The products you use to refresh and clean the house can actually have a dangerous effect on your health, through inhaling or skin contact. And since the skin provides a direct link to blood, anything absorbed through your skin can easily make its way to your blood. Even worse, household products go further in our waterways and pose great risk to marine life.
Your enthusiasm about clean surfaces, tidy counters, shiny mirrors and anti-bacterial products is amazing, but you should be aware about what kind of products you’re using, what are they made of and how safe they really are.
1. Main toxic ingredients to avoid
Have you ever noticed ‘fragrance’ or ‘dye’ on the ingredients list of your product ? The manufacturers in the United States and Canada are not required to expose all ingredients of their products, which means there is no way to really know what that ‘fragrance’ or ‘dye’ actually is.
This chemical is what you commonly find in bleach products, it is highly toxic and can cause eye irritation, skin burns, aggravate asthma and promote respiratory issues. In case it’s mixed or came in contact with a cleaner containing acid, it creates the toxic chlorine gas.
found in anti-bacterial personal products and also used as an anti-bacterial in dish-washing liquid and laundry detergents. It is associated with microbial resistance and can wreck your hormones.
This single term can be any of the over 3000 chemicals that may or may not be safe, and it’s linked to allergies. It is recommended to avoid products with this ingredient, unless it was mentioned what the fragrance exactly is.
Quaternary ammonium compounds
are used as disinfectants in fabric softeners and detergents. These compounds can be highly toxic when concentrated, and are linked to redness, irritation and severe burns. Many types can be listed on the label, such as – Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) or Benzalkonium chloride- Stearalkonium chloride- Quaternium 1-29- Cetrimonium bromide
are used as antimicrobial and can be found under various names. Usually used in cosmetics, but can also be added to cleaning products. They have a negative impact on your immune system and may lead to respiratory and skin irritation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.
2. A Tiny Lesson in Chemistry
Some ingredients can be safe on their own, but when combined with others can become toxic. For instance, you must never mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar or any other acids, as these mixtures can create toxic and deadly gases. Not every one is a chemist, so if you have any doubts or if reading labels is not your thing, then you should take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s fantastic Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
This guide should be useful to decode the labels and identify the safest cleaning products to use. Now that you know what you should avoid, we have here many great options to keep your home clean and toxic-free (or at least lessen that exposure). Vinegar is one toxic free option, but we understand that you don’t want your house to smell like a fish.
3. Top 8 Cleaning Brands to Consider
Although they’re owned by Clorox (a brand to avoid), they refrain from using some of the harmful ingredients listed on previous pages, so that’s why they made it on this list. However, they still sneak fragrance into their labels and could make more efforts into being green.
They’ve done great work with their laundry, dishwasher and oxygen bleach, and are able to improve their glass and all-purpose cleaners’ formulations that are still risky for both humans and environment. However, they’re still using the terms cleaning agents and fragrance.
This brand is most known for being environmentally friendly. Although their laundry detergents contain some toxic preservatives, they are a much better option and have done excellent work with their cream scrub, zero dish soap, non-chlorine bleach, bathroom cleaner and all-purpose cleaner.
This brand can definitely make you think that they are extremely clean, besides their packaging and colors are very appealing. Many of their products are a lot safer than others. Although they still use some irritation-related ingredients, they claimed on their website that the fragrance is free of many dirty ingredients and carcinogens, and is tested for skin allergies and irritation.
Their almost perfect attitude and other products are generally great and score high in the world of harmless cleaning products.
Green Shield Organic
This brand is another excellent alternative. They are organic and their Toilet Bowl Cleaner is regarded as the best one, as it scored an A.
This brand doesn’t have too many products (do we actually need so many ?), and all of their products have scored a perfect A. They are vegan, cruelty-free and certified by EcoCert.
This EcoLogo certified brand has their products scented with essential oils. They use aloe vera extract in their dish wash detergent for soft hands, their lavender laundry is just too wonderful, and most of all they are environmentally friendly.
4. 12 Brands to Avoid
Generally, all the brands mentioned below have low scores on EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, even though some of their products may be a little bit less toxic than others. Since you now have many alternatives, why not avoid them !
- Airwick Air Freshener
- Arm & Hammer (except for their baking soda products)
- Mr. Clean