cleaning organically since 2006


What ingredients should I look out for when purchasing cleaning products?

This is a question that we get often. What ingredients are harmful in household products, and what should be avoided. We have compiled a list of common products and ingredients that should be avoided in the home.

Avoid the following ingredients or products:

  • Air fresheners. Conventional air fresheners can contain harmful phthalates than can cause reproductive issues, carcinogens such as formaldehyde and benzene, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as d-limonene that can irritate your eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Air fresheners can cause allergy issues as well as trigger asthma.
  • Antibacterial products. You can get the job done with simple soap and water, so antibacterial products are absolutely unnecessary and can be dangerous.  The commonly used Triclosan in antibacterial products is causing deformities in tadpoles in U.S. lakes and streams–and has recently been found in human breast milk. In addition, Triclosan may encourage the growth of “superbugs” by promoting the growth of bacteria that are resistant to it. Avoiding antibacterial products and opting for soap and water is best.
  • Chlorine Bleach. Chlorine bleach is a common household cleaning product. It is sold by itself and is included in many cleaning products. It is touted as making your whites whiter, but at what cost? It is knowing to irritate to the lungs and eyes and is responsible for numerous poisoning incidents every year. Once in a waste water treatment system, reacts with other chemicals, potentially forming even more-harmful substances.
  • Fragrances. Skip that” mountain fresh” scent created by synthetic fragrances. Many air fresheners contain hormone-disrupting phthalates and can cause allergy and asthma symptoms. If you must have fragrance opt for natural oils and scents such as fresh flowers in the home or essential oils.
  • Glycol ethers. Found in glass cleaners, floor cleaners, and oven cleaners, some glycol ethers are toxic to the reproductive system. 2-butoxyethanol (aka butyl glycol or butyl cellosolve), which can damage the nervous system, kidneys, and liver and be absorbed by the skin from the air is common in household products.
  • Monoethanolamine (MEA). A surfactant found in detergents, all-purpose cleaners, and floor cleaners, MEA may induce asthma attacks and harm the respiratory system.
  • Petroleum distillates. Typically used as solvents, petroleum distillates are found in metal polishes and adhesive removers. They can cause temporary eye clouding, as well as long-term damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and eyes.
  • Phenol and cresol. Often found in disinfectants, phenol and cresol can cause diarrhea, fainting, dizziness, and kidney and liver damage.
  • Phosphates. Phosphates are found in dishwashing detergents and some laundry detergents. The nutrients they add to our water systems can result in increased growth of algae and plants, as well as an increase in the bacteria that feed on the algae and plants when they die. These bacteria rob the water of its dissolved oxygen, killing fish and other aquatic organisms.

Greening your home doesn’t have to be difficult, but paying attention to labels and ingredients in your cleaning products can do wonders for your family’s health. At Envivia Clean we choose only natural and organic cleaning products that are safe for your entire family.

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