The Dirty Facts on Traditional Cleaning Products

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Many studies have been conducted to shed light on the effects of traditional cleaning products in a home or office. One study conducted by a team of 15 researchers at the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development center concluded that the use of disinfectants in a home can cause children to become obese later in life. Another study, conducted by a team of European researchers, concluded that the effects from cleaning your home once a week on your lungs are equivalent to smoking every day for 10 to 20 years. Unfortunately, the air quality in homes that use these toxic chemicals is five times more toxic than outdoor pollution. Those chemicals can remain in home dust for years that people inhale or ingest. Over the years, studies have shown that exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals causes cancer, asthma, kidney disorders, depression, immune system disorders, obesity, birth defects, and more.

How is this possible?

You might be asking yourself why these manufacturers are allowed to place harmful cleaning chemicals on the market. The truth is, there is little to no regulation requiring companies to disclose their product ingredients due to patent rights. This means that they can put in nearly any chemical they want in their product without the fear of retribution as long as they place a warning label on their packaging. Even more disturbing is that many of these products have not been sufficiently tested on humans to realize the full health effects and dangers.

What's in them?

There's a long list of dangerous chemicals in cleaning products, many of which are listed on the EPA's Right-to-Know list, along with other organizations such as OSHA. While there are many more, below is a short list of some common chemicals in everyday cleaning products.

So what can you do?

You don't have to be powerless in this issue. There are several things you can do to fight against allowing this outrage to continue.

Write to Your Legislature

If you're the proactive, Type-A personality, it's never a bad thing to take this to your legislature. States and companies are starting to listen, and some have even passed laws requiring manufacturers to list ingredients on their packaging.

States such as California and Washington, retailers such as Walmart, and manufacturers such as Proctor & Gamble are now pushing for reform to provide transparency into ingredients contained in household products.

You Can Buy Eco-friendly Products

When buying your own products, it's important to be aware of the issues and educate yourself on how labels work. Some companies claim a product to be eco-friendly by placing a label on the packaging that tricks the consumer into believing it to be true. This tactic is called "greenwashing," and consumers can identify it by simply checking the ingredients themselves.

What if You Don't Know What to Look For?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit committed to information related to the environment, has a fantastic resource for consumer cleaning products. They investigated over 2,000 consumer cleaning products and rated them according to their toxicity. You can search their website for your favorite cleaning products to find out how eco-friendly they are.

This website does not cover commercial cleaning products. But two organizations, Green Seal and Ecologo, carefully vet commercial products. Products with either seal are safe and toxic-free.

Best Course of Action

Take the weight off your shoulders. There's a lot to understand about chemicals, their data sheets, their safety specifications, and their proper usage. Allowing a professional green cleaning company to alleviate this burden will help to ease your mind and ensure you are safe, helping the environment, and have a properly cleaned home or office.

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