The Dirt on Cleaning Products by Guest Blogger, August 20 2008, 0 Comments

Copyright: frannyanne / 123RF Stock Photo

Even with all the warning labels and pictures of skulls with crossbones, who knew that what we believed was safeguarding our children and pets from goopy disease and bacteria was perhaps one of their most dangerous enemies? Cleaning products are on the chopping block and consumers are becoming savvy to the effects of harsh and harmful chemicals that run rampant among the most potent of cleaners.

Popular, once sought after ingredients are getting the boot they deserve in lieu of more eco (and pet & baby) friendly products. Common ingredients like chlorine and ammonia—which can cause skin, eye and respiratory problemscan yield toxic results if swallowed or mixed. Those tell-tale signs of a clean home are often the result of either toxic fumes or synthetic fragrance, which contains volatile organic compounds, or VOCs (the fragrant part of fragrances), as well as phthalates to give those VOCs some real staying power. After all, what good is a clean home if that clean, fresh scent dissipates in 20 seconds? By the by, you can get a healthy aromatherapeutic effect from using essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

It’s not just the chemicals that pose a threat, it’s the thousands of different combinations of these volatile compounds and their preservatives that can cause trouble as well. Cleaning chemicals increase the likelihood of childhood asthma, have been associated with reproductive cancers and miscarriage and contribute to poor indoor air qualityin addition to playing a starring role in calls received by poison control centers all over the world. Other chemical culprits include the likes of monoethanolamine (found in all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners and laundry detergents), and glycol ethers, often present in all purpose sprays and glass cleaners.

While learning which ingredients to look out for certainly wouldn’t hurt, it can definitely be confusing and even overwhelming. And with rampant "green washing", putting your faith in a company can be a wee bit scary. Some ground rules to consider when shopping for eco (and health) friendly cleaners is to buy from companies that make their ingredient lists available and to avoid products with evasive titles like simply “fragrance” or “surfactant”. These are likely trouble that can be avoided by going with a company that doesn’t use evasive tactics.

While product ratings may vary to some degree within a specific line, some tried and true companies include Ecover, Seventh Generation and Biokleen. Or learn to make your own cleaning productsit’s super easy, super affordable and perhaps the healthiest option of all.

Guest Blogger: Julie Reitz