10 Dangerous Cleaning Products
Cleaning is essential to protecting our health in our homes, schools, and workplaces. However, cleaning products—including soaps, polishes, and grooming supplies—often include harmful chemicals.
It’s important to read labels and avoid dangerous products or take precautions if you must use them.
10 Dangerous Cleaning Products
You likely have many of these 10 dangerous cleaning products in your home:
1. Conventional All-Purpose Cleaners
Many cleaners used for stuck-on messes and grease contain glycol ethers, a type of petrochemicals. Glycol ethers can enter the bloodstream through inhalation or through the skin, even if you’re wearing gloves.
Short-term exposure to high levels can result in kidney and liver damage. Long-term exposure can have detrimental effects on the nervous system and blood, including tremors and anemia.
Alternative: Try homemade cleaners or look for products without toxic ingredients.
Chlorine, the main component of bleach, can cause respiratory problems. The American Lung Association recommends limiting exposure to chlorine. Fumes from cleaners with chlorine can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat and cause headaches.
Exposure to chlorine can interfere with iodine absorption in the thyroid gland and lead to thyroid disease. People with thyroid disorders and iodine deficiency need to be especially careful to avoid bleach.
Alternative: For scrubbing, use a paste of baking soda and water. You can add vinegar to laundry as a whitener.
Vinegar will also help with most cases of mold and mildew, although you may sometimes need to use bleach.
3. Air Fresheners
Air fresheners are made with many toxic chemicals, including phthalates, polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds, and formaldehyde. Many of these have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormonal imbalances, and allergies in children.
Alternative: Use aromatic essential oils to keep rooms smelling fresh.
4. Drain Cleaners
Drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide, a toxic and highly corrosive chemical also known as lye. If it touches your skin or gets in your eyes, it can cause severe burns.
If a child swallows a drain cleaner, it can damage the stomach and esophagus. The child could need surgery or even die.
Alternative: Use a mechanical “snake” tool to unclog drains.
5. Toilet Cleaners
Products such as Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner Complete Clean© contain hydrochloric acid, which can burn your eyes and skin. Mixing products that contain chlorine with products that contain acids can produce toxic chlorine gas.
Alternatives: Select a cleaner without hydrochloric acid. You can also use vinegar to help keep your toilet clean.
6. Oven Cleaners
Oven cleaners contain highly concentrated lye, which is very corrosive. It can burn your skin and eyes and is toxic if swallowed.
Alternative: Use baking soda paste.
7. Scrubbing Bubbles©
Scrubbing Bubbles© is effective for killing bacteria. But the alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides in this product can cause respiratory problems. Another ingredient, butoxydiglycol is banned in the EU at concentrations over three percent because of its impact on the lungs.
Alternative: Use vinegar-based solutions. You can also use germicidal wipes for occasional disinfecting.
Ammonia is used in window cleaner and products for polishing bathroom fixtures. It can potentially damage your eyes or lungs. People with asthma and elderly people with lung and breathing problems are most affected.
Alternative: Try a glass cleaner that is ammonia-free. Lori Dennis, the author of Green Interior Design, notes that vodka works well for shining mirrored surfaces. You can polish silver with toothpaste.
The Environmental Working Group reported that Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder© “emitted 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders.”
Alternative: Use baking soda or citric acid on stubborn spots.
10. Dishwasher Detergents
Always keep dishwasher detergents locked away from children. If swallowed, they can cause major abdominal pain, bloody vomiting and stool, and burns on the esophagus.
How to Keep Dangerous Cleaning Products Away from Kids
Many cleaning products are toxic to children and pets. Kidshealth.org offers these tips for storing cleaning supplies safely:
- Store household cleaning products and aerosol sprays in a high cabinet far from reach.
- Use safety latches for all cabinets containing cleaning or other chemicals.
- Keep cleaning products in their original bottles. Don’t put cleaning products in old soda bottles or containers that were used for food.
- When you’re cleaning or using household chemicals, keep a close watch on the bottles or buckets if kids are around.
- Keep laundry and dishwasher supplies out of sight and in a locked cabinet.
- Laundry and dishwasher pods are more dangerous than other detergent types. If you have children under 6 years old, consider using liquid or powder instead.
Contact Our Birmingham Product Liability Lawyers
Many cleaning supplies contain dangerous chemicals. Manufacturers have a duty to include warning labels that notify customers of potential risks. Companies that mislead customers by falsely claiming a product is safe can face lawsuits.
At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, we have extensive experience in litigating product liability cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.