For parents who work all day or anyone with a long list of responsibilities, the job of keeping the house clean can seem like a real pain. All too often, we compensate for our lack of time or energy for house chores by using cleaning products that “power through” tough jobs while minimizing the amount of scrubbing you have to do. Unfortunately, the fumes from these products can also power through our lungs or harm our health if we are not very careful with them.
Here are five of the most dangerous household cleaning products to be on the lookout for.
1. Air Fresheners
While these may seem sweet and harmless, air fresheners often contain formaldehyde and nerve agents that are actually designed to deaden and disable your olfactory nerve. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Even when these products are made in safe ways, you are still meant to be inhaling them almost directly – something you would never to with a bleach cleaner.
Ammonia is in a lot of products used to cut grease, even in dish soaps like Dawn, which we think of as being innocuous – especially since we see oil cleanup crews using it to clean black tar off of wild animals. But we tend to have a lot of apparently innocent products that contain ammonia, a substance that can damage eye and lung tissue as well as irritate the skin.
We all know that bleach can be dangerous. It is a potent corrosive that can burn any tissue it comes in contact with. But, we are often tempted to overuse it because of its clean smell and its ability to kill germs on contact. But, we need to respect bleach and understand that the fumes are just as corrosive as the liquid. The rule of thumb for bleach should be, if you smell it, you’re overexposed.
4. Mold and Mildew Cleaners
We love to kill mold and mildew, and we should. Too much mold and mildew is both unsanitary and dangerous. But molds and mildew are living things like us, and we can be harmed by many of the same substances that kill them. As it happens, the chemicals we use to kill them, sodium hypochlorite and formaldehyde, are also toxic to us. Consider using M-1 House Wash and M-1 Sure Cote Sealant as an alternative for removing mold and mildew and preventing future growth.
Most major manufacturers have removed triclosan from their products because the chemical has been linked to liver damage after being absorbed through the skin. It has been used for years in antibacterial soaps and is believed to be a major contributor to the development of drug-resistant microbes, like MSRA. Hot water and ordinary soap are still the best ways to keep your hands clean.