“Natural” Doesn’t Mean It’s A Non Toxic CleanerThat’s because there are no federal regulations that dictate standards for products labeled as “natural”. In addition, manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to disclose all of their products’ ingredients on their packaging labels. This makes it very hard to know what’s hiding in your so-called “natural” cleaner, and in fact, many cleaners labeled as “natural” contain toxic fragrances, dyes, preservatives, allergens & irritants. Many of these products contain botanical-based ingredients like thymol that sound safe but that are actually known allergens.
Learn How to Sniff Out Toxic IngredientsSo what should you look for? First, look for specificity. Many manufacturers use vague terms that can hide all sorts of toxic ingredients. For example “fragrance” can actually mean a toxic cocktail of more than 100 toxic ingredients, because fragrances are considered “trade secrets”. Fragrances are linked to a shocking number of health risks. Across multiple research studies, fragrance chemicals have been classified as hormone disruptors, asthmagens, allergens, neurotoxins & carcinogens. An example are phthalates, which are the chemicals used to make scents last longer in cleaners, personal care, skin care & even baby products. Health risks for phthalates include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects & respiratory problems. These toxic villains are nearly impossible to avoid because manufacturers are not required to list them on ingredient labels. The only way to be sure you’re avoiding them is by choosing fragrance-free products. We have more bad news, which is that so-called “natural fragrances” can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances. That’s because there is no federal safety criteria for what a “natural fragrance” is, and even natural fragrances can cause allergic reactions. Other vague descriptions to watch for are “surfactants“ or “preservatives”, where the lack of specificity means you can’t easily research the ingredients yourself.
- Preservatives are an area you’ll definitely want to learn about, because there are several you’ll want to avoid that we go into detail on here. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) & methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) are very common in natural cleaners, and the health risks have caused their use to be restricted in Canada, the EU & Japan.
- Surfactants are another group of chemicals to watch for – these ingredients create the suds that give you the perception that a product is cleaning. You’ll want to skip sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) given its link to skin & eye irritation, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption & ecotoxicology. And the manufacturing of SLS & sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) lead to a highly toxic & carcinogenic by-product called 1,4 dioxane.