Hidden Danger: Cleaning Products

As I sit here typing this blog post, my windows are open and fresh air is coming in my windows. The birds are chirping here in North Idaho. It got me thinking about spring cleaning, and for some reason, the environment. I began to wonder about all the cleaning products I use in my home and the asthma attacks I have while I clean! To be honest, I spent much of my time assuming that the chemicals were the most effective way to clean, and I never dared question the big products on the market. But maybe it is time to start asking.

cleaning products and their safety

A Short History Lesson

So, I decided to start doing some research on cleaning products through out history. I wanted to see where we came from, where we are, and where we are. We are going to start out way back.  According to Envirospec.com, “Babylonians found a way to improve water’s cleaning power, and like so many great discoveries, it was by accident. Water had been used to clean cooking utensils that were covered in animal fat and wood ash. By combining the three substances, they inadvertently created the world’s first soap.” We are going to fast forward to 1898. Palmolive was created! Its name actually lends itself to what is in it! Palm and olive oil! During WWI, they created the first detergents because there was a shortage of the natural products. According to nomoredirt.com, this obviously led to advances in specialized cleaning. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, people became more conscious about the ingredients in their cleaning products. The government began to wage war against some of the very harshest chemicals that were in such products.

What is Inside My Cleaning Cabinet?

Now, lets talk about where we are. I am typing this blog post as organically as possible. Full disclosure, I have never questioned the cleaning products I used. I was going to share a photo of underneath my kitchen sink. However, my drain has begun to leak. So, in glorious fashion, I had to pull everything out so my husband could fix it!In my cleaning cabinet, I have Fabuloso, Chlorox, Pledge, a degreaser the label came off of, Windex, and more. Almost every experience with my cleaners, I have asthmatic symptoms. (The degreaser is the worst. Every time I spray it, I instantly start coughing!) However, I have come to think of this as normal for me. It has been part of my entire life. I hadn’t considered that there was something to be done about it.

So, the first item I looked up was Pledge cleaner on EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Some of the ingredients in the product is known to cause cancer and reproductive problems! I began to dig into how we are all cleaning with such toxic products without asking questions.

EWG.org does “research into more than 2,000 common cleaning products lays bare the troubling consequences of the lack of federal oversight over the ingredients in cleaning supplies. Manufacturers can use nearly any substance they want, even those known to pose health or environmental hazards. And they can hide information about virtually all those ingredients from the eyes of consumers. The result is an unregulated industry and hundreds of potentially harmful cleaning products on store shelves.” Federal law does not mandate an ingredient list on these cleaning supplies we have in our home! Going through everything on EWG, I realized that most of the cleaning products I had–at the very least–caused respiratory problems.


That left me with questions. One, what do I do with my current cleaning products? My local county dump site has a hazardous chemical station. Twice a week, this station is open and collecting these materials to dispose of properly. Check for local state, city, or county regulations and recommendations when it comes to disposing of cleaning chemicals.

Next question: Where do I start with finding quality green cleaning products?

The first place I noticed online was The Grove Collaborative. They offer a selection of natural products in many different brands for the home—not just cleaning supplies! I noticed that they now carry the Grove products at Target. This certainly would make green cleaning convenient.

The Grove Collaborative

Branch Basics is a natural cleaning company that offers affordable, natural, products at a great price, shipped to you. I have not tried out their products, but feel free to check them out! Their kits seem pretty affordable.

Now, I will leave you with final questions-What is in your cleaning cabinet, and, is it safe?

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