Best Household Cleaners
Health concerns -- When looking for safe cleaning products, it's important to note that many products contain ingredients that pose potential human health hazards. The same chemical that provides a product with its cleaning power may exhibit other characteristics (like corrosivity) that increase potential health risks. Cleaning products are responsible for about 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers. Failure to follow usage instructions may lead to high exposures that cause respiratory symptoms or skin irritation. Accidental poisonings may also result from failure to child-proof where cleaning products are stored.
Ingredient disclosure — In the past year, growing consumer concern about toxic cleaning products has lead most major U.S. manufacturers to publicly disclose the ingredients in their products. However, key gaps continue to limit our ability to assess product safety. Ingredient lists rarely contain information about the percent composition of different ingredients. In addition, some disclosed ingredients are generic. For example, many companies only indicate that a product contains fragrance — making it impossible to assess the safety of specific fragrance components, some of which are linked to allergies or other adverse health effects.
Environmental concerns -- Cleaning products are typically washed down the drain to be processed by sewage treatment systems and then discharged into surface waters. Some widely used cleaning agents (like alkylphenol ethoxylate surfactants) bio-degrade into persistent compounds that may pose ecological risks. Over two-thirds of the streams sampled by the US Geological Survey have detectable concentrations of persistent detergent metabolites (as well as disinfectants) that originated in cleaning products.
Waste reduction — Most cleaning products are now packaged in plastic bottles that can be recycled. However, many consumers dispose of these bottles as trash, adding to their community's solid waste management challenges.