7 Dangerous Household Chemicals Lurking in Your Everyday Household Cleaners

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It’s really ironic that some of the dirtiest and most dangerous chemicals in our homes are the ones we use to clean our homes. And what do I mean by dirty?

Toxins. Those nasty chemicals lurking in our cabinets that have really scary side effects that are dangerous to our families.

How are they dangerous?

One of the main ways toxic household cleaners can be hazardous to our health is when these chemicals are breathed in through our lungs. This can happen by spraying aerosol sprays or simply by using cleaners that give off strong toxic fumes.

Here’s what my family is using now.

The second way we get exposed to toxic chemicals is when they’re wiped and/or mopped onto our home’s surfaces. Cleaners can leave microscopic particles on our countertops, floors, bathtubs, sinks, and even dishes through our dish detergent and soaps.

Switching to non-toxic cleaning options is easier than you may think. Here are simple baby steps to becoming a toxin-free home.

Dangers of Breathing in Cleaning Chemicals

Major studies have been done on normal home use of household cleaners and the effects on the lungs.

The results showed that using toxic cleaners in your home just one time per week can put you in the danger zone. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get by with cleaning just once per week!

They compared users’ lungs of those using common household cleaners to the lungs of longtime, pack-a-day smokers and found the lung damage was in the same range!

And if you’re using aerosol spray cleaners they are releasing VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the air as well.

Breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, can cause difficulty breathing and nausea, and can damage the central nervous system as well as other organs.  Some VOCs can cause cancer.

American Lung Association

I know this sounds crazy, but in a way, I know you’re not surprised. I know I’m not. I remember one night in particular when I got too busy and let my kids’ bathtub get a little grungier that I’d like and felt the need to scrub the tub before their evening bath.

The process took forever because I couldn’t let them come into the bathroom for at least 30 minutes because the fumes coming from my Mr. Clean Scrubbing Bubbles tub cleaner were so strong!

And if you have a child like I do that’s been diagnosed with asthma, this is especially important. Cleaners like these can even trigger a full on asthma attack and even cause asthma to develop in healthy people.

Preliminary findings also suggest that fetal exposure to household cleaning supplies may affect respiratory health. 

Environmental Working Group

Most Dangerous Household Chemicals List

Here’s a list of the most toxic chemicals hiding in the most common types of cleaning products you probably have in your cleaning product arsenal right now.

Before I dive right into the “dirty” list, you’re probably asking yourself how do you avoid this? How do you protect your family but still use products that actually clean your house? And how do you avoid overspending, because we’re all living on a budget?

The answer is, there are great quality, safe and truly natural, and very cost-effective cleaning products available on the market right now.

In fact, my family found a wonderful product line that we’re extremely happy with that ships all of our household cleaners and products right to our door.

And it doesn’t cost us any more money because we just moved our dollars from Target to them! Click here to find out what we use!

Now on to the list…

1 – Formaldehyde

This chemical is linked to cancer and is found in many products from some packaged foods, beauty products, nail polishes, pressed wood furniture, and household cleaning products.

In addition to being a known carcinogen, formaldehyde can also cause watery eyes, nausea, skin irritation, and burning sensations of the eyes, nose, and throat. Also, respiratory irritations such as coughing and wheezing.

And formaldehyde is not always listed by it’s own name but commonly listed on product labels under these names:

  • Formalin
  • Formic aldehyde
  • Methanediol
  • Methanal
  • Methyl aldehyde
  • Methylene glycol
  • Methylene oxide

2 – Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is found as a stand alone product used commonly for whitening clothes and disinfecting surfaces. It’s also an ingredient found in many household cleaners.

Many people still use bleach because it’s widely trusted as the best disinfectant. When it’s actually hazardous to use bleach especially when used alone in its concentrated form.

Exposure to chlorine bleach can cause respiratory damage, wheezing and eye irritation. Bleach fumes consist of a complex mixture of toxic, carcinogenic and irritating gases, including chlorine, chloroform and carbon tetrachloride.

The risks of bleach are not limited to those who clean for a living. A 2009 study from a 13-country research team found that people who used bleach at home four or more times per week were more likely than non-bleach users to suffer lower respiratory tract symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.


3 –Borax

This one is definitely troubling to me because until recently I always thought Borax was a safe, all-natural product. It’s not and is responsible for the following side-effects:

  • irritation
  • hormone issues
  • toxicity
  • death
  • skin rash
  • mouth infection
  • vomiting
  • eye irritation
  • nausea
  • respiratory problems

And to think I’d been letting my kids make slime with borax!

4 – 5. 2-Butoxyethanol

You can find 5. 2-Butoxyethanol in common household multipurpose cleaners and glass cleaners. This chemical shockingly isn’t required by the FDA to be added to product labels.

It can cause sore throats when inhaled, and at high levels, glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.

5 – Perchloroethylene

If you find yourself getting your family’s clothes dry cleaned or use carpet or spot cleaners frequently to get grape juice out of the carpet, pay attention to this one. Perchloroethylene or “PERC” is a known neurotoxin.

This means it affects the brain! There was a large study done on the effects of this chemical in drinking water that actually linked exposure in early life or even in gestation to mental illness and risky behaviors like drug use. Crazy, right?

California is taking action and plans to eliminate all use of perc by 2023 because of its suspected health risks.

6 – Phthalates/Fragrance

Phthalates will be found hiding in plain sight on your product labels under the name fragrance. Which, interestingly enough, the fragrance area of most household product labels can be the most dangerous.

That’s because the FDA allows over 3,000 toxic chemicals to hide in the fragrance category and not be listed individually on the label. And phthalates is a major player.

This toxin is a known endocrine disruptor which is serious business. This means it can disrupt hormones in our bodies. Phthalates are linked to lower sperm counts in men and can mimic or partially mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like male and female sex hormones.

These can have disastrous consequences for our children as these endocrine disruptors have been dubbed the “gender benders” in the science community.

7 – Triclosan

Now, this ingredient is a little different from the rest on the list because it’s the main ingredient in antibacterial soaps. This sounds like a good thing, right?

We tell our kids to wash their hands before they eat to use hand sanitizer when they can’t get to a sink to prevent the gross transmission of nasty viruses taking the ride into their bodies with their turkey sandwich at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, triclosan seems to do its job too well and can make people resistant to antibiotics making us susceptible to deadly superbugs. This is a very serious problem and in fact, was banned in 2016 by the FDA for use in hand soaps. (source)

Natural Cleaning Products

It can feel down-right frustrating to feel like you need to buy all new natural cleaning products to replace the toxic ones you may have in your cleaning closet now.

Here’s the thing… you can simply replace one product at a time as they run out or you can make things super simple and just swap out your cleaners in one box. That’s why my family did!

It was so simple and we won’t need to buy any more cleaners for many months because the bottles are so concentrated! We can make 3-4 bottles out of each concentrated bottle! To find out how we did it and what we love using click here.

Natural All Purpose Cleaners

You can also make your own cleaners. Here are 3 super simple DIY natural cleaner recipes you may want to try:

Natural All Purpose Cleaner Using Vinegar – Recipe #1

Natural All Purpose Cleaner Using Castile Soap – Recipe #2

Natural All Purpose Cleaner Using Sal Suds – Recipe #3

I haven’t tried these DIY cleaner recipes but feel free to mix them up and put them to the test in your home.

Tired of using toxic cleaners that you can't leave around your kids? The toxins on this list are scary and eye opening but you also learn how to turn your home into a toxin-free home using all natural cleaners! #naturalliving #toxinfree #toxicfree

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