How to Find Safer Cleaning Products

Conventional cleaning products can contain some very strong chemicals – including some harmful ones. Common chemicals in cleaners have been linked to a range of human health harm, from reproductive problems like fertility issues and birth defects, hormone disruption, breast cancer, asthma and other respiratory problems, and allergies.

The kicker is that cleaning product companies aren’t required by law to list all the ingredients in their cleaners, so people haven’t even had the information they needed to try to figure out which ones are safer. That’s begun to change recently thanks to the work of groups like Women’s Voices for the Earth. Unfortunately, most companies are still keeping fragrance ingredients a secret, where toxic chemicals like phthalates, musks, and styrene can lurk.

So given all this, how are you supposed to find a cleaner that’s safe to use? We’ve got you covered.

Tips for Finding Healthier Cleaning Products
  • Look for products with all ingredients listed on the label.
  • Go fragrance-free if you can.
  • Ditch the air fresheners. Don’t even get us started on these. Secret fragrance chemicals can make up 70-80% of the total formulation, and use of air fresheners has been linked to serious health harm.
  • Try to use a single multi-purpose cleaner where possible. Cleaning product companies have convinced us that we need a different product for every surface, but usually a multi-purpose cleaner is all you need for general cleaning – and it reduces your exposure to the myriad chemicals in all the rest of those cleaners you’d otherwise be using.
  • Save disinfectants for the really icky situations. Disinfectant cleaners can contain some really harsh and harmful chemicals like ammonium quaternary compounds, linked to asthma and reproductive harm, and triclosan, linked to hormone disruption and a whole host of other problems. Luckily, those chemicals will have to appear on the label because they’re registered pesticides, so you can avoid them pretty easily.
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