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5 Things to Avoid for Safer Cleaning

5 Things to Avoid for Safer Cleaning — Meliora Cleaning Products

Cleaning is already a chore, so it’s understandable that it feels like an extra burden to research and choose products that are better for you and the environment. Cleaning products can contain thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to be harmful to people and the environment. Swapping the products you use is the best way to avoid toxic ingredients, but these days there are so many options, many of which claim to be the easiest, cheapest, safest, or greenest. So how are you supposed to choose?

Ingredients are the best place to start. Here are five things we recommend you avoid to get started cleaning without harsh chemicals:

1. Cleaning products with undisclosed ingredients

If there is no ingredient list, don’t buy it! The companies that make cleaning products know what’s in them, and you should too. Ingredients have a direct impact on your health, as many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals.

Listing the ingredients used in cleaning products should be the bare minimum. Unfortunately, there is no federal law in the United States that requires companies to disclose ingredients in cleaning products on their packaging, website, or even when asked directly.

While a 2017 ingredient disclosure law in California has pushed more companies to publish ingredient lists, there is still a long way to go toward full ingredient transparency.

You deserve to know what you’re using in your home, around your friends and family, and eventually putting back into the environment. That’s why we list every ingredient we use on the label of each product and on our website.

If you want to learn more about ingredient safety, here are some of our favorite resources:

  • MADE SAFE® is the only certification program for household products that focuses on both human health and ecosystems. Its mission is to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals from the marketplace to ensure a safe and sustainable future for all.
  • Women’s Voices for the Earth is a nonprofit organization that works to amplify women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and our communities. They’re a leader in ingredient disclosure issues and championed the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act in California.

2. Synthetic or hidden fragrances

Ingredient lists that include “fragrance” or “perfume” do not actually list everything in the product. These are industry terms that represent a blend of undisclosed ingredients. There are over 3,000 fragrance chemicals, and many of them have never been tested for their effect on people and the planet. Some common fragrance ingredients have been linked to health concerns including allergies, reproductive issues, and cancer.

Alternatives to synthetic fragrances

  • Unscented products that do not contain any fragrance ingredients are just as effective as scented products. The purpose of cleaning is to remove dirt, stains, and germs, not just cover them up with synthetic fragrances.
  • Organic essential oils are a plant-derived alternative to synthetic fragrances. When used properly and diluted, most essential oils are safe for most people. However, some people are allergic to essential oils and should avoid products that contain them.

3. Antibacterials

Antibacterials, also known as antimicrobials or antiseptics, are products that contain additional antimicrobial active ingredients such as triclosan. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found no evidence that antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than regular soap and water. Moreover, studies suggested that antimicrobial ingredients pose health risks such as bacterial resistance and hormonal effects.

While the FDA banned antimicrobial ingredients from over-the-counter soaps in 2016, they are still found in home cleaning and personal care products such as disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and toothpaste.

Alternatives to antibacterials

4. Bleach

Chlorine bleach is toxic to both people and the environment. It is a strong eye, skin, and respiratory irritant and can be extremely dangerous when mixed with other chemicals like ammonia and vinegar.

Moreover, bleach is rarely needed in household cleaning. While bleach is a powerful disinfectant, cleaning and disinfecting are not the same, nor are they interchangeable. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), regular cleaning is enough to prevent illness and remove harmful viruses and bacteria. You should only disinfect after cleaning when someone who lives in your home or recently visited is sick.

Sodium hypochlorite is the chemical name for chlorine bleach. In addition to household bleach, it is used as an ingredient in cleaners, disinfectants, laundry detergents, and other home cleaning products.

Alternatives to bleach

  • Regular cleaning with soap and water removes most harmful microbes, according to the CDC.
  • Sodium percarbonate and hydrogen peroxide are bleach alternatives for heavier cleaning, removing stains, and brightening whites.
  • If you do need to disinfect with bleach, be sure to follow these bleach safety guidelines from the CDC.

5. Ammonia

Ammonia is a toxic chemical that causes eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Mixing ammonia with bleach creates chloramine gas, which can be lethal.

Similarly to bleach, ammonia is often used as a heavy-duty cleaner as well as an ingredient in all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and more. It is often listed as ammonium hydroxide, the chemical name for a liquid solution of ammonia and water.

Alternatives to ammonia

  • Regular cleaning with soap and water is effective for most surfaces in your home and removes most harmful microbes.
  • Baking soda is an odor neutralizer and gentle abrasive that works great on hard surfaces like stovetops and toilet bowls.
  • Vinegar is an alternative to ammonia for general cleaning.

Safer cleaning starts with better products

We just reviewed five of the most common and harmful ingredients used in conventional cleaning products. Avoiding products that don’t list their ingredients or contain fragrance blends, antimicrobials, bleach, and ammonia is a great place to start your better cleaning journey.

We know it can be difficult and time-consuming to review every product in your home. We design our products to take the guesswork off your hands. Whether you’re cleaning your home, your clothes, or your skin, we’ve got products to help. All of our cleaning products are made with safer ingredients and eco-friendly packaging with zero single-use plastic. We list every ingredient on the label of every product we make because you deserve to know what’s in the products you use in your home.