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How to Keep Your Home Clean, But Not Toxic
Potential Health Risks of Common Cleaners
- Aerosol propellants
- Chlorine bleach
- Hydrochloric acid
- Hydrofluoric acid
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Paradichlorobenzenes (PDCBs)
- Petroleum distillates
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like:
- Ethylene glycol
What Can You Do?
Consider products with:
- Citrus or plant-based oils: orange and lemon for degreasing, tea tree and eucalyptus for disinfecting, and olive for polishing
- Enzymes to break up drain clogs
- Choose products that list ALL of their ingredients.
- Make your own cleaning products from non-toxic ingredients such as baking soda, club soda, and white vinegar.
- Focus on cleaning; disinfect only when necessary. Good cleaning habits will mean you won't need to disinfect nearly as often.
- Do not use chemical carpet cleaners.
- Use chlorine bleach sparingly. Consider using fragrance-free, non-chlorine bleaches containing hydrogen peroxide instead.
- Choose unscented cleaning products. Sometimes fragrances are added to mask the smell of toxic cleaners. Furthermore, fragrances themselves can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
- Be wary of concentrated cleaners that advertise safety only when used under certain conditions.
- Avoid cleaners carrying a "danger" or "warning" label.
Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov
Healthy Child, Healthy World http://healthychild.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Cleaner, sanitizers, and disinfectants. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/prevention/Pages/Cleaners-Sanitizers-Disinfectants.aspx. Updated November 1, 2013. Accessed November 8, 2013.
Easy Steps: Chemical. Healthy Child, Healthy World website. Available at: http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/chemical. Accessed November 8, 2013.
Green spring cleaning: 9 DIY recipes for natural cleaners. Healthy Child, Healthy World website. Available at: http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/green-spring-cleaning-9-diy-recipes-for-natural-cleaners. Updated April 1, 2013. Accessed November 8, 2013.
Maitre A et al. Systemic sclerosis and occupational risk factors: role of solvents and cleaning products. J Rheumatol. 2004;31(12):2395-401.
Medina-Ramon M, et al. Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and exposure to irritant agents in occupational domestic cleaning: a nested case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2005;62(9):598-606.
Rudel R et al. Phthalates, Alkylphenols, Pesticides, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, and Other Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds in Indoor Air and Dust. Environ Sci Technol 2003; 37 (20), 4543-4553.
Rumchev K, et al. Association of domestic exposure to volatile organic compounds with asthma in young children. Thorax. 2004;59:746-751
Sure, your home is clean, but is it safe for your family? Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/pubs/hhw-safe.htm. Published October 2006. Accessed November 8, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2013
- Update Date: 11/08/2013