7 Hidden Health Dangers of Spring Cleaning

Put down that feather duster! Before you start scrubbing your home from top to bottom, take an inventory of cleaning products you have on hand. Some of the most common cleaning products used in homes could have negative consequences on your health.


One of the most common cleaning toxic cleaning products used around the world is bleach. Bleach can cause many health problems. Regular high exposure could cause asthma and pneumonia and one-time contact to high bleach levels can cause eye irritation, chest pain and burning skin, according to Beyond Toxics. If you must use bleach, it should always be used and stored in a well ventilated area away from any kids. Replacing bleach altogether is possible at home and in many workplaces. Non-chlorine bleach can be used for white laundry and in many cases lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide can be used as a perfectly acceptable alternative to bleach when cleaning your home. Another important thing to know about bleach is that it can be especially dangerous when mixed with other chemicals. Make sure you are practicing safe cleaning habits by avoiding these cleaning products that you should never mix.


There is no question that formaldehyde is not a chemical you want in your home. When checking cleaning product labels, keep an eye out for both formaldehyde and formalin. This chemical is a known carcinogen, according to the Environmental Working Group, an non-profit organization that provides information for creating a healthier living environment. Mrs. Meyers and Earth Friendly are among the most well known formaldehyde-free cleaning product brands and can be found in most major grocery stores.

Borax and boric acid

Most commonly used in laundry detergents, Borax is widely believed to be a safe cleaning product but that actually isn’t true. Some studies have suggested borax and boric acid have lasting, negative effects on libido and fertility in both men and women if they are exposed to high concentrations of this ingredient, according the EWG. Although the United States is still working to make a definite, well-researched decision about safety of borax, the European Union has made up their mind that this is a product to avoid. In place of borax or boric acid, baking soda is a nearly perfect replacement and is considered to be a much safer alternative.


We all love it when our home smells like fresh cotton or a bouquet of flowers but many fragrances aren’t so great for our health. In general, artificial fragrances are often reported to be allergens or irritants, causing wheezing or other respiratory problems or skin irritation. Reactions to fragrances vary from person to person, but it isn’t a bad idea to avoid them altogether since fragrances are considered to be among the top allergens in the world, according to the EWG. In place of scented products, choose unscented or free and clear products. If you love scented products, find a natural way to bring that scent into your home like adding fresh flowers to your dining table. Here’s what your favorite flower says about your personality.


Perhaps the most well known use of ammonia is for cleaning windows and mirrors. This chemical is found in most Windex products along with floor cleaners and waxes. Ammonia is known to be an asthmagen and more recent research has suggested that the ingredient is toxic to the brain with high exposure. Swapping out window cleaners for white vinegar mixed with water is an inexpensive and smart way to protect your health while cleaning your home. If you are looking for more non-toxic cleaning products to try, check out these 13 natural cleaning products.

Quaternary ammonium compounds

Care to say that three times fast? Quaternary ammonium compounds are also called quats and they are known to be asthmagens. Asthmagens are any chemicals that have the potential to cause asthma to develop in healthy individuals. Benzalkonium chloride is among the most common quats and is often found in cleaning products that have an antibacterial component, according to EWG. According to a report released by The Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, at home and in workplaces where the risk of the spread of infection is fairly low, cleaning products with quaternary ammonium compounds can be avoided altogether. In place of antibacterial soap, for WebMD suggests that regular soap is a perfectly acceptable alternative at home.


When you are checking the label of your cleaning products, keep an eye out for monoethanolamine, diethanolamine and triethanolamine. These ethanolamines are surfactants, or a chemical that reduces the surface tension of a liquid. According to EWG, these chemicals are also asthmagens. Unfortunately, ethanolamines are commonly found in cleaning products, including floor and tile cleaners and laundry detergents. If you’re looking to replace a floor cleaner or a detergent, brands like Martha Stewart, Eco-Me, and Babyganics have a high safety rating.

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