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Dangers of Household Cleaners 101

Ingredients to avoid and why

NOTE: is the best website to get neutral, balanced reports on your favorite cleaners.

It is important for you to know WHERE I GET MY FACTS, and that site is one of the first places I visit.

Did you know...the average household contains anywhere from 3 to 25 GALLONS of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners. (gasp!) Currently,

no law requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety.

It’s up to you to make sure your home is not only clean, but also SAFE!

Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to identify which products contain these hazardous ingredients. While cleaners are the only household products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, their sellers aren’t required to reveal these products’ ingredients. These ingredients are considered “trade secrets,” so government regulations are actually designed to protect this proprietary information, not to protect human health or the environment. Can you even believe that? I don't know about you, but that just fires me up inside. CONSUMERS HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!

The labels DANGER, WARNING and POISON give only a very general idea about the seriousness of the unknown substances a product contains. These warnings apply only to a product’s IMMEDIATE health effects; they don’t illuminate what happens when we use them over a long period of time.

After starting this business, I went back to school and became a certified Natural Health Practitioner. It was important to me that I know EXACTLY why this business is so important to people's health and longevity. I think about all the men and women who are janitors or cleaning professionals and using these DANGEROUS products every day. So what are these dangerous chemicals and how can they effect the body LONG TERM?

Here are some of the most popular ingredients you are likely to encounter (among many others), and the possible effects, while cleaning:

About 80% of the ammonia produced in industry is used in agriculture as fertilizer. Ammonia is also used as a refrigerant gas, to purify water supplies, and in the manufacture of plastics, explosives, fabrics, pesticides, dyes and other chemicals. It is found in many household and industrial-strength cleaning solutions. Cleaning solutions for industrial use contain higher concentrations of ammonia and can quickly cause irritation and burns. When ammonia enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce ammonium hydroxide. This chemical is very corrosive and damages cells in the body on contact.​

These detergent-like chemicals break down into alkylphenols, potent hormone disruptors widely detected in people and the environment. The E.U. and Canada have banned them in cleaning supplies. The U.S. (surprise!) has not. Some common ones are: nonyl- and octylphenol ethoxylates, or non- and octoxynols.

This is a chemical used as a disinfectant, detergent, and antiseptic. Because of these properties, it’s found in hand sanitizers, first aid products (to prevent infection in minor scrapes and cuts), leave-on skin antiseptics, hygienic towelettes and wet wipes, and disinfectant solutions used to clean surgical instruments. Benzalkonium chloride is also used as a preservative in eye, ear, and nasal products, and as a disinfectant in household cleaners for floors and hard surfaces. You may find it in mouthwashes, hand and face washes, and spermicidal creams as well. The concern? Studies have shown it to be an immune, skin, and respiratory toxicant as well as carcinogenic.

  • Butane: known to cause neurotoxicity

  • Butylene Glycol (also known as butyl glycol, ethylene glycol, monobutyl) This is common in most cleaners (all-purpose, window, etc.). Dangerous to the nervous system, liver, kidneys. Poisonous if swallowed and irritating when inhaled.

  • Chlorinated phenols

This can be found in toilet bowl cleaners which are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.

Bleach is very obviously strong, corrosive and irritating to both the eyes and lungs.

This can be found in window cleaners and depresses the nervous system. Other names: 2-butoxyethanol (or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether) and other glycol ethers. 2-butoxyethanol is a widely-used cleaning solvent that: causes anemia by damaging red blood cells, creates air pollution that exceeds workplace limits, is linked to impaired fertility and reproductive and developmental toxicity, and (just to really make the case) EPA considers it a possible human carcinogen.

  • Dye.

Companies often hide chemical information behind this word; when it's this unknown, it's safer to skip it altogether.

  • Ethanolamines.

These pH-stabilizers can cause otherwise healthy people to develop asthma. Some studies show that certain ethanolamines are carcinogenic or neurotoxic. Common ones to look out for are: mono-, di-, and tri-ethanolamine.

This is found in spray and wick deodorizers and is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.

These mystery mixtures can contain hundreds of untested chemicals, including toxic ingredients like phthalates and synthetic musks - both hormone disruptors. Fragrances are also among the top five allergens in the world. I personally get MAJOR MIGRAINE HEADACHES from synthetic fragrances.

This is a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, it is banned in Europe; it has been shown to biodegrade slowly into even more toxic compounds. Because it does biodegrade, it is considered "green", so you may find this even in GREEN cleaners. However, it breaks down so slowly it emits terrible toxic compounds.

This is a spot remover that causes liver and kidney damage.

Petroleum is solvents found in many floor cleaners and can damage mucous membranes

  • Phthalates, Parabens, and Sulfates....This is especially bad for MEN! It can block male hormones and can interfere with normal genitalia development. High phthalate levels can cause sluggish sperm, low androgen and testosterone levels in adult males. Most Americans tested have metabolites of Phthalates in their urine. It disrupts and interferes with your body´s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body. Because of the endocrine (hormone) disruptors, they interfere with normal brain function. Phthalates and Parebens send signals in the body that could result in Autism, Breast Cancer, Testicular cancer and reduced sperm counts

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) cites skin, liver and kidney damage that can result from contact with PG.

Inhalation can cause a number of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the nose and mucous membranes, throat irritations, and even difficulty with breathing. If there is longer exposure, the fumes from the alcohol can affect your digestive tract and this can result in nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of alcohol can be especially dangerous for children since their systems are less able to deal with the fumes.

(*Info taken from,,,,)

Beware incomplete information Vague terms like "preservative" or "surfactant" don't really tell you what chemicals are in your cleaning supplies. This new "communication initiative" specifically allows fragrances, dyes, and preservatives to be identified by their functional names - in other words, the ingredient list will say just that: dyes, fragrances, and preservatives. Not thinking that qualifies as transparency - you?


I wish I could inform you that there are many cleaners to choose from. While "green cleaners" seem to be a dime a dozen, the truth of the matter is: most of them are still using synthetic ingredients. While the amount of synthetics may be much less, my question is, WHY USE THEM AT ALL?


Happy Heart Home Products are all 100% organic! They are made right here in my very own office. Quality control is of upmost importance to us, and our motto is, if it shouldn't go in your mouth, it shouldn't go in our bottles! That doesn't mean you can drink our cleaners! (ew!) What it DOES mean is that we stick with using "edible" (in theory) ingredients that are organic, minimally processed, and not genetically modified.

VISIT OUR SITE: to view our product line & services.


Please call your city to determine if they have a plan in place. If not, call cities nearby and see if they do and if they would allow you to dispose of your cleaners properly.

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