It’s very frightening.
What substances are we discussing?
Hypochlorite of sodium
The primary ingredient in most commercial chlorine bleach formulations is sodium hypochlorite. It may irritate and burn the skin, as well as cause and exacerbate asthma and respiratory issues, as well as poison marine life. It may also be related to cancer and reproductive issues.
Ammonium compounds with a quaternary structure
These are often used to cover the cloth with dryer sheets.
Many quaternary ammonium compounds, which are sometimes mentioned separately and sometimes just by the category name alone, are not fully disclosed by the business. Many of these chemicals inflict serious burns and eye damage, are very hazardous to aquatic life, and have been linked to asthma.
These substances include:
• chloride of benzalkonium, chloride of stearalkonium, chloride of centrimonium, chloride of stearalkonium, chloride of stearalkonium, chloride of stearalkonium • quaternium 1 to 29
Releasers of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde releasers are an antibacterial preservative that is used in many home cleaning products in the United States to prolong their shelf life.
They are extremely allergic and damaging to the immune system and skin. Inhaled formaldehyde is classified as a recognized human carcinogen by the US government and the World Health Organization.
Formaldehyde releasers include the following compounds, which may be found in a variety of cleaning products:
• DMDM hydantoin hydantoin hydantoin hydanto (trade name Glydant) • quaternium-15 • imidazolidinyl urea • diazolidinyl urea • hydroxymethylglycinate • hexahydro-1,3,5-tris • bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol) (2-hydroxyethyl) -S-triazine is a kind of triazine (trade name Grotan)
Antibacterial pesticide triclosan is included in several dishwashing liquids and hand soaps.
It is very harmful to aquatic life and has long-term consequences. It has the potential to increase bacterial resistance, serve as an endocrine disruptor, and reduce thyroid function, among other endocrine toxicity concerns.
Fragrance may be present in almost all types of home cleansers.
There are at least 3,163 distinct compounds that may be classified as “fragrance.” The Environmental Working Group discovered that the “fragrance” component on the label is made up of 14 undisclosed chemicals on average.
Allergies, dermatitis, respiratory discomfort, and possible effects on the reproductive system, such as decreased sperm count, have all been linked to fragrance combinations. Fragrance is one of the top five allergens in the globe.
To make scent combinations stay longer, phthalates are frequently employed.
Pthalate exposure has been linked to a variety of issues, including low sperm count and an increased risk of sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system (especially when male babies are exposed in the womb through their mothers), neurobehavioral issues, and insulin resistance, according to several studies.
Phthalates are virtually never mentioned as a separate component.
1,4-dioxane is a potential human carcinogen that is found in a variety of cleaning products. It is a by-product of the chemical manufacturing process and is not utilized as an ingredient.
It irritates the eyes and respiratory tract, and it may harm the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys if you get too much of it. Several people have died as a consequence of unintentional worker exposure.
Keep in mind that, although these seven categories are essential, they are not exhaustive, since cleaning firms use a wide range of potentially hazardous chemicals.
What exactly does this imply?
Examine the cleaning products you presently use and consider if their efficacy is worth the health hazards they pose to you and your family.
There are a plethora of much more humane and ecologically friendly cleaning solutions available that are just as effective and cheap as name-brand cleaning products.
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning database to discover how each of the items you use stacks up. If a product has a low rating, you may browse by category to discover a better option. Give yourself a high five if it gets a good grade!
Cleaning that is safer and more environmentally friendly
I’ve outlined several safe and effective items that I use in my house, as well as some additional suggestions for greener cleaning and a safer environment for you and your loved ones, to save you some time and effort.
Whether you prefer to do your dishes by hand or in the dishwasher (most likely both), there are safe and efficient cleansers available.
Here are two highly rated and effective products:
- Automatic Dishwasher Detergent from Seventh Generation is in the dishwasher. It works just as well as products with scents or dyes when it’s free of them.
- Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid is ideal for doing dishes by hand.
Antibacterial dishwashing detergents should be avoided since they include triclosan, which is completely unneeded and has not been shown to be any more effective than normal cleaning agents.
Many people are picky when it comes to laundry detergent. They swear their favorite detergent cleans the best, or they adore the scent it gives their clothes.
Unfortunately, that odor can trigger asthma or other respiratory issues. Furthermore, many laundry detergents leave soapy residues on clothes, which can dull colors, stiffen fabrics, and irritate skin.
Many people believe that using more detergent will make their clothes cleaner. This, however, is not the case. We don’t need as much detergent as we would think since most detergents nowadays are concentrated, and many individuals use high-efficiency washers.
In fact, using more detergent than necessary causes your clothes to be less effectively washed. It creates a soapy residue on clothes that fades colors and invites dirt.
Excess detergent will also build up in your machine, encouraging bacteria growth and odor, lowering your washer’s performance and lifespan. And, of course, wasting and overpaying for detergent is a no-brainer.
Whether for HE front-loaders or conventional top-loaders, Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Powder, Free & Clear is an effective product.
Add a few drops of plant-derived essential oils to the wash if you’re dead set on a particular scent on your clothes.
Softener for fabrics
Conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets leave a layer of chemicals on your clothes, the most dangerous of which are quaternary ammonium compounds. These chemicals make fabrics feel smoother and reduce static buildup during tumble drying.
Fabric softener accumulation may cause reduced absorbency, which is clearly undesirable for towels and washcloths, but most people aren’t aware of this.
Most fabric softeners and dryer sheets, on the other hand, contain fragrances. Many of the chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets are classified as “asthmagens” by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a leading international authority on asthma. Asthmagens are substances that can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people.
While the danger from fragrance may seem random or inconclusive, a 2010 University of Washington research evaluated 25 widely used scented laundry items, put them through a wash cycle, and measured the amount of smell released by the dryer.
They discovered 133 distinct compounds, on average 17 per product, and more than a third of the items emitted a chemical designated as a potential carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Nearly a quarter of the 133 substances were designated as harmful or dangerous under at least one federal statute. Only one of the 133 chemicals was found on a product label!
These chemicals have no place in your laundry or on your clothing, and your neighbors are unlikely to want to inhale them.
Instead of using scented liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, try substituting distilled white vinegar for normal fabric softener. With the last rinse cycle, just use 12 cup.
Vinegar has a number of advantages for your laundry, including:
• Dissolving alkaline residues left on your clothing by the detergent, leaving your garments brighter, clearer, and softer. • Removing soap scum and mineral deposits that may build up in your washing machine • Removing unpleasant smells that your detergent may have missed • Assisting in the prevention of mold and mildew development
If you’re also using chlorine bleach, you shouldn’t use vinegar. And don’t worry, vinegar won’t make your clothing smell like a salad or impair fabric absorbency.
Vinegar softens clothing more than it removes static cling. If you want to use dryer sheets to assist reduce static cling, an unscented product like Seventh Generation Natural Fabric Softener Sheets is a great option.
Whitener / bleach
Many people choose to use chlorine bleach to whiten their clothes since chlorine is a powerful whitener. Chlorine bleach, on the other hand, is toxic and caustic, and if you have a septic system, it will kill a lot of the bacteria that are needed to break down the sediments that build up in your tank.
Instead, consider using:
- a non-chlorine bleach, such as Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Bleach, that cleans using hydrogen peroxide; hydrogen peroxide is a safe and efficient stain remover; or
- Deodorizing and whitening with borax (look for it in the laundry section of the store)
If you have any weird workout clothing, soak them in a baking soda and water solution before washing.
Keep the washing door open between usage if at all feasible. This allows the washer to dry out, preventing mold and mildew growth.
Taking care of the bathroom
Many individuals believe that sanitizing their toilets with a death blast of chemicals is necessary.
We would never recommend living in squalor. You don’t have to destroy every single microbe in your toilet, however.
Antibacterial cleansers, such as bleach, have not been proven to be any more effective than conventional cleaners in preventing sickness at home, according to research. In reality, the American Medical Association advises against using antibacterial cleaning products (such as chlorine bleach and triclosan) since there is no evidence that they improve health and because overuse may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
While antibacterial cleaning solutions are useful in hospitals, there is little proof that they are necessary at home.
We advise you to:
- Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner of the Seventh Generation
- Seventh Generation Natural Tub & Tile Cleaner for sink, shower, and tile
- You may also remove hard water buildup using a combination of white vinegar and water, or by scrubbing stubborn dirt with a wet sponge dipped in baking soda.
- For toilet bowl cleaning, a solution of borax and water will suffice. (dump it in and wait a few minutes before scrubbing and flushing)
The floor should be cleaned.
Unfortunately, many conventional floor cleaners include some of the noxious chemicals mentioned at the start of this essay. They’re definitely causing you more damage than good, and there are plenty of safer alternatives.
Aussan Natural Floor Cleaner Concentrate is a product I suggest.
Another excellent solution for eliminating stubborn carpet stains is Martha Stewart Clean Carpet Stain Remover. (That Martha Stewart, of course.) In reality, many of the Clean line’s products are very safe and effective.)
Cleaner with many uses
For a multi-purpose or all-purpose general cleaner, I prefer Aussan Natural all-purpose cleaner. Baking soda is also an excellent cleaning and stain-removal agent.
Whole Foods Green MISSION Surface Cleaning Wipes are a wonderful choice if you prefer to use pre-wet wipes. However, it is a good idea to restrict your usage of this kind of product. Often, a reused cloth will suffice.
Glass & window cleaner
Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window and Glass Cleaner is a great alternative to Windex.
A low-tech solution of 14 cup distilled vinegar, two cups water, and a teaspoon of ordinary dishwashing detergent may also be used. The dishwashing liquid eliminates the residue that professional cleaners leave on the windows.
By the way, instead of using paper towel, clean windows with crumpled-up old newspapers. It saves money on paper towels, gives a streak-free sheen, and allows you to reuse newspapers before recycling them.
a polish for wood
Pledge doesn’t make the cut. Citra-Solv Citra Wood Natural Wood & Furniture Polish is a better option. You could also try an old-fashioned beeswax polish or some olive oil with a squeeze of lemon juice (drip a little on a soft cloth, then use the cloth to polish the wood).
The most effective method to make changes
What is the best course of action now that you’ve decided you want to alter the items you use to clean your house, clothing, and dishes?
First and foremost, don’t be in a rush to flush or dispose of your goods.
These chemicals may damage animals and pollute streams and rivers if they get into waterways. Simply use up what you have before switching to a safer alternative.
It’s unlikely that a couple additional usage will damage you. However, if you have particular concerns, such as being pregnant or about to become pregnant, or already suffering from asthma or allergies, or just want to get rid of them fast, contact your local town office to find out where you may drop off hazardous trash.
As you complete outdated and hazardous cleaners, just replace them with newer and safer ones.
Choose items that you’ve studied and found to be safe, easy to use, affordable, and effective for your requirements.
A Tips for Greener Cleaning and a DIY Cleaning Guide are included with a modest contribution to the Environmental Working Group. I own both, and they’re fantastic!
Finally, although many Seventh Generation products are classified as safe cleansers, don’t assume that this company’s whole product line is safe. Many of them, such as their liquid dishwashing and laundry detergents, do not.
It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods that are specific to you.
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Household cleaning products can be dangerous if not used properly, but there are some cheap and easy ways to reduce household toxic exposure.. Read more about safely cleaning products website and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the safest household cleaner?
I am not sure what you mean by safe but the best household cleaner is a mixture of vinegar and water.
How do you know what cleaning products are safe?
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What are safe substitutes for hazardous chemical cleaners?
There are a number of safe substitutes for hazardous chemical cleaners. Some of these include vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- cleaning products
- list of cleaning products brands
- safe cleaning products
- homemade cleaning products
- natural cleaning products