This is Why I Just Threw Away all of my Cleaning Products

We assume household cleaning products are safe, especially given how widely used they are. You would be hard-pressed to find a single house in America without a cabinet full of them under the sink. The truth is, very few of them actually are.


The majority of conventional cleaners are loaded with toxic chemicals which are incredibly harmful, particularly if they are inhaled or swallowed. What’s even more shocking is that there is currently no government regulation of chemicals in household cleaners! This means that we have a false sense of security surrounding their safety in our homes. Products (and their ingredients) do not need to meet a safety standard, and testing isn’t required before selling a product to consumers.

How much is too much?

It is widely argued that limited exposure to toxic chemicals won’t likely cause adverse symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to measure our thresholds to toxic chemicals. Some products cause immediate reactions while repeated exposure over long periods of time are very threatening to our health – even causing cancer, neurotoxicity, asthma, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption. Chronic exposure will add to our “toxic burden” and could lead to very serious complications.

What is a toxic burden?

In our daily lives, we are exposed to several toxic agents in our environment, food, water, home, workplace etc. Our bodies are able to withstand a certain level of toxicity without adverse effect; however, when we reach the threshold for toxicity, the toxins will greatly affect our health. We can not eliminate all toxins from our lives, but we can lessen the burden by removing the toxins that we have control over, i.e. cleaning products.

10 Common toxic chemicals to stay away from:


Where this is found: Multipurpose cleaners, kitchen cleaners, window cleaners.

What this does: In high does, 2- BUTOXYETHANOL can cause pulmonary edema, liver damage, kidney damage, and narcosis. May also cause sore throats.

What to use instead: Newspaper and diluted vinegar.

2. Perchloroethylene

Where this is found: Stain removes, carpet & upholstery cleaners, dry cleaning solvents.

What this does: Suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin via inhalation.

What to use instead: Wet-cleaning instead  of dry cleaning, cornstarch for carpets and upholstery cleaner, and undiluted castile soap to remove stains.

3. Ammonia

Where this is found: Glass cleaner and polishing agents.

What this does: Affects people with asthma and breathing issues. Can also lead to chronic bronchitis and asthma in those with repeated exposure.

What to use instead: Vodka (yes, for real!) for cleaning glass and toothpaste for polish.

4. Phythalates

Where these are found: Fragranced products like soap, plug ins, aerosol products, and air fresheners. Phythalates aren’t required to be labeled (which is crazy), so if you see the word “fragrance” in an ingredients list, it is safe to assume that Phythalates are one of them.

What they do: Disrupt the endocrine system, including lowering sperm counts in men.

What to use instead: Non-GMO soy based or beeswax candles.

5. Chlorine

Where this is found: Toilet bowl cleaners, whiteners, tap water, scouring powder, and mildew removers.

What this does: Respiratory irritant, potential serious thyroid disrupter.

What to use instead: Vinegar and borax powder. Use water filters in sink and showers.

6. Triclosan

Where this is found: Antibacterial hand soaps, sanitizers, and dishwashing detergents.

What this does: Can promote the growth of drug – resistant bacteria. Triclosan is also suspected to be a endocrine disrupter and carcinogen.

What to use instead:  Alcohol based hand sanitizer.

7. Sodium Hydroxide

Where this is found: Drain and oven cleaners.

What this does: May cause serious burns and a sore throat that lasts for several days.

What to use instead: Baking soda paste.

8. Quats (or Quarterly Ammonium Compounds)

Where these are found: Most antibacterial household cleaners, fabric sheets, and fabric softener.

What they do: Skin irritant, respiratory irritant, can create an antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

What to use instead:  Use white vinegar as a fabric softener.

9. Formaldehyde

Where this is found: Spray and wick deodorizers, store bought clothing.

What this does: Suspected carcinogen.

What to use instead: Natural deodorizers, such as lemons and coffee grounds. Wash all new clothing before wearing.

9. Formaldehyde

Where this is found: Spray and wick deodorizers, store bought clothing.

What this does: Suspected carcinogen.

What to use instead: Natural deodorizers, such as lemons and coffee grounds.

10. Glycol ether

Where this is found: Paint, cosmetics, perfume, and soap.

What this does: Possible liver and kidney damage, low sperm count, headaches, nausea and dizziness.

What to use instead: Organic, non-toxic paint.


What to use instead:

I enjoy living in a clean home just as much as the next gal. With that being said, there are several brands that make non-toxic & biodegradable cleaning agents that are safe and effective. These non toxic cleaners are devoid of harmful chemicals and use simple and powerful ingredients like water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, soap, and borax.

Brands like Method, Mrs. Meyer’s, J.R. Watkins, and Seventh Generation offer non-toxic cleaners that will give you a clean home and peace of mind. There are also several DIY recipes using household products that will help you achieve a clean, toxic-free home.

For free and simple all-natural household cleaner recipes, check out this article.

For further reading on the harmful effects of toxic chemicals found in household cleaners, check out this article.

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