Toxic Chemicals Are Hiding in the Most Surprising Household Cleaners

cleaningWhy do you clean your house? Go ahead, think about it. It's to keep your family healthy and safe, right? Well, it should be, anyway. But a horrifying new report on household cleaners that are loaded with toxic chemicals is sending us all back to the drawing board to develop a new cleaning routine today. That is, those of us who don't want to make our families SICKER when we clean the house.

The Environmental Working Group, the same non-profit watchdog that helps us keep an eye on the toxins in our fruits and veggies, took a look at the labels of the 2,000-some cleaners we use in our bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms every week. More than half contained chemicals known to harm the lungs, and nearly a quarter had chemicals that cause asthma in otherwise healthy adults. But the fact that they found scary stuff isn't surprising ... it's where they found it that really creeped me out.


You know all those "green" and "earth-friendly" products that we think are better for us?

Maybe not ... it turns out the term "organic" has no legal constraints on it. So anyone can say their product is organic. And terms like "phosphate-free" sound good but are meaningless -- they have been banned in so many states, they're not really used anywhere anyway! Even cleaners with the words "non-toxic" on the label were found to contain toxins -- talk about irony.

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Oh, and forget actually trying to suss out good from bad yourself. The EWG report says only 7 percent of all the cleaners studied adequately listed the ingredients. For the rest, the researchers had to scour the web to figure out what the heck was in there.

It's so frustrating I'd like to give up completely anymore. I've always tried to stick to safe cleaners, but it's hard. A lot of the "green" cleaners sound great in theory, but they don't actually work! I finally threw in the towel on green laundry detergent -- literally. I was finding I was throwing out perfectly good clothes because the stuff I was using just wasn't getting the stains out. I try making some stuff myself, but it's time-consuming.

And yet, the EWG study makes me even more committed to trying to find the perfect balance between what's "safe" and what "works." Their hall of shame -- the cleaners that they've deemed scariest -- is a good start. I don't use many on the list anyway, but there are a few that are about to be excised from my cleaning supplies cabinet. 

And if you haven't already, you can cut these options -- there are no safe options out there right now:

  • Air freshener
  • Fabric softener/dryer sheets
  • Drain cleaner (I already use this much-safer option for unclogging drains)
  • Oven cleaner
  • Antibacterial products

How about you? Do you use anything on the "no safe options" list? What are your go-to products for cleaning your house?


Image via Todd Baker </Flickr

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