Monday, June 7, 2010

The Controversy: Are Cleaning Products Dangerous?

In a March, 2009 article in USA Today, writer Liz Szabo reported that the company S.C. Johnson will remove phthalates from their cleaning products and will begin disclosing the ingredients list on all labels. S.C. Johnson makes Windex, Shout, Pledge and other popular cleaning products. Phthalates have been linked to genital abnormalities in newborn boys. I'm glad to see the S.C. Johnson company taking action, but there are many other companies out there that have not.

According to a June 2001, CDC article titled Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern, scientists were concerned that the increase of antibacterial surface cleaners would cause a spike in the amount of antibacterial-resistant bacteria. This was in 2001! Yet, in 2010, antibacterial household cleaners and hand soaps are still available. I refused to buy liquid hand soap at a CVS this past winter when all they had on the shelves were antibacterial products. (I'm pretty sure they normally stock regular soap, they just happened to be out of it.) I've occasionally been instructed to send antibacterial soap in to my son's schools when they are collecting school supplies at the beginning of the year. If the CDC was worried about this stuff in 2001, why are they still available? And, why are schools requesting them specifically?

From phthalates to antibiotics and other, possibly even more dangerous chemicals in our cleaning products, why are so many of us still choosing chemical cleaners? I know I'm guilty of it, too. While I do choose to use white vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning needs, I still use conventional liquid dish soap, dish washing powder for the dish washer and conventional laundry detergent. And, I occasionally use special hard wood floor cleaner. Why? Because I feel like these products really get the job done and, in the case of the floor cleaner, they smell nice. I'm not proud of it and I'd like to find alternatives, but I haven't been able to find something that still gets our laundry and dishes clean with our hard water.

What about you? Do you use chemical cleaners? Antibiotic cleaners? Or, are do you stick strictly with the all-natural cleaners?


  1. I do pretty well.
    I use biokleen for my laundry (from Vancouver Wa - < 100 miles from me) concentrated - seriously, I'm a massage therapist, & a half gallon lasts MONTHS - my main concern is the oils (I use straight coconut oil for massage). Their laundry liquid is phosphate & chlorine free, has grapefruit seed & orange peel; I often add some soda to my wash, & use their spot cleaner occ; also their dish soap, like you, soda n vinegar; I have some of the dish soap w/ vinegar n water in a spray bottle for counters.
    My mom was fragrance sensitive, she used Ivory soap flakes & White King D for laundry, I always notice when folks use 'smelly stuff' in their wash!

  2. I'd love to say I'm strictly all-natural but I use some commercial cleaners. This past bit I've been phasing out the commercial too. If you're looking for some new recipes I have some posted on my blog. (click on the diy green clean circle)

  3. The problem is that the cleaning companies have been using these ingredients for many many years, and only know are they seeing the light. Apter Cleaning