Many people try to avoid chemicals in their cleaning products if someone in their family has allergies or asthma. Others just want to keep their homes free of harsh toxins.
You probably already have some chemical-free cleaning products in your home, without even realizing it. Effective chemical-free and non-toxic cleaning products include white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, essential oils, castile soap, hydrogen peroxide and borax.
Many commercial cleaning products advertise as being “natural,” but this doesn’t actually mean they are free of harmful chemicals. The best way to guarantee a product is chemical-free, is to be familiar with the things you ought to stay away from.
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Chemical cleaning ingredients you should avoid
Aside from ammonia and bleach, cleaning products can have other chemicals that you might want to avoid. Therefore, it is best to get products that do not have these traits.
Fragrances are surprisingly harmful
You might be wondering why fragrance is included. Most cleaning products in the market have scents like lemon, lavender, grapefruit, or any sweet or fruity scent. However, these kind of cleaning products should be avoided if you’re keeping a chemical-free home.
In addition to not actually contributing to the cleaning effect of the product, fragrances can be potentially dangerous to your health. Scents are not as safe as most people think and pose a health risk for a few reasons:
- Fragrances can permeate the skin and go into the bloodstream. The substances from fragrances can be categorized as a hormone disruptor, neurotoxin, respiratory or skin irritant, or carcinogen.
- There is self-regulation in the production of fragrances, so there is no safety test before these are sold. Some are not required to be reviewed by regulating bureaus.
- Because fragrances are a trade secret, manufacturers do not need to indicate the ingredients in a certain fragrance.
- Aside from cleaning products with fragrances, it is best to avoid purchasing air fresheners. These could just pollute the air with odors that have noxious components.
- If you encounter products labeled unscented or fragrance-free, you should double-check the ingredient list. There are manufacturers that use ingredients to conceal the chemical scent of the product.
- For natural or natural fragrance cleaning products, it is hard to determine their chemical composition because there is no specification for this.
Phthalates are everywhere
More than 75% of scented cleaning products have phthalates. Phthalates are a substance usually added to plastic, to make it more flexible. These chemicals can also be found in everything from shampoo and detergent to food packaging and flooring.
Sadly, the CDC has said that these chemicals can be found in the blood of many Americans. Phthalates have been linked to asthma, obesity, diabetes, ADHD and breast cancer. Unfortunately, phthalates are not specifically listed in the ingredients list.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
SLS is an eye and skin irritant, a toxin to the reproductive system and the ecosystem, an organ poison, and an endocrine disruptor. SLES has been connected with eye and skin irritation. Getting SLS and SLES-free cleaning products will be helpful in your search for the ideal chemical-free cleaning products.
These noxious compounds are usually included in the production of emulsifiers, pH adjusters, and fragrance ingredients. These are commonly linked to cancer, organ damage, and cancer.
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)
MIT and CMIT are preservatives that are commonly found in “natural” cleaning products. Nevertheless, these are associated with severe allergies, possible neurotoxicity, and poisoning when inhaled.
Many cleaning product companies also do not need to indicate these ingredients, making it more challenging to determine if a product is indeed chemical-free. You should look for products that are preservative-free.
Quaternary ammonium (QUATs)
You will likely find these chemicals in cleaning products that have disinfectant labels. These are connected with asthma, allergies, birth defects, and fertility difficulties.
Again, these may not be included in the ingredient list, but listed as a different name, so make sure you search for cleaning products that are free from toxins or chemicals.
Commonly asked questions about chemical cleaning products
What are the ingredients of most cleaning products?
There are various ingredients that are added to cleaning products to boost their cleaning performance. For instance, solvents such as ethanol, chlorine bleach, or preservatives. The chemical included should be listed on the product’s label or packaging.
If I inhale too many chemicals from cleaning products, what could happen to me?
The ingredients of some cleaning products can cause alarming reactions when they interact. One example is when bleach and ammonia are mixed. When inhaled, these can make poisonous odors that could trigger coughing and difficulty breathing, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Are most cleaning products toxic?
If chemicals are absorbed or ingested in high quantities, they can be poisonous. Though cleaning products are effective, proper use should always be observed to protect not only your family, but the environment as well. You should check the instructions on how to use and store your cleaning products properly.
Are chemical-free cleaning products effective?
Yes, these products are effective. Even though cleaning products with chemicals may be more effective, the chemical-free ones still do their job of getting rid of dirt and dealing with harmful organisms such as germs.
Essential oils such as tea tree, lemon, and lavender have antifungal and antibacterial capabilities and are great for cleaning. Read here to learn more about cleaning with essential oils.
Are cleaning products with Borax safe?
Though it is debated, many people believe that borax or sodium borate can cause mild skin irritations. There was also a recent study that found that borax could potentially damage the reproductive system.
It can be challenging to find chemical-free cleaning products because even those labeled as natural can have a lot of chemicals that are not always listed directly in the ingredients, but they are out there. After carefully going through the ingredients list of a product, it is recommended that you test it out to see if it is safe and meets your cleaning needs. You can also narrow down your search by checking certified organic products or products that use mostly plant-based components.