cleaning products

Why Your Cleaning Products May Be Doing More Harm than Good
January 13th, 2018

In order to stop the spread of illnesses, it’s important to keep your home clean and tidy. You probably use dozens of separate cleaning products throughout your home, but have you ever thought about what the cleaning products are actually doing to the people who use them– and spend time in the places where they are used?

Many products, including products that millions of people use every single day, are currently being marketed as safe for humans and animals to use and be around. However, many of them have been known to contribute to long-term negative health effects due to their ingredients. And if these products come in a spray bottle or aerosol form, you will almost certainly breath in a long list of chemicals when using them. Those chemicals linger and affect others who enter the area.

What Makes the Cleaning and Household Products Harmful?

According to The American Lung Association many common household cleaning products can cause harm to your eyes, throat, and lungs. Some of the products include volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, which can be extremely harmful to your health. While the term “volatile organic compound” certainly sounds poisonous, these compounds are often hidden inside otherwise friendly sounding brand names or product descriptions. Unfortunately, that “Ocean Mist” or “Wildflower Wind” scented cleaner in your cupboard may be chock full of VOCs.

In fact, even natural fragrances such as citrus can produce airborne pollutants. Organic Consumers reports that the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are harmful and dangerous to human health.

When VOCs and other chemicals are released into the air and inhaled or ingested by humans and animals, they may suffer from headaches, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems. Products that include VOCs and other dangerous chemicals include air fresheners, oven cleaners, rug and upholstery cleaners, chlorine bleach, and aerosol spray products.

Why You Should Always Read the Fine Print

It’s not usual for a consumer to think that a product that’s available for sale on the local grocery store shelf is safe to use, without taking any precautions. But that is just not true. If you read the label, you will often see usage instructions full of warnings and precautions. For example, it is extremely important that you avoid mixing bleach or bleach-containing products with anything that contains ammonia. The mixture of these two things can be extremely harmful, and the gas produced can be fatal. Always make sure that you read the label before using any cleaning product.

When reading the labels, make sure you note if the product is safe to be used indoors or if it has to be strictly used outside. Some products, even those that include natural fragrances, can negatively react with high levels of ozone. Even though it’s invisible, ozone in such high levels is extremely harmful and can worsen asthma and other lung diseases. Coming in contact with the wrong mixture of products and ozone can also be fatal.

According to Dr. Richard Schwartz M.D., past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should always check the labels on household cleaners and avoid products that say they’re toxic, since they may contain risky solvents. For example, oven cleaners and window cleaners often contain glycol ethers, which have been known to increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage, and most mildew removers contain phenols, which may increase risk of birth defects or fetal death.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

You can make your own safe and effective cleaning products at home that are free from noxious substances. By mixing vinegar and water together, you can clean glass and other surfaces. By mixing warm water and soap, you can make a simple and eco-friendly cleaning product that typically does the trick.

As of late, more and more natural and chemical-free cleaning and household products have made their way into the market. Keep in mind that just because a cleaning product says that it is “green,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t contain dangerous ingredients. A recent study found that 100 percent of goods labeled “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” or certified as green gave off at least one potentially toxic chemical. Remember that when you’re using any cleaning or household product, it’s important to always read the label and properly ventilate the area in which it is being used.


Keeping your home clean is important for your health, but there’s no reason to put your health at risk simply to clean your home.


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