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Poisons of Cleaning Agents in Your Home

Updated on July 23, 2014

Danger. Poison

Be wary of what is placed into the atmosphere of your home.
Be wary of what is placed into the atmosphere of your home. | Source

Releasing Chemicals into Your Home

As stay-at-home mom, your time is extremely limited. You have been wanting to get to the tub and shower for a while now, and it is beginning to take on a yellow hue; not the cream color you prefer.

When you go to your locked cupboard you take out your favorite tub and shower cleaner and start to spray. The label on the bottle states to wear glove and ensure there is a well ventilated area. Is a bathroom a well ventilated area? Well, it has a fan, vent, and heater. Is there a window?

When you start choking, and coughing, you realize the chemicals are getting to you. Do you stop? Nah, most of us don't; we brave it on and damn the consequences. We rationalize stating, "... it isn't like you do this everyday.); but here is some things you should know.

According to Beth Greer, Author of Super Natural Home (Rodale Books, 2009), while doing research for her book, she learned, "...there’s no federal regulation of chemicals in household products" (Scholl, 2011). In fact, Rebecca Sutton, PHD, scientist for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), states, "In terms of household cleaners, neither ingredients nor products must meet any sort of safety standard, nor is any testing data or notification required before bringing a product to market" (Scholl, 2011).

Eight Chemicals Everyone Should Be Aware Of:

1. Phthalates. This chemical is usually found in fragrances within your household products, like air fresheners, and is known medically to affect endocrine. "Men with higher phthalate compounds in their blood had correspondingly reduced sperm counts, according to a 2003 study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health" (Scholl, 2011). The alternative is to use fragrance free and organic products. Greer recommends using essential oils.

2. Perchloroethylene (PERC) This is found in dry-cleaning solutions, and spot removers. The EPA fact sheet in 2012, the following statement was made, "Long-term exposure to perc can also pose a potential human health hazard to reproduction and development, and to the kidney, liver, immune and hematologic systems" (EPA, 2012). In addition, it should also be noted that it is not believed that wearing dry cleaned clothing poses enough of a risk to cause concern. Some short term symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and various areas of irritation (EPA, 2012).

An alternative to dry-cleaning, would be to take your articles to a wet cleaner, "...who uses water-based technology rather than chemical solvents" (Scholl, 2011).

3. Triclosan is used liquid dish washing detergents and antibacterial hand soaps. This substance can actually promote growth for drug-resistant bacteria (Scholl, 2011). It is better to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer without triclosan.

4. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, or "QUATS" found in fabric softeners and antibacterial cleaners. There are different types, and pose the same problems as triclosan. QUATS are also a skin irritant, and has been linked to development of asthma if exposed on a regular basis.

As an alternative, Karyn Siegel-Maier recommends in her book, The Naturally Clean Home (Storey Publishing, 2008), "Vinegar is the natural fabric softener of choice for many reasons...Not only is it nontoxic, it also removes soap residue in the rinse cycle and helps to prevent static cling in the dryer." White vinegar is best.

5. Window, and multipurpose cleaners often use 2-Butoxyethanol. It can cause sore throats, and can also be linked to narcosis, pulmonary edema, as well as liver and kidney damage (Scholl, 2011).

Instead, use newspaper and diluted vinegar for your windows. In order to tackle the various other kitchen tasks, you can use Bon Ami Powder.

6. Ammonia is commonly in used in polishing agents for things like jewelry, and bathroom fixtures. Its also used as a window cleaner because it doesn't streak. It will cause things like bronchitis, and asthma. It is also very dangerous if mixed with bleach.

Toothpaste is a great silver polish, and Vodka does wonders on any metal or mirrors.

7. Scouring powders, toilet cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, and even tap water has chlorine. At an acute level, it's a respiratory irritant, but it can be chronic as well.

Baking soda does great as a scouring powder, and toilet bowl can be cleaned with vinegar. Installing a water filter helps if it is in your tap water.

8. Last but not least, is Sodum Hydroxide; otherwise known as lye. It is extremely corosive, and can cause terrible burns if it gets on your skin or in your eyes. If you inhale, it can cause a sore throat that lasts for extended periods. Lye is often used as an oven cleaner -- one of the hardest appliances to clean in the kitchen.

Baking soda is good as a paste, but it takes a little more elbow grease.

Article and EPA

The article 8 Hidden Toxins: What's Lurking in Your Cleaning Products was very informative and interesting. If you are having a difficult time with some symptoms that are troublesome and are having difficulty in finding what may be causing them. Look to your cleaning products. You may be surprised.

If you have any questions regarding these chemicals it is recommended to take advantage of the EPA's website. They have a wealth of information that can assist you in your research if you are concerned about chemicals you aren't sure of. The additional bonus is a lot of the information the EPA has is in plain English, that is understandable and not too technical in terminology.


EPA, (2012). Fact Sheet on Perchloroethylene, also known as Tetrachloroethylene. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from:

Sholl, J. (2011). 8 Hidden Toxins: What's Lurking in Your Cleaning Products?Experience Life Retrieved July 20, 2014, from:


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