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Cleaning can be toxic because conventional cleaning products are a notorious source of indoor air pollution. Many of the toxic ingredients in cleaners are volatile. That means they evaporate easily (VOCs) into your air. You can also absorb the toxic chemicals in cleaning products through your skin.
Reading labels won’t help you avoid the chemicals in these products that disrupt your endocrine system and cause asthma, lung inflammation, asthma-like symptoms and other respiratory problems.
That's because manufacturers aren't required to list the ingredients on the labels. Sometimes they'll list vague categories like surfactants and fragrance that could be any of hundreds of different chemicals.
Most of what is known about the chemicals in cleaning products comes from researchers. For example, a 2014 study found 132 chemicals in the 105 cleaning products that were tested. The main groups of chemicals that were identified in the cleaners included fragrance, glycol ethers, surfactants and disinfectants.
Synthetic fragrance free is the best way to go. And something
to avoid, even in non toxic cleaners, are citrus and pine oils. These terpenes
react with the ozone in your home’s air to create particle pollution and
formaldehyde ( a carcinogen).
The best non toxic cleaning products are homemade. This is especially important for the most toxic cleaners, like carpet, disinfecting and oven cleaners.
A few simple ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap or Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner are all you need.
But if you like the convenience of store bought, any of the Attitude Cleaners are great non toxic options. Seventh Generation Free and Clear cleaners are an OK option. But some of their products use questionable synthetic preservatives.
Green Shield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner is an all purpose option. And for germs, Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus is the only disinfectant rated A by Environmental Working Group.
Additional non toxic options for the bathroom are Earth Friendly Products Shower Cleaner and Fit Organic Lime, Calcium & Rust Remover.