Unacceptable Chemicals - Household Cleaning Products

Goals

To have a list built of unacceptable chemicals in household cleaning. Specifically to understand what chemicals are included and excluded from cleaning products that have an environmental angle, and are marketed as environmentally safe. These cleaning products can include, but not be limited to, spray window cleaner, spray all-purpose surface cleaners, hand soap, and dish soap. An ideal response would be a list of ingredients that eco-friendly companies don't use, and additionally, what chemicals large traditional consumer packaged goods (CPG) cleaning brands are moving away from or have never used.

Early Findings

  • Companies know that consumers increasingly prefer to buy products from brands that are environmentally friendly over brands that are not. According to a Nielsen report, 66 percent of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands, and that number continues to rise.
  • Phthalates, triclosan, and ammonia in dish soap, detergents in household glass cleaners all negatively affect the health of users. The chemicals we absorb through our skin and by breathing them in cause both short and long term issues.
  • Formaldehyde can be found in some heavy-duty cleaning products. It has been connected with the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that slowly eliminates the brain’s ability to control the body. It can also cause damage to the nervous system in different ways than ALS does. In some cases, it can shift the balance of chemicals in the brain, which may lead to depression, mood swings, headaches, insomnia, irritability, and attention deficit.
  • A common ingredient in multi-purpose cleaners and window sprays is 2-Butoxyethanol. It has a sweet and light floral scent. It is a glycol ether solvent that helps break down dirt and oil. Long term exposure to 2-butoxyethanol can cause high-grade liver and kidney damage, narcosis, and pulmonary edema.
  • Ingredients such as 1,4-dioxane, diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), sodium laureth sulfate, and PEG compounds are known carcinogens linked to organ toxicity. They are used in cleaning products that create suds (shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, laundry detergent).
  • The American Lung Association recommends limiting your exposure to ammonia and chlorine bleach, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be released from different cleaning products, such as some air fresheners, dry cleaning chemicals, and oven cleaners.
  • Other ingredients to avoid, according to Environmental Working Group (EWG): quaternium-15 and quaternium-24, and sulfuric acid.
  • Scrubbing down shower tiles with products that contain sodium hypochlorite could come with health consequences according to The Environmental Working Group. It could cause respiratory issues or eye and skin irritation if you don’t use it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Furniture polishes contains hydrocarbons, an ingredient that can be extremely poisonous according to MedlinePlus. "If you accidentally breathe in or swallow liquid furniture polish, you may experience low blood pressure, confusion, vomiting, or even a coma. If the product touches your eyes or skin, you could have burns or vision loss."
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our first hour of research found 15 unacceptable chemicals in household cleaning.
  • Our focus was the United States for this research.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

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