The Dirty Details about Cleaning Supplies

The Dirty Details about Cleaning Supplies

Are you cleaning your home with toxins?

Just like cosmetics and personal care items, household cleaning products (laundry detergents, disinfectants, dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, and many more) are full of harmful ingredients. These products have even less regulation than the poorly regulated cosmetic and personal care items, and therefore, companies have no obligation to disclose the ingredients.

Don’t be deceived by marketing claims, as cleaning products are often greenwashed! If a product claims to be “all-natural, safe, green” take a look at the ingredients to see for yourself.

Similar to personal care products, cleaning products enter the bloodstream through our skin and lungs. While we are not applying these products directly to our skin, washing our clothes and dishes with them significantly increases our exposure to the chemicals they contain. In addition, many chemicals found in cleaning supplies linger in the air for hours.

If the ingredients aren’t listed on the package or you cannot access them online, chances are there are some sketchy chemicals they don’t want you to know about.

The Dirty Details:

– Over 17,000 chemicals are legal to include in cleaning products. Less than 1/3 of these are tested for safety.
– 3,163 different harmful chemicals are legally called “fragrance”.
– The average American home contains 3-10 gallons of toxic substances in the form of cleaning supplies.
– Research conducted in 2012 has shown that many ingredients used in cleaning supplies are banned in other countries.
– Almost all spray cleaners and disinfectants contain asthmagens, which cause asthma and can trigger asthma attacks among those who already have asthma.
– Children and pregnant women are even more vulnerable to these chemicals.

To give you an understanding of how these chemicals impact our health, here are just a few of the many chemicals used in cleaning supplies and how each one can impact us.

Common chemicals found in everyday cleaners include:

Glycol Ethers: known to cause fatigue, nausea, and possible liver and kidney damage, certain ethers can cause severe damage to heart, kidneys, and brain, and the most common ether, 2-butoxytenal has been known to cause liver cancer in animals
Perflourinated Compounds (PFCs): determined a likely human carcinogen by the EPA in 2006, PFCs are carcinogenic and hormone disruptors, contributing to cancer, reproductive problems, organ damage, and immune system issues.
Phthalates: cause reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, organ damage, and cancer
Fragrance: Defined as a cocktail of chemicals that produce a particular scent, thousands of chemicals can be included under the term ‘fragrance’, without being listed on the ingredient label. Up to 95% of ingredients called “fragrance” are derived from petrochemicals.
Phosphates: cause widespread environmental damage
Sodium hypochlorite: corrosive to skin and lining of nose, mouth, and throat
Nonylphenol Ethoxylates: banned in Europe, known as “gender-benders” because of their potent endocrine disruptive compounds that transform male fish into female fish.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): cause nose and throat irritation, dizziness, and asthma
Petroleum based componds: damage mucous membranes
Chlorine: irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs
Ethanolamines: known asthmagen (causes asthma), irritates skin, eyes, and lungs
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: skin and eye irritant, potentially causes cancer
Formaldehyde: known carcinogen, strong irritant to eyes, throat, skin, lungs
suspected carcinogen, toxic to the brain and central nervous system, as well respiratory system, kidneys, and liver
Chloroform: suspected carcinogen
Phenol: can cause central nervous system depression, severely affect circulatory system, corrosive to skin, suspected carcinogen
Ammonia: irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, can cause asthma, can produce deadly gas if combined with chlorine
Sodium Borate: known endocrine disruptors
Isopropanol: irritates mucous membranes, ingestion results in drowsiness, unconsciousness, and death

If you aren’t sure about the safety of your cleaning products, you can search them here.
Or if they contain any of the ingredients listed above, it’s time for a swap.

Nontoxic & Safe Cleaning Alternatives:

For everyday cleaning needs, simply use microfiber towels (great for deep-cleaning) and essential oils like lemon and tea tree! My favorite laundry supplies are from Buckaroo Organics. They have a nontoxic detergent and replacements for dryer sheets, plus they offer essential oils which are great for laundry and other cleaning needs.

Avoiding the unnecessary chemicals in common cleaning supplies reduces your exposure to harmful toxins. Making the switch to nontoxic cleaning supplies is easy! Who wants to be cleaning their home with dangerous ingredients, anyways?

Have you thought about what’s in your cleaning supplies? Experienced any sensitivities or reactions to chemical cleaning products? What are you using to clean your home?

Sources and Further Reading:

Environmental Working Group: Cleaning Supplies and Your Health, Secret Ingredients, Hidden Hazards
Dr. Mercola: Beware: Most Green Cleaning Products Contain…
Cleveland Clinic: What’s In My House
American Lung Association: Household Chemicals

Hannah Smith

Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.

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