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Do your cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals?

Do your cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals?

In Australia, only 3.3% of the 10,500 new chemicals that enter the market annually are assessed by our national regulator*

We’d all like to think that if a product is sold in our local supermarkets and stores, then it’s guaranteed to be safe, right? Wrong. At least for 96.7%, it's a bit of a wild west.

Many of these mostly unregulated chemicals can be found in our everyday cleaning products such as surface sprays, laundry detergents, floor polishes and bathroom cleaners. Long-term exposure to the chemicals found in most everyday cleaning products can seriously damage your health.

Exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins has been linked to a range of serious health concerns. These include asthma, long-term lung damage, skin irritation, poisoning among children and even cancer. Sassy Organics deals with a range of different companies and products to help people shop with care and confidence even if they don't know which ingredients to avoid. There are heaps of caring, committed brands around now and opting for a guaranteed natural and trusted cleaning brand is a great way to stay safe.

What chemicals and products should I avoid?

We aren't always in a position to buy from a reliable source, so it does help to know which chemicals to look out for. We couldn’t possibly list all the dangerous chemicals out there in one post, but there are some common nasties that you should look for when reading the backs of product labels.

  • Perchloroethylene or PERC is common in dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers and carpet cleaners. You’re most likely to inhale this chemical, which has been identified as a possible carcinogen.
  • 2-Butoxyethanol is a key ingredient in many window cleaners – used for its sweet smell properties and ability to break down oil and dirt. Extended exposure to 2-Butoxyethanol can cause liver and kidney damage, narcosis and pulmonary edema (excess lung fluid).
  • Ammonia is a polisher and glass cleaner that is great at leaving a streak-free shine. However, it is also irritating for human tissue and can cause permanent damage to mucous membranes and your cardiovascular system.
  • Sodium Hydroxide is often used in heavy-duty products like oven cleaners. This harsh chemical can cause severe irritation and reactions if you inhale it or contact the skin.
  • Chlorine, the same chemical used to clean pool water, is commonly found in scouring powder, laundry whiteners and toilet cleaners. Over time, exposure to chlorine can disrupt thyroid functioning, irritate the skin and cause chronic dryness.
  • Triclosan is common in liquid dishwashing detergents and antibacterial hand soaps. This aggressive antibacterial agent can promote drug-resistant bacteria.

Rules of thumb

Although it’s always good to carefully read labels and look for accreditations and declarations, but many companies aren’t obliged to list all ingredients. You might struggle to learn much about the chemicals inside some of your everyday household cleaners. It’s generally best to avoid using a product if you don’t know its ingredients. And avoid any that have danger or toxic warning labels (you might be surprised how many that is).

How can I clean my house safely?

Switching to all-natural cleaning products doesn’t have to be hard. There are many kitchen items you probably already own that can double as cleaners. Think water, baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and borax. With some elbow grease – these can all be used to remove stains, dirt, germs and grime effectively. 

That said, using specifically formulated chemical-free and all-natural cleaning products will be more convenient and likely more effective. Chemical-free cleaning products typically use botanical blends, essential oils, plant extracts and herbs. Plus you won’t catch natural cleaning brands using any of the harsh chemicals listed above, or other nasties like synthetic fragrances and dyes for that matter. Choosing natural products is also great for the environment. These products don’t pollute our air and waterways with harsh toxins.

A great cleaning products maker who Sassy Organics work with is family-owned and run business, Koala Eco, who make their natural cleaners using high concentrations of essential oils from native Australian plants. Planet Luxe is another popular natural cleaning brand whose formulations use botanical blends of organic herbs, plant extracts and pure essential oils.

Using all-natural and chemical-free cleaning products is the best way to keep your house clean, and your health protected. 

*(the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme or NICNAS)

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