Spring cleaning is on the to-do list of just about every household right now. But before you whip out the rubber gloves and bleach, you might want to read this post first.
You see, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), over 53% of the 2,000 cleaning products they examined were filled with ingredients known to harm human health.
Worse still, these common toxins have been linked to respiratory issues, reproductive problems, asthma, and even cancer.
And we’re not talking about industrial grade cleaning supplies found at construction sites. No, these are everyday household cleaning supplies you have under your kitchen sink right now.
In this blog post we’ll uncover these 9 hidden toxins, so you can remove them and select healthier options for you and your family.
Cleaning Product Toxin #1: Parabens
Parabens are the most common toxin in house cleaning supplies and even beauty products. This is because using parabens allows companies to label their cleaning products as “antifungal” or “antimicrobial.” Parabens are often listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
Why are parabens bad for your health? Well, they can cause hormone imbalances, which can lead to reproductive issues. They are also linked to several types of hormonal cancers, including breast cancer, uterine, and ovarian cancer.
Avoid anything labeled “antifungal” or “antimicrobial” and opt instead for all natural cleaning supplies such as Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, or Target’s Ever Spring collection.
Cleaning Product Toxin #2: Phthalates
Everyone loves house cleaning products that not only deep clean but leave a refreshing scent like lemons or oranges. But chances are that if you’re using scented cleaning products it has harmful toxins known as Phthalates.
Found in everything from laundry detergent to scented trash bags, scientists have linked phthalates to breast cancer, reproductive issues, and disruption of the endocrine system (which effects your mood, sleep, and metabolism).
Look for cleaning supplies labeled “scent-free” or “fragrance-free” and avoid air fragrances at all costs. If you must have a scent in your home, use a diffuser with aromatic, natural essential oils.
Cleaning Product Toxin #3: Triclosan
Hand sanitizers became a necessity in the wake of COVID. Unfortunately, many hand sanitizers employ the use of Triclosan. You can also find this toxin in antimicrobial cleaning supplies, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, mouthwash, and cosmetics.
Classified as a pesticide (yikes!), triclosan can contribute to the growth of drug resistant bacteria. And just like other toxins on this list, it also disrupts the endocrine system. Additionally, it’s known to cause skin and eye irritation.
For a healthier alternative, look for alcohol-based sanitizers and cleaners or simply use good ole fashioned hand soap.
Cleaning Product Toxin #4: Chlorine
The most well-known toxin on this least (and the easiest to pronounce), chlorine can be found in more than just your bleach or local swimming pool. You can find chlorine in many household disinfectants and even trace amounts in your tap water.
This is bad for your health because chlorine is a part of the halogen family and can wreak havoc on your thyroid. This can lead to everything from Hashimoto’s disease to hypothyroidism. Chlorine is also a respiratory irritant, and if mixed with ammonia, can be lethal.
So, how do you keep your whites, white, and get rid of mold/mildew for a deep clean without chlorine? Well, for laundry, try using vinegar. For scrubbing counters and the like, use baking soda. And, if you’re worried about those trace amounts of chlorine in your water, install a filter.
Cleaning Product Toxin #5: Ammonia
We just learned that if mixed with chlorine ammonia can be lethal, but is it harmful by itself? Well, seeing as ammonia is used to make other chemicals like cyanide, the answer is yes! It also lurks in harmless cleaning supplies like window cleaners, bathroom cleaners, and floor waxing products.
Health risks include coughing/wheezing, shortness of breath, laryngitis, fevers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and increased blood pressure to name a few.
To avoid ammonia, use one of the organic cleaners mentioned in toxin #1 or use a DIY cleaner. As strange as it may sound, Vodka is a great alternative to common window cleaners.
Cleaning Product Toxin #6: Dioxane
Dioxane is the oddball on this list, as you’ll not be able to find it by name in the ingredient list. This is because dioxane is created when other chemicals are mixed. So, how do you know if something has dioxane? Well, anything that creates suds has dioxane. Here’s a brief list of common offenders:
- Liquid soap
- Dish soap
The number one reason dioxane is bad for you is that it can easily penetrate the skin, which can lead to cancer. Using all natural cleaning supplies is the best way to avoid this sneaky toxin.
Cleaning Product Toxin #7: Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATS)
The sixth toxin on our list may have a funny sounding name, but it’s no laughing matter. Commonly referred to as QUATS, this toxin can cause severe skin burns (and other skin related issues) and respiratory problems. It also contributes to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
QUATS is sneaked into a lot of your favorite fabric softeners, as well as oven cleaners, drain clog removers, stove top cleaners, toilet cleaners, and cleaning wipes.
Safer alternatives for house cleaning and laundry include adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften your clothes and buying organic cleaning supplies.
Cleaning Product Toxin #8: Sodium Hydroxide
Better known by its more common name, lye, sodium hydroxide is extremely toxic due to its corrosive nature. Not only can it burn your eyes and skin, but it can also cause chronic throat problems.
Thankfully, it’s typically only found in oven cleaners and drain cleaners. So, instead of using common oven cleaning brands like Easy-Off, use baking soda. It’s strong enough to break down those tough grease stains for a deep clean.
Additionally, you can use baking soda and vinegar to unclog your drain. Here’s how: Pour a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the drain. Cover it with a drain stopper and let it sit there for 30 minutes. Then, uncover it and run hot water down the drain. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can use a plumber’s “snake” tool.
Cleaning Product Toxin #9: Perchloroethylene (PERC)
You’ll need two tongues to pronounce this final toxin, but its side-effects are easily spelled out. Used mainly in dry cleaning, you can also find PERC in aerosol products, spot-removers, and carpet cleaners.
Classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC), exposure to high levels of PERC can affect your central nervous system and even cause unconsciousness and death. More common side-effects of PERC include nausea, vomiting, severe shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, difficulty speaking and walking, and more. If you’re pregnant, long-term exposure can lead to fetal development issues.
If you dry clean your clothes, opt for a wet cleaner, which doesn’t use chemicals. Likewise, instead of cleaning your carpet, tile, or laminate floors with harsh chemicals, let the technicians here at PureTech clean your floors for you, taking that off your spring cleaning to-do list.
Our environmentally friendly cleaning solution doesn’t just clean your floors, it purifies them leaving zero residue, zero toxins, and zero odor.
Cleaning your home shouldn’t have to come at the expense of your health. Unfortunately, that’s impossible with most popular cleaning brands because of the hidden toxins listed above.
So, before you start spring cleaning, take stock of the cleaning products, beauty supplies, and personal hygiene items you currently use and switch them out for things that are green and toxin-free. This will keep you and your home clean in the truest sense of the word.