Years ago, right around the time I was pregnant with my second son, I found myself wondering about all of the things I was supposed to avoid to protect my health and the baby’s. The list was frustratingly long, from deli meats to large amounts of caffeine to long, hot baths (and really, how was I supposed to get through a day without copious amounts of coffee if I didn’t even have a nice bath to look forward to?). But one thing that surprised me a bit, as I walked around my house scrutinizing everything, seeing everything with fresh eyes to make sure that it was still safe to be around, was the number of cleaning supplies in my cabinet labeled with words like “DANGER” or “WARNING” or “POISON.” I thought these products were supposed to make my home cleaner and safer, but with disclaimers like that, surely, those weren’t good for me to be around, or maybe even for anyone to be around. I took a closer look at some of the ingredients in these products, and these are the alarming ingredients I found.
Words to Watch For:
- Formaldehyde: I had no idea that the stuff we used to preserve the frogs we dissected in high school was also in air freshener spray. It can irritate your respiratory system, and worse, it may cause of cancer.
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylates: This detergent ingredient is actually banned in Europe; among other things, it’s an endocrine disruptor, which means that it can mess up your hormone levels and hurt your reproductive system.
- Phthalates: Commonly found in perfumed cleaning products (which is to say, almost all of them), this stuff is both an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen.
- Diethylene Glycol: Found in window-cleaning products, this stuff can damage your nervous system.
- Chlorinated Phenols: These are usually part of the ingredient list for toilet-bowl cleaners and it’s toxic to your circulatory and respiratory systems.
- Perchloroethylene: Anything that has grease-removing powers could have this in it, and if so, it also has the power to damage your kidneys, liver, and nervous system.
- Sodium Hypochlorite: This is a fancy name for bleach, which can not only cause harm to your kidneys and liver, but can severely damage your skin, eyes, mouth, and throat just by touching it or being exposed to its vapors.
How Can You Clean Safely?
The first step you should take to detoxify your cleaning routine is to toss out anything you own with any of these chemicals and anything else that has one of those bold warnings on its label. Then, you have two options. The first possibility is to buy replacement products, taking care to choose options that don’t have any of these ingredients or warnings: A good starting point is to look for products that are labeled as biodegradable or environmentally friendly. The second option is a little more work, but it’s cheaper and sure to be safe, and that’s to make your own cleaning products. It’s amazing what you can do around the house with simple things like vinegar and baking soda!