The Dangers of Commercial Cleaning Products

In 2008 Canadians spent more than $275 million on commercial cleaning products.  That fact proves that we, as a nation, are obsessed with being clean and disinfected.  Those numbers indicate that the average person believes that the commercial cleaning products they buy are safe and have been tested.

Unfortunately the truth is that Health Canada doesn’t control the safety of these products-actually, Health Canada stated in an interview with CBC: “the responsibility for assessing the hazards associated with a chemical product is that of the manufacturer.”


So let me get this straight: Health Canada places no rules on what chemicals can be in cleaning products.  In addition, they don’t test said products to ensure they are safe.
If you are one of those people who pooh-poohs the hazards associated with commercial cleaning products, perhaps you should reconsider your stance.  Go to your cupboard and take stock of all the cleaners.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.  Then come back here and compare your list to ours-and see what kind of chemicals you are housing.

Lysol Anti-Bacterial/Disinfectant Spray: you know the one.  On TV the commercials tell you to spray it on your counters, on your kid’s toys, in your garbage can, in the air.  But what is IN it?

Contents: ethanol (denatured alcohol), alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, and carbon dioxide.

Do you know what those things are?  Denatured alcohol is particularly toxic if swallowed-f you drink it, you go blind or die. Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride is a pesticide.  It is a suspected gastrointestinal and liver toxicant; immunotoxicant ; neurotoxicant; respiratory toxicant; and skin or sense organ toxicant.  In other words, it is toxic to your liver and digestive system, immune system, brain, lungs, skin and eyes.

Let’s move along…

Windex is another of those products that most people have, right?  Ingredients are: isopropanol, 2-butoxyethanol,  ethylene glycol n-hexyl ether,  water, and ammonia. 2-butoxyethanol is pretty bad stuff.  From Wikipedia:

It is recommended that one use precautions when working with glycol ethers such as 2-butoxyethanol. Employers are required by United States federal law to inform employees when they are working with these substances.[1]

Some animal studies indicate that it produces reproductive problems, such as reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects.[2] People exposed to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths. In addition to inhaling 2-butoxyethanol vapor, research has shown that skin can also absorb 2-butoxyethanol vapor from the air, making skin a major pathway of exposure to this chemical.

2-Butoxyethanol is frequently found in popular cleaning products. It is difficult for consumers to know whether their favorite cleaner contains the chemical because manufacturers are not required to list it on the label.

As for the other ingredients in Windex, Ethylene glycol n-hexyl ether can be fatal when swallowed.  Exposure is connected with cancer; reproductive/developmental toxicity; non-reproductive organ system toxicity; neurotoxicity; and skin, eyes and lung irritation.  Ammonia exposure is linked to cancer; developmental/reproductive toxicity; non-reproductive organ system toxicity; skin, eye and lung irritant; and it is also responsible for the death of fish, wildlife, plants, or other wild organisms.

Pledge ingredients can be found here.  They are isoparafinnic hydrocarbon solvent, silicone, butane, propane, and water. Isoparafinnic hydrocarbon solvents, at high concentrations, are used as pesticides.  From, with acute exposure they cause eye irritation, and aspiration into the lungs may cause severe health effects.  Silicone can cause eye irritation with direct contact. I’m assuming butane and propane are used as propellants.  Do you want these in your house?

These are just a few of the cleaning products found in the homes of people all across Canada.  Not discussed here are oven cleaners, deodorizers, toilet bowl cleaners, and many more.

One thing people must remember, especially if the have children and babies in the house, is that these cleaning products don’t just disappear after you’ve used them.  They linger on surfaces like tabletops and floors.  When your baby crawls across the floor, or picks items up and places it in her mouth, she is ingesting the chemicals.  When she rubs her eyes, the mucous membrane is absorbing those toxins. The long-term effects of these chemicals are unknown, and people have projected that up to 100% of our population will be diagnosed with some form of cancer due to environmental toxins.  Scary stuff.

So what can we do?  STOP BUYING COMMERCIAL CLEANING PRODUCTS!!!  Go to our page called “Cleaning Products We Use”, found in the About Us section, and check out the natural alternatives that work just as well and are non-toxic.

Edited to add: here’s a great site with lots of more info on the dangers of commercial cleaning products.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] Original post by earthfriendlymaidservice […]

  2. 2

    Peg Landick said,

    Sure gives you something to think about! Do you want a clean mirror or a planet?? There are so many other safe ways to clean that all the toxic stuff is not even necesary.
    We all need to think before we spray, wipe or scrub.

    • 3

      earthfriendlymaidservice said,

      This is true – but I know that the glass cleaner I make works just as well – or better – than the commercial glass cleaners I’ve used! So you can have BOTH a clean mirror and a clean planet!

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