Avoiding harmful ingredients in your cleaning products can be hard. Finding a product that is effective and nontoxic, environmentally friendly, and made from natural ingredients can be difficult especially because manufacturers, developers and consumers alike are way more concerned about the ability of their products to clean than the actual effects they may have on our health.
Although a small amount of exposure to these toxic ingredients isn’t likely to be a problem, being exposed to them routinely and in combination can cause short-term and long-term risks on your health and environment. Here are some key ingredients you should definitely avoid in your cleaning products:
Found in: Polishers and glass cleaners.
Health Risks: While it is highly effective at leaving as streak-free shine, it comes at a price. Ammonia is a powerful irritant for human tissue. If you have lung or breathing problems, you may notice pain and discomfort immediately. Prolonged exposure to it can lead to chronic lung or respiratory issues.
Found in: Added to dish and laundry detergents to help reduce the formation of soap scum.
Health Risks: Although they are not considered harmful to human health, phosphates are harmful to our environment in a process called eutrophication, which is a decrease in the aquatic oxygen supply. This is a result of years worth of phosphates washing down peoples drains and accumulating in natural water sources and harming our ecosystem.
Found in: Synthetic fragrances in household products like air fresheners, dish soap and even toilet paper.
Health Risks: In the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to lung, behavioral, and hormonal and fertility issues. Although exposure to phthalates mainly occurs through inhalation, it can also happen through skin contact, which is a significant problem because the skin has no protection against toxins and the chemicals are absorbed by your skin tissue.
Found in: Concentrated in toilet bowl cleaners, laundry whiteners, and mildew removers.
Health Risks: Chlorine has so many avenues of exposure, it’s quite hard to control. You’re getting exposed through fumes and possibly through your skin when you clean with it. It can be a respiratory irritant and it may even be a serious thyroid disruptor.