The household cleaners industry has a dirty secret. Most products – even the ones with a “green” image – contain numerous harmful chemicals. When it comes to household cleaners, there is virtually no regulation. Brands can claim their products are “natural” or even “organic” and there is no governmental organization certifying such declarations. Your dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, and window cleaner etc. may help you make your home appear clean to the eye, but this comes at a cost (here’s a list of chemicals to avoid). Your health will be severely compromised when you expose yourself to the dangerous ingredients in household cleaners. Ingredients used by manufacturers may lead to hormone disruptions, respiratory issues and even cancer. Here are some of the most harmful ingredients to watch out for in the store when purchasing such items for your home.
Phthalates are probably the best known endocrine disruptors. They have been one of the major culprits in men’s infertility or at least a diminishing sperm count among men according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health. Exposure to phthalates can take place through skin contact with scented soaps. The issue of phthalates entering your body through your skin is that unlike your digestive system, the skin has no protective powers against toxins. Any chemicals that get absorbed by your skin immediately end up in your blood stream from where they make their way throughout your entire body.
This toxin is found in many kitchen, all-purpose, and window cleaners. One of the big issues with 2-butoxyethanol is that the lack of laws that require manufacturers to list this chemical among their ingredients. This means you don’t even know if you’re currently using a window cleaner that includes this ingredient. The Environmental Protection Agency has pointed out a number of health threats related to 2-butoxyethanol:
- causes sore throats when inhaled,
- contributes to narcosis,
- leads to pulmonary edema,
- causes severe liver and kidney damage.
The EPA also issue a warning about using 2-butoxyethanol indoors. If products containing this chemical are applied in areas without open windows, air levels of 2-butoxyethanol beyond workplace safety standards are reached.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is probably the most common ingredient in dish soap. This is a chemical surfactant that is used to cut through dirt and grease by creating more foam that is needed to do your dishes. When producing SLS a toxic by-product called 1,4-dioxane is produced. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency this chemical is a human carcinogen. Never use products that contain SLS. Better get used to naturally foaming soaps instead of overwhelmingly bubbly chemical products.
These are some to the most harmful ingredients to avoid. Natural products are generally a safer choice for you and your family, but make sure you read and fully understand the ingredients before purchasing a products. Greenwashing is wide-spread and manufacturers of “green” products can be just as deceptive as producers of conventional products.