Is making sure your family (and the planet) is safe is important to you? If so, read on to find out what you need to know about the chemicals in household cleaners.
In this post I’ll share what those chemicals are, how they can be harmful to your family and the environment and how you can easily switch to safer options.
Why I Learned About Chemicals In Household Cleaners
A few years ago when I decided I wanted my family to start living greener, the most obvious thing to me to do was to start creating less trash. (Maybe because as a family of 5, plus pets, we were creating a TON of it!) Putting less in the trash (by recycling more) is tangible and a really easy way to see that you’re making a difference.
After being online in the green living world for a while I couldn’t help but notice all of the articles about chemicals in household cleaners and reducing toxins at home.
This hadn’t really occurred to me. Maybe because chemicals aren’t something you can actually see?!
This got me thinking that to live greener, not only did we need to focus on the things that we could see but also on the things we couldn’t see.
Both are extremely important to me so I got to work and did some research!
What I Learned About Chemicals In My Home
Turns out harmful chemicals and toxins are lurking everywhere. They can be in your plastic food storage containers, your pots and pans, your shower curtain, your cosmetics and your cleaning products – to name a few.
Well, that’s just a tiny bit overwhelming! Where the heck was I supposed to start? I couldn’t possibly conquer all of this at once!
Since I was overwhelmed by all of this I did what any mom of three young kids would do…I procrastinated! I put it off until I had the brain power to focus.
When I was ready, I decided to pick one area, get the whole scoop and then figure out how to easily make some changes that would work for my family and our lifestyle.
And the winner was…. the chemicals in household cleaners!
What Are the Chemicals in Household Cleaners?
First, an eye-opening fact is that, unlike manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products, companies that make cleaning products aren’t required to list the ingredients on the package, bottle or box.
This pretty much makes it almost impossible to determine what chemicals are in household cleaners that can be harmful to your family.
In any case, here is a list of the commonly used, harmful chemicals in household cleaners and examples of the type of cleaner you’ll find them lurking in:
- Phthalates – found in cleaners with a fragrance like air fresheners, detergents, carpet cleaner, laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc.
- Perchlorethylene (PERC) – found in dry cleaning solutions, spot removers, carpet & upholestery cleaners
- Triclosan – found in products labeled “antibacterial” like dishwashing detergents and hand soaps
- Quarternary Ammonium Compounds – found in many products labeled antibacterial as well as fabric softeners and dryer sheets
- 2-Butoxyethanol – found in window, kitchen and multi-purpose cleaners
- Sodium Hydroxide – found in oven cleaners and drain openers
- Ammonium Hydroxide – found in many bathroom cleaning products, polishers and glass cleaner
- Chlorine – found in many bathroom cleaners like toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners
What Are the Harmful Affects of Chemicals in Household Cleaners?
There is no doubt that many of the chemicals in household cleaners are harmful however it isn’t necessarily the small amounts of chemicals that may be in a cleaner. The dangers arise when you are exposed to the chemicals over and over, leading to a build up of toxins in the body.
It’s also unclear how dangerous some combinations of chemicals in household cleaners can be. There just isn’t much long-term research.
Some of the side effects of exposure to some of the chemicals in household cleaners include:
- Immediate symptoms like dizziness, headache, sleepiness, lightheadedness, nausea, skin irritation, respiratory irritation, severe eye damage
- Long term affects like decreased immune function, decrease thyroid hormone levels or altered endocrine function, mood, memory, attention, reaction time and vision problems
- Environmental affects include a build up of chemicals that can’t be removed through the water treatment process causing an imbalance in water conditions causing negative effects for both vegatation and wildlife
I am typically not an alarmist and I don’t usually freak out and take drastic measures. However, after reading about all of the potential side effects – that CAN be avoided – I was motivated to make some changes.
Where To Find More Information
The info above is just a tiny slice of the information on the web about chemicals in household cleaners and their effects on your family and the environment.
If you’re someone that likes to know all the details before you make changes, I’ve got you covered!
Here are a few good resources I’ve found that provide more details (and some research) about the chemicals and harmful effects above.
How To Easily Switch To Safer Cleaners
The good thing about all of this scary news is that there are tons of other choices when it comes to what you clean your home with.
You don’t have to use cleaners containing harmful chemicals.
One option is to make all of your own cleaners at home. There are tons of “recipes” online, especially on Pinterest.
Yes, I am a SAHM who, in theory, should have time to make homemade cleaners. However, in reality, I just can’t make it happen.
I’ve tried and just ended up stressing myself out. So, I’ve accepted that I’m just not the homemade cleaner kind of gal. So, I set out to find some safe, store bought choices – ‘cause I can do that! 🙂
I did a bunch of searching and decided that I was comfortable with the Environmental Working Group and the research they’ve conducted.
They have put together a database of over 2,500 cleaning products, each with a safety rating from A to F.
I think it’s a great resource and trust their research. It’s what I use when I want to find cleaners that are safe for my family to use.
What the guide, understandably, doesn’t include is information about where you can buy the products listed in the database.
That info is kind of important, right?!
Who wants to go searching for a safe product every time you run out and need to stock up? Not me!!
I decided to put the time in and use the EWG database to create a handy, go-to list of safe products that covered all of my cleaning needs (i.e. kitchen, laundry, bathroom, etc.). I also researched the stores I typically shop at (including Amazon) that carried these safer options.
Now when I need to stock up on cleaning products I can grab them on my regular run to Target or Walmart or even my local grocery store. Or just add them on to my (many) Amazon Prime orders!
I can just whip out my handy list and know exactly which cleaner to choose and know it’s safe for my family!
And it can be that easy for you too! Sign up below to get your copy of the Quick Guide to Safe Kitchen Cleaners NOW!