Today we are going to break down why all purpose cleaners are harmful to you and your family.
Our time is limited. That is why when we clean we want a cleaning product that will enable us to clean all surfaces quickly. There are two camps. One camp uses a wide selection of products each designed to clean each type of surface, yet still needs a cleaning product that will fill in the gaps. The other camp is seeking a single product to be used in all situations. In both camps the All-Purpose Cleaner is used.
All-Purpose Cleaners harmful ingredients are prevalent. A study on chemicals used in household products in New Jersey and Massachusetts showed that in those two states alone, 28 million pounds of chemicals were used that are known or suspected neurotoxins, carcinogens, or reproductive or developmental toxicants were used.
Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard they pose. Even some of those that are labeled green are still harmful (check out our post, Are Your Green Cleaning Products Toxic or Safe). Some are acute, creating immediate hazards, while others are associated with chronic or long-term effects on our health, such as cancer. Furthermore, studies of household dust have shown high levels asthmagens and other toxic chemicals. Dust in our homes and workplace act like magnets for the toxic and harmful chemicals we use to clean.
Since chemicals in cleaning products are not required to be listed on the packages, we do not know what all-purpose cleaner harmful ingredients are used either as a traditional cleaner or a green cleaning product or green janitorial supply.
To make them work, all-purpose cleaners that are not green cleaning products may contain one of more of the following harmful ingredients:
- Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs)
- Glycol ethers
- DEA, MEA and TEA
Some of the reasons (and consequences) for using these harmful all-purpose cleaner ingredients are:
- Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs) are derived from petroleum and are surfactants (a substance that helps dissolve grease and stains and keeps them suspended in the water instead of being re-deposited on the item). Alkylphenol ethoxylates have been found to reduce embryo survival in fish and alter tadpole development. APEs are commonly detected as contaminants in rivers and streams, and have also been found in household dust.
- Glycol ether, also known 2-butoxyethanol, 2-butoxyethanol acetate or Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, is a solvent commonly found in all-purpose cleaners to help cut the grease. Many glycol ethers have almost no smell and you can be overexposed to them without knowing it (the skin can absorb the vapors from the air). Unfortunately glycol ethers have been linked to reduced fertility (both in men and women), anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, liver and kidney damage, and more.
- DEA, MEA and TEA, short for diethanolamine, monoethanolamine and triethanolamine respectively, are all purpose harmful ingredient used as solvents, emulsifiers and wetting agents. These can react with nitrites (added as undisclosed preservatives or present as contaminants) to form carcinogenic nitrosamines, which readily penetrate the skin.
Additionally, many colored products are made with carcinogenic coal tar colors. Hormone disrupting parabens may be used as preservatives. Many cleaners also include fragrances and detergents. Plus alternative brands may contain d-limonene, a sensitizer that can also cause respiratory distress as well as liver, kidney & nervous system damage. D-limonene is a hazardous substance, although it is derived from a natural source.
The market for household cleaning products in USA was $14.4 billion in 2005 alone. As we know, advertisements fail to mention that many cleaning products contain chemicals that may actually be harmful to our health. For this reason it is imperative to understand and seek green cleaning products and green janitorial supplies that are safe and non-toxic such as those offered by Green Cleaning Products.
Looking for the best green home cleaning products? We are pleased to offer green cleaning products for sale from a number of hand selected companies that we feel offer the best products. Some of recommended alternatives to harmful All Purpose Cleaners: