Did you know there are actually no federal regulations on cleaning products? Since they aren’t considered to be food, beverages or drugs intended to be digested, they aren’t required to be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With this said, the EPA does require manufacturers to list ingredients that can be harmful. As a homeowner, I would guess I’m not the only one that hasn’t carefully dissected every ingredient on a toilet bowl cleaner before buying it.
Having said all of this, for our weekly blog post, we wanted to discuss something that isn’t as technical in plumbing terms, but definitely something useful for all homeowners. This topic we’ll be breaking down is the concept of eco-friendly household cleaners!
What’s Found in Household Products?
First and foremost, it’s important to know what toxins are hiding in those household cleaning products. As homeowners, we assume all of the ingredients are safe, but that’s not always the case. Here’s a few common ones that are potentially dangerous:
- Phthalates: You actually won’t find phthalates on a label, but rather if you see the word “fragrance,” then it probably has phthalates in it. Phthalates is found primarily in fragranced products, including air fresheners and dish soap. The health risk it presents is as an endocrine disruptor.
- Perchloroethylene: Next up, we have an ingredient that the EPA classifies as a potential carcinogen. This toxin, also referred to as Perc, is mostly found in various dry-cleaning solutions and carpet cleaners. With a wide array of health risks, including dizziness, the EPA has worked to eliminate all Perc machines that exist in residential buildings and eventually this might include all Perc machines in general!
- 2-Butoxyethanol: This is another product that’s not required to be displayed on a cleaning product’s label. It’s found in window cleaners and responsible for creating that refreshing scent. However, at the same time, if it happens to be inhaled, it can actually cause sore throats and potentially kidney damage.
- Sodium Hydroxide: Found in a lot of oven cleaners, this product can cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. Another term used for this ingredient is lye.
Not to scare you from taking another trip to Wal-Mart, but this is just scratching the surface of the weird (and harmful!) ingredients that can be in common household cleaning products. The frightening part about some of these is the fact that manufacturers aren’t required to list all of them on the label! Some others not shown above include Triclosan (in dishwashing detergents), Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (in fabric softeners), Ammonia (in polishing agents) and so much more!
What Should I Use?
Just knowing which ingredients can be potentially dangerous doesn’t help you too much when you realize that nearly all of the products contain them! Being homeowners ourselves, we’re always on the lookout for eco-friendly products and have a few recommendations for you to try out! Keep in mind that these eco-friendly products don’t contain any of the ingredients from above and not only will keep you safer, but also are much healthier for the environment.
Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner: This product is certified by the EPA’s “Design for the Environment” program. Utilizing Method’s “Powergreen” technology, it’s continually recognized as one of the most eco-friendly products. As stated on their website, it takes care of “99.9% of household germs (specifically: influenza A, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella enterica and E. coli).”
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Bathroom Cleaner: From dish soap to everyday cleaners and much more, Mrs. Meyer’s is known for providing a wide variety of eco-friendly products. Their original founder had a strong passion for creating products that not only smell fresh, but also make sense for the environment. This particular bathroom cleaner, along with the rest of their cleaners, are made primarily with plant-based ingredients and essential oils. What makes Mrs. Meyer’s particularly unique is their willingness to be open with each and every ingredient used in their products. On their website, they come right out and say what ingredients are included and what purpose those serve. Included on this page is a simple statement that says a lot! “Our products do not contain ammonia, chlorine, glycol solvents, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colorants, phosphates or petroleum distillates.” Any of those words sound familiar?
Lemi Shine Multi-Use Machine Cleaner: This eco-friendly product is designed for cleaning the interiors of various appliances. Right on the box, you’ll see it’s powered by 100% citric extracts. However, Lemi Shine goes much further as a brand to proclaim its commitment to producing eco-friendly products. Their underlying principle that they operate under is as follows: “If an ingredient isn’t safe, we don’t go near it. Instead, we go to great lengths to discover and use ingredients that are safer and get the job done better.” Additionally, they’ve been working with the EPA to get all of their products certified under the Safer Choice designation.
With most of these cleaners, a key tip to keep in mind is that it’s not always the particular product itself to look out for, but the brand/manufacturer as a whole. Once a company takes the initiative to commit to eco-friendly practices, they generally take this approach across all of their other product lines as well. Just look at the websites for each of the companies above. Being eco-friendly is simply a part of the company mission statement and core values.
DIY Homemade Cleaners
This first do-it-yourself cleaner is a simple one that will take no time to set up and put to use.
- 1 can of Coca Cola
- 1 cup of baking soda
- 1 cup of white distilled vinegar
Start off by dumping the cola in the toilet and leave it there for about ten minutes before flushing. Next, toss in the baking soda and vinegar in the toilet. Wait until it starts bubbling and then flush. And that’s it! Unless you have some serious stains, you shouldn’t need to do any scrubbing at all!
Next up, we have an awesome recipe that comes from Live Simply Blog.
- 2 cups of warm water
- 1 tbsp of baking soda
- 2 tbsp of castile soap
- 30 drops of tea tree essential oil
- 20 drops of sweet orange essential oil
- 16 oz spray bottle
Once you’ve gathered all of the ingredients, the instructions are very simple! Pour the warm water and baking soda into the bottle and shake them together. Then, add the remaining ingredients and shake to blend. All of a sudden, you have a bottle full of a cleaner capable of being used on a variety of surfaces!
Have a Go-To Homemade Cleaner?
If you have used anything in the past that seems to work well and is easy to use, let us know in the comments. We’re always on the lookout for new suggestions!
Need Some More Advice?
As Kansas City plumbers, we love to provide assistance anywhere we can! Of course, that always starts with resolving any plumbing issues as quickly as possible and ensuring homeowners don’t have to call another plumber out for the same issues. However, we also enjoy giving out recommendations on how you can avoid similar problems from occurring a year or two down the road. Whether that be best practices for maintaining your hot water heater or tips on what can and can’t be flushed down your garbage disposal, we’re here to help! If you ever need any assistance, don’t hesitate to fill out the form on our website or give us a call at 816-348-3481.