When purchasing cleaning supplies, what is the first thing you look for? The brand name, the smell of the cleaner, or what ingredients are in the solution?
A lot of cleaners available today are made up of a long list of chemicals, so many of us don’t bother reading the labels. Who understands a bunch of very specific scientific names anyways? Not reading the packaging though could turn out to be a big mistake. Here are some examples of chemicals you might find while cleaning:
- If your bottle of toilet bowl cleaner has Chlorinated Phenols on its label, throw it away unless you want to potentially ruin your respiratory and circulatory system!
- Love using window cleaners? Butyl Cellosolve is a common ingredient in them that may damage your bone marrow, kidneys and liver. This compound is a definite no-no as it is listed in the toxin section of the U.S. Clean Air and Water Acts!
- Next time you use a floor cleaner, the Petroleum Solvents in it might damage your mucous membranes.
These are just a few of the many harmful chemicals found in your cleaner, and the truth is cleaning using almost any chemical cleaner in general is detrimental to your health, regardless of what the packaging tells you. Did you know that companies who manufacture chemical cleaners are not obligated to list every item on the label? This means even if the packaging contains only a couple of “natural” ingredients, the solution itself could be made up of a lot more chemicals!
We buy cleaners out of convenience; we think the solution to quick cleaning lies in a bottle of “all-purpose cleaner” that smells like fresh daisies and kills 99% of germs. The institutional cleaning industry estimates that the US uses five billion pounds of chemicals each year for cleaning. Think about it: five billion pounds of chemicals are being used in just one year to clean hotels, offices, public transportation, and more! Most of these are enclosed spaces we spend a lot of time in on a daily basis. We can all-too-easily come into contact with residue cleaning chemicals even if we aren’t using it ourselves!
How can we ensure that we aren’t inhaling toxic fumes when cleaning in our own home? The answer may be simpler than you think.
We can either use more natural products such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon, or we can choose not to use anything at all! Effective cleaning isn’t always about how powerful your cleaner is; sometimes it lies in the tools you’re cleaning with.
"Cleaning Supplies and Your Health." EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Web. 7 Jan. 2016. <http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health>.
Gorman, Alexandra. "Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products." Women's Voices for the Earth. 1 July 2007. Web. 7 Jan. 2016. <http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/HazardsReport.pdf>.
"The Dirt on Toxic Chemicals in Household Cleaning Products." David Suzuki Foundation. Web. 7 Jan. 2016. <http://davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/the-dirt-on-toxic-chemicals-in-household-cleaning-products/>.
"Toxic and Priority Pollutants Under the Clean Water Act." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 7 Jan. 2016. <http://www.epa.gov/eg/toxic-and-priority-pollutants-under-clean-water-act>.