Most households have an array of cleaning supplies under the sinks or in the laundry rooms. Ranging from multipurpose sprays and air fresheners to laundry detergent and dryer sheets. We want our home to be clean and smell good, right? Between pets, kids, and now a pandemic—cleanliness has taken up a spot at the forefront of our minds. But what you may not be looking at is the kind of chemicals being used to clean your homes.
There are several chemicals found in common household cleaners and sprays that pose a serious risk to our health. From asthma and chemical burns to cancer and fertility issues, the effects of toxins found in cleaning supplies run the gambit. So what should you be looking for when purchasing your cleaning products? And what should you avoid?
There is a massive list of harmful chemicals, to humans and pets alike. But we’ll cover the most common ones and the impacts of using them, and which product they’re typically found in.
- Perchloroethylene (PERC) – Perchloroethylene is a chemical that is found in fabric cleaners and spot removers for carpets and upholstery. When inhaled consistently over time, the chemical can cause serious health issues, since PERC is a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin.
- Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is commonly found in heavy-duty cleaners, and has been connected with nervous system damage like ALS. It can also impact the chemical balance of the brain, leading to depression, mood swings, heachaches, irritability, and ADD.
- 2-Butoxyethanol – 2-Butoxyethanol is commonly found in multi-purpose cleaners and window sprays. It gives off a sweet and floral sent, and is a glycol ether solvent that assists in breaking down dirt and oil. Exposure over time to this chemical has been known to cause liver and kidney damage, narcosis, and even pulmonary edema.
- Ammonia – Ammonia is the chemical found in polishers and glass cleaners because of its ability to leave a streak-free shine. But ammonia also causes irritation to human tissue, which with long-term use can cause permanent damage to the mucous membranes and cardiovascular system.
- Sodium Hydroxide – Sodium Hydroxide is commonly used in oven cleaners, clog removers and drain cleaners. The reason it’s used in heavy-duty cleaners is because of its ability to dissolve hardened materials like food and hair. Exposure on the skin or inhalation can cause a burning sensation on the skin or in the throat.
- Chlorine – Chlorine is the chemical used in cleaning pool water and is found in products like laundry whiteners, scouring powder, toilet bowl cleaners, and mildew removers. Exposure can lead to disrupted thyroid function, chronic dryness, and irritated skin.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – VOCs are defined as gases found both indoor and outdoor air that are emitted from products or processes. Some of the most common VOCs include benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene. They are found in building materials, diesel and industrial emissions, arts and crafts products like glue and permanent markers, and of course, home and personal care products. These compounds can irritate eyes, nose, and throat, and can even damage organs and the central nervous system. For more information, you can visit the American Lung Association’s website.
Unfortunately, this issue can’t be resolved just by purchasing cleaning products that claim to be eco-friendly, or natural. Dangerous chemicals can be found in these solutions just as they can be found in any other cleaners. You should either make your own cleaners, or thoroughly research products before purchasing them. The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit organization that researches and scores household products. It also offers verified products, which means those products met EWG’s strict standards for health and transparency. You can check out their website here.
As always, keep your cleaning products out of reach of children and pets. If you need an extra hand with your cleaning duties, give Kathleen’s Cleaning Service a call! The girls in green use eco-friendly cleaners with microfiber towels, minimizing the environmental impact of toxic cleaners and paper towels. We strive for the highest quality clean and 100% customer satisfaction. Reach out to schedule your clean today!