Most of us don’t know what’s in the cleaning products that we’re spraying on our counters and pouring on our floors. We have other things on our minds like the pros and cons of sunshine and whether to eliminate gluten from our diets.
But, alas, there is good reason to take a few minutes to find out just what’s in the spray bottles under the counter. Some of the toxins can do permanent damage to you, loved ones, and the planet. (Gulp!) Thanks to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which allowed already established cleaning agents to go unregulated, many harmful ingredients are still found in cleaning products today. Some Control Act, huh?
Okay, so maybe now you’re convinced that you want to find out what you’re using to get rid of odors. Where do you start? Clearly not on the product label. Companies don’t need to list their ingredients anywhere. That said, some companies (thankfully) are more transparent, and with a little bit of digging you can find out exactly what you’re using to “clean” your home. (Your dogs, cats, kids, and fish in the ocean will thank you!)
Some of the worst offenders:
- Benzalkonium Chloride: Can cause asthma in previously healthy people.
- Bronopol (also known as 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol): Releases formaldehyde, exposing users to a potent carcinogen.
- Phthalates: A known hormone disruptor. For men, a higher phthalates in the blood stream means a lower sperm count.
- Perchloroethylene (“Perc”): A neurotoxin and possible carcinogen, California plans to eliminate all use by 2023.
- 2-Butoxyethanol: Can cause sore throats, and at high levels can cause narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.
- Ammonia: Long time exposure can cause chronic bronchitis and asthma.
- Chlorine: A respiratory irritant and possible thyroid disrupter.
- Sodium Hydroxide: Can cause severe burns to skin and sore throat that can last for days, if inhaled.
Glug. Glug. Glug.
Once these cleaners get poured down the drain, or flushed down the toilet, they don’t break down. This means that they continue to expose marine animals to their toxins and damage them in the same way they damage humans. Sorry Nemo.
Find (or make) another solution
- Here’s a great list of all natural solutions from Real Simple Magazine.
- Here’s a list of DIY products broken down by room and use:
- If you are not the DIY type, but would like a fresh, clean smelling home.