Tips for Purchasing Cleaning Supplies

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The troublesome thing about cleaning products and supplies is that they are not subject to labeling guidelines. This means that you need to do a little research and have some guidance to know exactly what you’re considering purchasing.

There are many harmful chemicals found in products such as drain opener. Think about it; if a chemical is strong enough to dissolve bundles of hair how bad a threat can it really pose? These chemicals can severely harm your health.

There’s a severe problem when you have to open a window to avoid headaches due to noxious fumes or even cope with skin rashes and irritations caused from contact with the product. This isn’t as obvious when you’re in the store buying it based on the box. You’ll find that very few of these products carry the names of chemicals they use.

Ongoing research has proven just how dangerous some of these ingredients can be, and they’re often derived from a chemical called ethoxylates. It’s a chemical compound that includes bisphenol-A (BPA). This chemical compound has even been linked to the cause of cancer, and it disrupts natural hormone functions. A study in the journal Chemosphere these compounds can get into the human brain, fatty tissues, or liver.

“Hormonally active compounds such as bisphenol-A and some artificial fragrances are compounds that can mimic or otherwise alter the body’s hormone system,” Robin Dodson explains, ScD, who is a research scientist with the company Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass. He goes on to say, “Evidence from laboratory and human studies suggests that these chemicals can affect developing reproductive and nervous systems, metabolism, and cancer.”

Co-writing a study that looked at 213 chemical compounds that were found in household cleaners was Dodson, and it covered carpet cleaners to detergents. They found multiple chemical compounds like triclosan and ethanolamines which have been proven to interfere with the action of hormones in the body. This is a result of people using too many of these products so the negative effects are then compounded.

Dodson goes on to say that “Based on our research, consumers can avoid some chemicals including antimicrobials, such as triclosan, and fragrances by reading the product label.” Though she will admit that many products to not clearly identify these chemical compounds.

The federal government does not require that cleaning products label what their ingredients are, even though hazards and dangers have been a proven problem. The only exception to this rule is household products that are ridden with pesticides such as bug killers. There will usually be some kind of label on the product, but that doesn’t mean it’s industry standard. In these labels you’ll often find unclear or vague terms that will not reveal too much information on how to go about the buying process.

Healthy Cleaning Product Resources to Buy Non-Toxic Supplies

Consumers have desired more information for quite some time. Now there are consumer groups, government agencies, and even retailers and some manufacturers have rating scales that can help you choose the healthiest and best options in cleaning products and supplies. These scales make sure to weigh in the ingredients used in the product as well as the manufacturer’s willingness to be open about the ingredients used. Below you’ll find four excellent informational aids:

  • Design for the Environment logo. This is from the Environmental Protection Agency, and this is a logo that allows for consumers to feel safe with the product they choose. They’ll know it’s safe for people, pets, and the environment this way. You can find products carrying this logo here.
  • Guide to Healthy Cleaning. The Environmental Working Group developed this, and it’s a searchable guide which will rate the products from A to F.
  • Whole Foods Eco-Scale Rating System. The Whole Food Market along with manufacturing partners created this system, and it rates products on a scale that’s from green to red.
  • GoodGuide. The GoodGuide is a searchable database that has a mobile application that provides a rating system that consists of numerous household and personal care products that have been reviewed.

Dodson will go on to caution that these resources do rely on the manufactures to list their ingredients. Research shows that these products still contain chemical compounds which are not able to be clearly identified on any of their labels.

Healthy Alternatives for Home Cleaning

“It was a mystery to me why if we can send a man into space, we hadn’t developed a safe and effective cleaning product,” states Kevin Tibbs, who is a chemist and the co-founder of Better Life. Better Life is a line of safe cleaning products that voluntarily shows ingredients labels. Tibbs was inspired to develop these products by his daughters. “Kids want to clean, and they want to help,” he goes on to say. “There’s no way I would give them a commercial cleaner.”

Better Life is a product line of only a handful that is similar to Green Concepts, Berkley Packaging Co., Kirkland Signature, Amway Global, and Clean Cut Solutions along with others that aim to meet the need for healthier cleaning supply choices. The burden is still on the consumer to figure out if the products on your shelf are non-toxic. Tibbs goes on to recommend avoiding items that contain the following ingredients:

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial dyes
  • Ethoxylates
  • Parabens
  • Petrochemical solvents
  • Sulfates
  • Synthetic fragrance

The healthier cleaning options for home cleaning are still out there, and they may even already be in your home. Dodson even says that “Plain water and simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar work for many cleaning tasks.”

Here’s one final healthy cleaning tip for your home: You must store these supplies in a safe manner. Items that are seemingly safe can require medical treatment in cases of accidents such as swallowing or spraying it into the eyes.

There are many emergency room visits that are caused by these normal everyday cleaning supplies, and one study shows that household cleaning supply injuries over a 16-year period that one in three of these cases in children that are five and under swallowed bleach, which is common cleaning product. Stain removers and odor removers are also common causes.

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