The Absolute Worst Cleaning Products for Your Health

Cleaning your house can be a double-edged sword. On one end, it helps get rid of dust, bacteria, and other environmental aggressors. But, on the other, it could lead to a host of health issues — especially if you aren’t mindful about the types of cleaning products you use. As it turns out, household cleaners can impact health in big ways and might even lead to a compromised immune system, fertility issues, cancer, and more. Concerned about the cleaning products you use in your home? We share the worst cleaning products for your health, plus what chemicals to look out for when shopping for household cleaners, ahead.

House cleaning product

Some household cleaning products can have a lasting impact on your health. | iStock.com/Tatomm

Cleaning chemicals to avoid

Cleaning products might leave your house spick and span but their chemicals can have a last effect on your health. Here are the cleaning chemicals to avoid when shopping for household cleaners.

1. Perchloroethylene

This type of cleaning chemical is often found in spot cleaners, dry cleaning solutions, and other types of fabric or upholstery cleaning products. Perchloroethylene is a known neurotoxin and possible carcinogen that can impact brain function, including memory loss and headaches.

2. Phthalates

Beware of fragrance in cleaning products — many of them contain phthalates. Most common in soaps, air fresheners, and other scented cleaners, phthalates are endocrine disruptors that can impact the body’s hormones and cause infertility, birth defects, and more. On top of that, if the skin comes in contact with them, it can’t defend the body by absorbing it. Instead, the phthalates go directly to the organs and wreak havoc.

3. Triclosan

If you use dishwashing soap or other household cleaners labeled “antibacterial,” chances are triclosan is lurking in the bottle. The ingredient is currently under investigation as both an endocrine disruptor and possible carcinogen.

4. 2-Butoxyethanol

Common in most window and surface cleaners, 2-butoxyethanol is linked to liver and kidney damage. The scariest part? The law doesn’t require cleaning companies to list the toxic chemical. To avoid potential health issues, clean your windows with vinegar and newspaper.

5. Chlorine

Chlorine is perhaps one of the most common household chemicals and one of the most dangerous. It is often found in toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, and other cleaning products and exposure to it can lead to a host of health issues, including thyroid problems.

Most cleaning chemicals are endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, or neurotoxins. Carcinogens are a known cancer-causing chemical, neurotoxins impact brain function, and endocrine disruptors can mess with hormones, cause infertility, menstrual issues, and more.

The worst cleaning products for your health

In addition to chemicals, certain cleaning products should also be closely looked at. These household staples are chock full of harmful chemicals that can impact hormones, brain function, and even cause cancer.

1. Window cleaners

Window cleaners are without a doubt one of the worst cleaning products for your health. Most mainstream brands contain 2-butoxyethanol and aren’t required to list it. 2-butoxyethanol is a cleaning chemical that can wreak havoc on both the kidney and the liver. Instead of using a window cleaner, try vinegar and newspaper.

2. Air fresheners

Fragrance is an important cleaning chemical to look out for. Because the law doesn’t require companies to list what is actually in the so-called “fragrance” listed on the packaging, some get away with adding harmful chemicals into the formula. The chemical common in scented cleaning products is phthalates, a health disruptor that bypasses the skin and directly impacts organs.

3. Antibacterial products

Antibacterial products aren’t as good for you as you think. In fact, they’re the exact opposite. Chemicals found in antibacterial products can create drug-resistant superbugs and are currently under investigation for endocrine disruption.

4. Drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners

Be wary of drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners as they are some of the worst cleaning products for your health. Both can lead to respiratory issues, cause severe burns on the skin, and more.

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