A clean house is essential for the health and well-being of you and your family. Today, however, the cleaning products that should clean while protecting your health are putting you at risk from chemicals they contain. When certain chemicals come in contact with your skin, they can be absorbed by your body and can cause health issues including hormonal changes. Even if your skin doesn’t come into direct contact with a toxic cleaning product, the fumes alone can be highly corrosive and cause eye and respiratory damage.
How Household Cleaning Products Can Affect Your Health
Most of us have a wide array of household cleaners that we use on a regular basis to clean our homes. Here’s how some of these products may be negatively affecting your health.
1. Floor Cleaners
Phthalates are generally used in the manufacture of plastics to increase their flexibility, but they can also be found in dish soap, air fresheners, floor cleaners, and other cleaning products to keep the scents lingering. There is no way to know if your floor cleaner contains phthalates, as these chemicals are used in the fragrances of these products and companies, are not required by law to disclose the chemicals contained in their fragrances. It is safe to assume that the majority of cleaners that tout the word ‘fragrance’ on their ingredient label do, indeed, contain phthalates. Exposure to phthalates can occur through inhalation or skin contact. Some phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormonal havoc such as affect human reproduction and development and have even been linked to cancer. Instead of using a toxic floor cleaner, use this ultimate guide to floor cleaning to keep your floors sparkling clean without posing a risk to your health.
2. Carpet Cleaners
Carpet cleaning products and spot removers often contain a chemical called perchloroethylene (which is also used in dry cleaning). Perchloroethylene, or Perc, has been linked to kidney damage. The EPA considers it ‘likely to be carcinogenic to humans.’ Exposure to this chemical can cause fatigue, dizziness, and nausea if inhaled. Most carpet cleaning products also contain other chemicals such as naphthalene which can damage the nervous system when inhaled in large amounts. Instead of using hazardous carpet cleaning solutions, use this nontoxic recipe to clean carpet stains.
3. Oven Cleaners
Oven cleaners are used to break down food that has stuck to the inside of your oven. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 12 oven cleaners and found that 3 out of the 12 posed a ‘likely hazard to health or environment’ while the remaining 9 posed ‘potentially significant hazards to health or environment’. The main ingredient in oven cleaners is sodium hydroxide (lye); an extremely corrosive chemical. Breathing in sodium hydroxide mist or dust has mild to serious impacts (depending on the exposure). In mild cases, effects can include sneezing or a runny nose but greater exposure can lead to severe lung inflammation. Instead, make a DIY paste of baking soda and natural dish soap as a non-toxic alternative to regular oven cleaning solutions.
4. Antibacterial Soaps and Cleaners
In September 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of triclosan – a common antibacterial ingredient frequently used in antibacterial soaps and body washes. Some of the possible health risks associated with antibacterial cleaning solutions include hormonal changes and lowered resistance to bacteria. However, many popular cleaning brands began to substitute not-so-healthy alternatives although many of these replacement chemicals are suspected to cause more harm than good over time. Instead of using antibacterial cleaning solutions, try a non-toxic, eco-friendly recipe alternative.
5. Toilet Bowl Cleaners
There’s no denying that toilet bowl cleaners can obliterate even the most stubborn stains. Unfortunately, the key ingredient in most toilet bowl cleaners is hydrogen chloride which gives off a corrosive vapor. Inhalation is one of the most common causes of hydrogen chloride exposure and it can cause respiratory problems such as shortness of breath and coughing. Other symptoms of breathing in a solution of hydrochloric acid include dizziness, rapid pulse, and low blood pressure. While many toilet bowl cleaners contain less than 10 percent hydrochloric acid, there are several that contain up to 50 percent hydrochloric acid. Alternatively, mix equal amounts of vinegar and baking soda and use this paste to cut through hard water stains and leave your toilet bowl squeaky clean.
6. Glass Cleaners
Spraying glass windows or mirrors and simply wiping them clean without too much elbow grease is ideal. However, this convenience often comes at a hefty price to your health. Most glass cleaners contain between 5-10 perfect ammonia which helps break down grime and oil stains. Ammonia is highly corrosive and lower concentrations can cause and nose and throat irritation. Exposure to higher concentrations of ammonia can cause serious respiratory problems including bronchiolar and alveolar edema. If you use glass cleaner in a confined space such as a bathroom, you are more likely to experience respiratory problems due to exposure to this chemical and mixing ammonia with chlorine can form a deadly gas called chloramine gas.
There are numerous green household glass cleaners on the market today, or you can try diluted white distilled vinegar to clean your windows and get a healthy and affordable streak-free shine.
The chemicals in household cleaners can damage your airways and even increase your risk of serious respiratory infections. Most people think that switching to green products is expensive, but a toxic-free life is affordable and accessible to all. There loads of affordable and easy organic recipes to help you clean your home safely while eliminating unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals to you and your loved ones.