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7 Toxic Household Cleaners

Updated on November 7, 2015

Toxic Chemicals Found in Your Home

Toxic household cleaners have become commonplace in our homes. Over the years, many of us have bought into the sales pitches from companies selling these chemicals that we need them to keep our homes clean. But at what price? Many of these chemicals have negative side affects and are damaging to our health. There are many health friendly and green friendly alternatives to the common household brands many still use today. Some of the most dangerous chemicals in our homes today include: ammonia, bleach, drain cleaners, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, degreasers, and insecticides. Here is a look at 7 brand name chemicals that fit into these categories and also are toxic to your health.

What is Ammonia and Why Is it Toxic?

Ammonia is chemically described as NH3; trihydrogen nitride. It has a strong sharp odor that causes immediate irritation when inhaled. As a household chemical, it is typically diluted with water. In other words, when you buy Ammonia in a store for household use, what you buy is a diluted concentration of ammonia which would otherwise be too strong. Ammonia is used for a variety of cleaning applications in the home. It can be used for cleaning surfaces, sinks, and toilets. It can also be used as a basic degreaser. The trouble is, ammonia is a poison and it is poison to your body. Inside a home, its easy to make yourself sick from the smell of it alone because the air is enclosed. If you get it on sensitive areas of your body, it can be cause skin irritation. When inhaled, you can experience burning of the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Higher concentrations of ammonia can cause chemical burns to your skin. Our advice: avoid it, there is a better way.

What is Sodium Hypo-Chlorite Bleach and why is it Toxic?

Clorox brand bleach is a chlorine based bleaching agent called sodium hypo-chlorite. This is the most common type of household bleach that you will come across. Bleach is used for removing stains and colors from clothing and other items. Some people believe it will kill mold and mildew but that is a myth. It will bleach the color out of it, but will not kill the mold. But it is also a toxic chemical. It has a strong odor. When inhaled, bleach can cause irritation in the nose and throat. On the skin, it can cause burning and blisters. It is poisonous and should be treated that way. We recommend you do not use it. It's a danger to your family and there is a much better way.

Drain Cleaners like Drano and why they are Toxic

Drano is just one of many types of drain cleaners on the market. Drano is composed of lye, salt, sodium nitrate, and aluminum. When the aluminum mixes with the lye, it creates a boiling chemical reaction. For the purpose of cleaning drains, it is very effective because it is able to cut and burn through hair and other large particles as it froths its way down the drain. Draino eventually breaks down into relatively harmless substances so is not an immediate threat to the environment. But it puts off toxic fumes during the chemical reactions and can cause eye, nose, throat irritations that can include burning. There are much better solutions for getting rid of drain clogs that are both nontoxic to humans and environmentally friendly.

Air Fresheners Like Febreze and Why They Are Toxic

Air fresheners like Febreze are designed to mask odors with pleasant chemical smells. The trouble is two-fold; not everyone finds febreze smells pleasant and the chemicals used in febreze are simply not healthy for your body. Many people who suffer from asthma and allergies find air freshener products like febreze will send them into an asthmatic episode. Because air fresheners are releasing chemical compounds into the air, they are adding to the gases in the air, rather than purifying the air of pollutants. Even if you do not react to air freshener products negatively, you should avoid using them. Your body was designed to intake oxygen, not other chemical compounds. Avoid them, there is definitely a better way.

Carpet Stain Cleaners are toxic to your health

Blue Magic is just one of many carpet stain cleaners on the market. By the company's own information, if you inhale it it can make you dizzy and give you headaches. If you for some strange reason swallow it, it can give you nausea and cause you to vomit. There are several different types of carpet cleaner chemicals because there are several different methods for removing stains. These methods use different chemical compositions. As with most household chemical compositions, they are dangerous to you and your family's health. Solving a carpet stain problem is more complex than some other household cleaning issues. But there is still a better solution. Look to some of the green friendly enzyme based cleaners. Or better yet, just get rid of your carpet. Its a germ infested health hazard to your family all by itself before you bring cleaning chemicals into the equation.

Toxic Degreasers like 409

Some of the first degreasers were composed of Trichloroethylene but this chemical compound is so toxic to humans that it is now used mostly in commercial settings. The household degreaser 409 is more indicative of what is commonly used today. 409 contains Dimethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride, n-propoxypropanol, and monoethanolamine. The degreaser is capable of causing eye, nose, and throat irritation and is dangerous to your skin in general. There is nothing that degreasers like this one offer that can justify their use because there are now many environmentally friendly non-toxic enzyme based cleaners that are equally effective. Throw out your store bought toxic degreasers and start using earth friendly, people friendly solutions.

Insecticide is Bad For You

Need I say more? Insecticide is a poison used to kill unwanted insects. It is toxic chemical that, when used, works its way into the soil, into the water, and back into you. When you use it, you often inhale it. It has the ability to make you very sick from inhalation or ingestion. It can burn your skin, and irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. This goes for your bug sprays too. Most bug sprays contain deet, which is a chemical compound that was used in chemical warfare in the Vietnam war, commonly referred to as Agent Orange. Many war veterans from that era had long term side affects from this chemical compound. There are plenty of non-toxic ways of addressing insect issues. Make a commitment to boycott insecticides and use natural non-toxic alternatives that are better for you, your family, and nature.


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    • pollobowl profile image

      pollobowl 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Scary isn't it? Over the past year I've been trying to rid my home of all of those harmful chemicals. They're just bad news.

    • greenhealthguru profile image

      greenhealthguru 5 years ago

      I just published a hub exploring green cleaning methods that will work as replacements for these toxic cleaners.