We use cleaning products to keep our homes sparkling clean, fighting germs, streaks, stains and odours. Cleaning is supposed to be about maintaining a clean and healthy home. Unfortunately most cleaning products contain chemicals that can harm be harmful to your health and the environment? What kind of cleaning products do you frequently use? Have you heard about eco-friendly cleaning products?
Have a look at the label of any traditional cleaning product you have and look at the list of chemicals it contains. Some of these chemicals are quite toxic and can cause allergies in some people. Here are some examples of chemicals found in many cleaning products that can be harmful for your health.
Vapours may irritate the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. People with asthma may be particularly sensitive to the effects of breathing ammonia. Long-term exposure can cause kidney and liver damage. If ammonia is mixed with products that contain chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), it can form highly poisonous chloramine gas.
Ammonia is often found in: window cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, stainless-steel cleaners, car polish, and all-purpose cleaners.
Coal tar dyes
Derived from petrochemicals, and may be contaminated with trace amounts of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead. Dyes in cleaning products can be absorbed through the skin or ingested in the case of soap residue on dishes. There is concern that synthetic dyes may cause cancer and that heavy metals can harm the nervous system and cause other adverse health effects. Curiously, these chemicals are not necessary for the cleaning function of the products. They are primarily used for colouring.
Coal tar dyes can be found in: most types of cleaning products.
Also used as a fertilizer phosphates can be very harmful for the environment. They can reduce oxygen levels in water, potentially killing fish. They can also increase harmful algal blooms and weed growth. Certain algae blooms produce chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the water. In many countries, new regulations were introduced in 2010 that limit phosphorus concentration in household cleaning products to 0.5 per cent. These regulations are certainly an improvement, but why not use phosphate-free brands?
Phosphates can be found in: dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners.
The list of chemicals that you can find in traditional cleaning products is very long and contains some complex names such as 2-Butoxyethanol, MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), Nonylphenol ethoxylates, Silica powder, Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dehydrate, Sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, Triclosan, Trisodium nitrilotriacetate…
Previously I was not convinced of the effectiveness of eco-friendly cleaning products. I admit that I was a bit sceptical few years ago, mainly because I was used to using traditional products.
I have been using eco friendly cleaning products for over 3 years now. This has convinced me about the quality and the effectiveness of some eco-friendly cleaning products.
They are not only less harmful to your health, the environment and chemical free, but they are also just as effective as traditional cleaning products. There was also the issue that until recently there was not really any other option than using traditional cleaning products, but nowadays there are multiple brands in the market place offering a greener option.
In Australia, eco-friendly brands such as “Earth” or “Orange Power” are not more expensive than traditional brands. So I guess if I can use cleaning products that are chemical free, less harmful for my health and skin, are not more expensive than traditional products and above all effective, why use products that can harm my health and the environment? I have made my choice regarding cleaning products and I always buy the eco label if there is one available.
What about you? What kind of cleaning products do you use in you house? Do you have the green option available?