If the package on the cleaning product you used clean your kitchen counter and sink told you that it contained poison, one that is capable of causing death or serious debilitation, would you still use it?

Not likely. Who wants to spread a poison that can kill or debilitate around the places where you prepare food? Or anywhere else in your home or office?

toxic – adjective | tox-ic | \ ‘tak-sik\

Containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.

Despite the fact that we know there are toxic chemicals in the name-brand cleaning products we use, we continue to splash them all over the house and in our workplaces, breathing in that lemony-fresh, and toxic, smell; the smell that major marketing campaigns have convinced us is a sign that whatever we’ve just wiped is now spotlessly clean.

One of the reasons we still use harsh chemicals for cleaning is that we might not know how harsh, or toxic, they are, or exactly how they can affect our health.

Whether you’re looking for cleaning products safe for babies or simply want to improve the health of your household, it’s important that you know what to look for.

Here are just some of the toxic cleaning chemical common household cleansers and the effect they can have on you.

1. Phthalates

This one isn’t even listed on labels because it’s an ingredient in the compounds that produce the scent or fragrance of a product and therefore is not required to be listed separately. But if your cleanser, dish soap, air freshener or even toilet paper has ‘fragrance’ listed on the package, chances are you’re being exposed to phthalates.

The Dangers of Phthalates

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors. The hormones produced by your endocrine system regulate your metabolism, growth, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, among others. Studies have shown that exposure to phthalates reduces sperm counts in men.

2. Triclosan

Found in dishwashing detergents and hand soaps that are listed as ‘antibacterial’. Again, powerful marketing machines have made it so that most of us would sooner reach for the ‘antibacterial’ soap before any other. If it kills bacteria, it must be good, right?

Except there’s little of no evidence that antibacterial soaps and detergents are any healthier or safer to use, or that they make you cleaner than plain soap.

The Dangers of Triclosan

Using anti-bacterial products that don’t clean any better than regular varieties can have a dangerous side effect. Overusing anti-bacterials spurs microbes to develop resistance, and not only to the antibacterial cleaner but also to the medical antibiotics we depend on to fight off infections. Triclosan is also being investigated as an endocrine disruptor and a carcinogen.

3. 2-Butoxyethanol

If you’ve ever had a sore throat after cleaning around the house, 2-butoxyethanol is the likely culprit. Another ‘invisible’ poison because it’s not required to be listed on ingredients labels, you expose yourself to 2-butoxyethanol when you use most window, kitchen and mult-purpose cleaners.

The Dangers of 2-Butoxyethanol

The EPA in the U.S. says that, at high levels, the glycol ethers in 2-butoxyethanol can contribute to narcosis (stupor or unconsciousness), pulmonary edema (liquid in the lungs) and severe liver and kidney damage.

4. Ammonia

Many cleaning products, especially window cleaner, proudly list ammonia as an ‘active ingredient’ that gives their product more cleaning power. It’s also found in polishing solutions for the bathroom and jewellery.

The Dangers of Ammonia

In addition to it’s cleaning power, ammonia is a powerful lung irritant. To leave your windows ‘streak-free’ clean, ammonia evaporates and becomes airborne quickly, where it can get into your lungs faster. Ammonia will irritate your lungs and potentially trigger symptoms in asthma sufferers and seniors with lung or breathing issues. High exposure to ammonia can cause chronic bronchitis and asthma.

5. Chlorine

If you’ve ever come out of a swimming pool with burning eyes, you have an idea of one of the ways chlorine can harm you. Chlorine is used in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners mildew removers and laundry whiteners.

The Dangers of Chlorine

The fact that it’s used to clean mildew tells you a lot. Mildew is a living organism and chlorine kills it. Chlorine is also a respiratory irritant and may be a thyroid disruptor.

Fortunately, you have a choice. You can continue to spread serious poisons around your home and workplace, or you can choose healthier and safer, eco-friendly cleaning products. Better yet, why not skip the cleaning altogether and use the healthy, safe, eco-friendly house cleaning service from Mona Cleaning.