With the scare of COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, we spend more hours now than ever before cleaning and sanitizing our homes. We do this to help keep our loved ones healthy and safe from the spread of all types of bacteria, germs, and illnesses. But are the ingredients you use every day in cleaning products safe for the people and pets in your home?
There is a variety of cleaning supplies you should try to avoid at all costs. Some of these include bleach and ammonia-based cleaners, cleaners with VOC additives, and cleaners containing artificial fragrances.
The cleaning products that you may be using every single day can be dangerous. Because these products contain hazardous and chemicals you should never ingest or even inhale, you could be creating severe health risks for everyone that comes into your house without even knowing it.
Dangerous Cleaning Product Ingredients
To kill bacteria or tackle tough stains, some companies choose to use chemicals to get the job done, although many of them are not safe for us to use.
When heading to the store to grab your cleaning supplies, make sure you check the labels for the following ingredients before making any purchases, as they are considered the most dangerous:
Ammonia has been used for many years in household cleaning products. It is usually reserved for tougher products but sold daily just the same. This chemical is hazardous to inhale or digest and can cause some severe health problems if done so:
Dangers of Ammonia
|When Exposed to the Eyes and Skin|
Just like ammonia, this dangerous chemical has been around for many years. Used to wash everything from baby items to white clothes, this substance is found more often around the home than ammonia; however, it is just as dangerous. It would be best if you refrained from using this product as much as possible.
Dangers of Bleach
|When Exposed to the Eyes and Skin|
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
You may be familiar with a few of these chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, formaldehyde, and propylene. Because these substances can be found in so many products, you may not be able to steer clear away from them altogether. So, be sure to use safety measures such as wearing gloves and face masks every time you use them; otherwise, you face some extreme health risks.
Dangers of VOCs
|When Exposed to the Eyes and Skin|
Note: More severe symptoms are usually only caused if substantial amounts of VOCs are inhaled or ingested. Otherwise, the leading health problems associated with cleaners or similar products with VOCs are less severe, such as headaches and eye and throat irritation.
Cleaning Products You Should Avoid
When you are standing in your local store’s cleaning supplies section, there are some products you may want to avoid. These specific cleaning products are known to contain dangerous and harmful chemicals:
- Air fresheners: Air fresheners are a quick and easy way to hide odor and create a fresh, clean smell in your home and car; however, they are known to contain hazardous chemicals that can aggravate those with asthma and allergies and wreak havoc on your respiratory system.
- Bleach cleaners: Chlorine bleach is used to kill germs in the pool and on your counters; however, these cleaners are toxic and very dangerous to your health.
- Oven cleaners: Oven cleaners often contain the dangerous chemical sodium hydroxide, which is harmful if inhaled or ingested.
- Laundry detergent and dish soaps: Most soaps these days are composed of sodium hydroxide, which is extremely dangerous to ingest.
- Fabric softeners: Fabric softeners contain a plethora of VOCs that are not only dangerous when exposed to the skin but can leave toxins on your clothes.
Long-Term Effects of Harmful Cleaning Products
Although most household cleaning items are seemingly harmless when you use them, studies have shown there are long-term effects that can be pretty serious. If you have been diagnosed with any of these illnesses, you may consider these cleaning products as one of their contributing factors.
Studies have shown that long-term exposure to cleaning products increases your chances of developing asthma; this is due to the damage caused to the lungs from inhaling these toxins often.
Asthma can range in severity and can be a life-altering disease and even cause death. Some common signs and symptoms of asthma include:
- Cough: mild to severe cough that increases with activity or at night
- Respiratory problems: this includes wheezing, shortness of breath, unable to breathe, frequent respiratory infections, and rapid breathing
- Chest pressure: this can be due to anxiety or inflammation
- Throat pain
Most asthma flare-ups can be controlled with medications like albuterol inhalers but can result in emergency complications in more severe cases.
Your kidneys are very sensitive organs and can be compromised if toxins enter your bloodstream. These chemicals are related to kidney damage and poor kidney function.
Your kidneys are vital tools that filter toxins from your blood, so they can’t reach other organs. If you are in constant contact with cleaners, your kidneys will have to work overtime, and this can lead to severe damage.
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, especially if you worked at a company that used chemicals for hours a day, you should seek medical attention:
- Extreme exhaustion or trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Dry, itchy skin
- Urinating often
- Bloody urine
- Foamy urine
- Swollen, puffy eyes
- Muscle cramping
- Poor appetite
Kidney disease affects millions of people; however, only around 10% of people know they have it. Most people are only aware they are suffering from kidney problems after it’s too late, and the kidneys are suffering from the late stages of a condition, including kidney failure.
Studies seem to reveal that many cleaning products on the market today contain chemicals known to cause breast cancer. These carcinogens are dangerous and can even result in death. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your physician as soon as possible to schedule an exam:
- Lump in breast
- Swollen breast
- Changes of shape in nipple or breast
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
- Breast discomfort
- Inverted nipple
- Swollen lymph node
It is important to note that many breast cancer patients notice no signs or symptoms; doing self-checks and making regular doctor appointments are the only way to keep yourself protected.
Liver Disease (Hepatotoxicity)
Your liver’s job is to metabolize the drugs and chemicals that enter the body; this makes them highly susceptible to dangerous toxins used while cleaning your home. If exposed for long periods to a high volume of these toxins, your liver can be seriously damaged, which can lead to a whole slew of complications. Watch for these signs and symptoms of liver disease:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and/or skin)
- Abdominal swelling and discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling in ankles and legs
- Chronic fatigue
- Easily bruises
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine
Liver disease can be treated, and some conditions can be cured. However, if left untreated, liver disease can be life-threatening.
Alternative Products to Replace Toxic Cleaners
You can avoid many health conditions if you do away with as many chemically designed products as possible. You can start by stocking your cupboards and cabinets with natural ingredients that are easy to find and much healthier to use.
Below are only a few of the natural ingredients that you’ll find will have excellent cleaning properties. You can use each of these products on their own to create an everyday cleaning agent or use a combination of them to create a powerful paste, spray, or powder that will clean your house top to bottom. At the same time, you can have peace of mind that your entire family is safe from these substances.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has become a staple in many people’s homes; it is used for acid reflux relief, cleaning solutions, and even weight loss aid. It is a natural product that is derived from fermented apples. The result is known to have antibacterial tendencies to keep your home clean and free from bacteria.
So, how do you make an apple cider vinegar-based cleaner? The most basic recipe simply mixes 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water. Adding this to a spray bottle makes for an easy and safe cleaning agent for your countertops and appliances. Additionally, using the solution in a bucket will replace your toxic floor solutions while still keeping them nice and clean.
Tea Tree Oil
If you have any experience with essential oils, you know how many benefits come from tea tree oils. This natural disinfectant is a safe and effective cleaning agent that uses all four of the key ANTIs in cleaning (antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic). Using this product mixed with water alone or with other natural ingredients will create a natural cleaning solution that you won’t have to think twice about.
Most essential oils can have a harsh skin reaction when handling alone, so always dilute your oils with another source before using, like water, vitamin E or baby oil, or apple cider vinegar.
The best way to mix tea tree oil to create a safe cleaner for your home is by adding 5-6 drops of oil into a spray bottle full of warm water. Shake it up, and it is ready to go. Spray down your sinks or windows for an organic clean.
You can use white vinegar to clean your home as well. This is a product most people keep in their kitchen pantry already. It can clear away caked-on gunk from your sinks or leave your windows clear and streak-free. It is known to kill most household bacteria without the harsh fumes or chemical makeup of other household cleaners.
Create a powerful cleaning solution by mixing ½ parts white vinegar to ½ parts water. Use it to spray inside your microwave to clean built-up messes.
This oldy but goodie has been around for generations. Grandmas everywhere will stand by this cleaning solution. Baking soda can cut through the toughest grease and grime built up just about anywhere in your home. Mixing this product with warm water can clean a load of laundry or clear a slow drain. People have also replaced their toothpaste with this!
To clear your drains, simply pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, then dump a large pot of boiling water into it. To get a better clean, before adding the water, pour a cup of vinegar down the drain; this will cause a foaming reaction that catches and frees up hair and gunk stuck inside.
People use hydrogen peroxide to clean out their refrigerators as well as their cuts these days. Hydrogen peroxide is generally known as a first aid product due to its antibacterial properties, killing all the bacteria in a wound that can create infections. However, these properties are also great for cleaning the home.
For the most part, there is no need to mix this solution with any other compound. It is safe for you to handle on its own and has no real odor or color to create any issues. You can also add a spry nozzle directly to the bottle and squirt freely around your fridge to safely remove spilled food or mildew build up.
Lemons (and Other Citrus Fruits)
Lemons have been used for a wide range of cleaning uses. Some swear by letting the juices from a lemon soak on white stained sheets or clothing to cleaning the stains and leave your clothes smelling amazing.
The natural acid found in citrus fruits like lemons has been said to offer a fantastic degreasing effect and can be a great glass cleaner. Lemon acid will also kill some bacteria found in the home, leaving behind a citrusy scent.
A natural clean-smelling concoction you can use in everyday cleaning with lemons will combine one part lemon juice with two parts hot water. Putting this in a spray bottle will give you easy access to a quick countertop wipe down or a spritz of a natural air freshener.
Final Things to Consider About Cleaning Products
Although natural cleaning solutions will be much better for your health, it may not necessarily be the best option available for cleaning. None of the natural items we’ve listed above will kill the harmful bacteria around your home as the chemical toxin-based alternative will.
It’s also worth noting that limited use of chemical cleaning products and materials may not be that harmful to your health—as long as they’re used properly. With that said, if you do decide to stick with chemical-based cleaners, always wear gloves, masks, and eye protection as needed to ensure you reduce your exposure to the product.
Finally, if you think you have ingested or inhaled a large number of chemicals, call your poison control center right away. If you are experiencing severe medical issues such as difficulty breathing, seizures, unconsciousness, or vomiting, seek emergency help immediately by calling 911 or getting to the nearest emergency room.
Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our family. With that said, if you want to keep the members of your home safe, it’s highly recommended that you opt for natural cleaning alternatives when you can and use bacteria-killing chemical cleaners sparingly and with the protection of gloves, face masks, and/or goggles.