Having a clean home is not only pleasant, but will also help avoid pests and illnesses. When it comes to how and when you choose to clean your home, there can be a lot of variability. Some people choose to clean on a daily basis while others prefer a weekly clean or will clean as needed. Just as with timing, the use of cleaning materials can also vary- and has definitely changed over time as we discover more about the products that we are using in our homes and develop individual preferences.
Some chemicals are simply too toxic to use in any home, even for the most stringent cleaning purposes. In many cases, these chemicals are only on the market because they are either present at “acceptably low” levels or because the FDA simply hasn’t pulled them off the shelves yet. Just because a chemical, or cleaning product, is legally available, does not mean that it is safe, which is why it is important to occasionally read up on current research. Here are five commercially available products that no one should be using to clean their homes:
- Scrubbing Bubbles: Despite the adorable, happy brush logo and the commercials that boast a seemingly effortless clean, Scrubbing Bubbles contains some dangerous stuff- namely a chemical called DEGBE. This chemical is a known as a lung irritant that can cause inflammation in your lungs upon inhalation. Over time, the inflammation process can result in serious complications, such as asthma or even cancer. European countries have banned any product that contains more than 3 percent of DEGBE, but Scrubbing Bubbles contains a whopping ten percent of the toxin. You should be especially weary of a Scrubbing Bubbles product with a synthetic anti-bacterial. The anti-bacterial additive sounds like a great idea, but will actually cause more harm than good and can speed up the negative effects of DEGBE and other Scrubbing Bubbles chemicals.
- Comet Disinfectant Cleansing Powder: Once a common and seemingly reliable household item, Comet has been hiding a deadly secret. The dainty and effective cleaner is a concoction of over one hundred different chemicals- some of which have been found to irritate the airways leading to asthma, and others have even been shown to cause cancer. What is worse is the fact that Comet does not disclose all of its ingredients on the label. The lack of disclosure has put Comet on the “bad” list among many environmental and public health groups that have been working to educate the public about the cheap but toxic cleaner. Among the known ingredients are chloroform and formaldehyde- which are notorious for not being great for your system. Comet is also known to be toxic if it gets into the eyes and if it is ingested- not surprising given the concoction. While comet is not a bad cleaner- it is even really effective- the health risks simply outweigh the benefits.
- Simple Green Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner: Don’t be fooled by the “green” name. This cleaner contains a number of toxins including 2-butoxyethanol, which is known to damage red blood cells, and several other chemicals that are currently being researched for potential effects such as elemental phosphorus. The cleaner is meant to be diluted to “safe” levels, but the company has not done very much to educate Simple Green users, who often expose themselves to a full-strength cocktail of the chemicals. The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, has indicated that there is “some concern” when it comes to developmental and reproductive toxicity, asthma, and cancer risks.
- Easy Off: Most “hardcore” commercial oven cleaners are actually pretty bad for you simply because their goal is to break things down. The cleaner can break down the cells and defenses around the skin, eyes and air tract as easily as it breaks down the layers of dirt, grime and food that exist in your oven. The Easy Off label does give a warning about avoiding physical contact with the chemicals. This includes wearing gloves when handling the spray, trying not to inhale the fumes and avoiding contact with clothing. Unfortunately, accidents happen and you can never be too sure that the area is properly ventilated. Instead, try a mix of baking soda and vinegar, left to sit for several hours, on mild and tough oven stains. Your lungs and skin will thank you.
Some of the above chemicals may seem appealing just because they have been used for a long time, or because they are inexpensive- which might make it difficult for you to change. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to safe and cost-effective cleaning options. For instance, baking soda and vinegar are highly effective multi-purpose cleaners with none of the toxins that you’d encounter in the bad products. You can also choose to shop for cleaning formulas that contain natural and non-toxic ingredients. These can be low-level chemicals or concentrations of vinegar and baking soda. Before you buy, do a bit of research on any of the ingredients that you do not recognize and check to make sure that the label is comprehensive. If you are using a cleaning service, or are looking to use a cleaning service, make sure to ask about the products that will be used in your home. To start, search for “maid service” in your city and proceed to vet the possible candidates. Asking will usually get you a long way and some cleaning companies will even list their products on their site.