Household cleaning products contain VOCs and other toxic substances that are found in levels up to five times higher inside the average home.
Is your home hiding a miniature toxic waste dump right under your nose? If you’re using conventional products, the answer is probably yes -- and it might be as close as under the kitchen sink. The majority of today's cleaning products are toxic to people and the environment. And when used regularly, they contribute to high concentrations of toxins in the air you breathe in your home, but also in the groundwater, lakes and streams where you live.
The big problem for consumers is that it's hard to know what's potentially hazardous and what isn't because product manufacturers do not have to reveal the exact ingredients in their cleaning formulas -- they aren’t required to test these formulas for safety before they’re sold.
Everything from popular all-purpose cleaners and floor polishes to drain cleaners and oven cleaners have been found to contain substances linked to cancer, asthma, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems, hormonal disruption, and more. Over time, as we breathe and absorb small amounts of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals during and after housekeeping, they can make us sick.
That’s why giving your cleaning cupboard a nontoxic green upgrade may be a good idea.
Start the green upgrade by collecting every cleaning product that with the words “Poison,” “Warning,” or “Danger” on its label. You might also want to keep an eye out for "Corrosive". Another dead giveaway are the old skull 'n cross bones -- usually an indication that the stuff is nasty. Also grab those that contain synthetic chemical ingredients, or that don’t list all ingredients.
Generally speaking, you should pretty much always ditch hazardous household cleaners if:
You have trouble pronouncing the ingredients;
You can smell the products even when the lid is tightly sealed.
Take these cleaners to your nearest hazardous waste collection site for safe disposal. Just don’t pour anything down the drain, into storm drains or in your back yard where it can get into the waterways or leach into the ground water table.
When you’re done, restock your cupboard with non-toxic cleaning products made from safe ingredients derived from natural sources like lemon juice and vinegar. There are a whole host of commercially-available cleaning products out there these days and the good part is that they're not only available at natural markets any more. Most of them can be found on the shelves of conventional supermarkets.
Lastly, beware of unregulated language of greenwash. Claims with buzzwords like "natural" and "eco-friendly" shouldn't be equated with safety