Chemicals to Avoid in Household Cleaners

Chemicals to Avoid in Household Cleaners

Sarah Coffey
Mar 10, 2008

We picked up a copy of the National Geographic Green Guide at the grocery store, in part for their list of chemicals to avoid in household cleaners. This week during the Cure, we're taking a closer look at green cleaning supplies, which means deciding what we do and don't want in our homes...

Chemicals to Avoid According to National Geographic's Green Guide:

Ammonia: cuts grease
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum and known to cause asthma
Green Alternative: vinegar

Chlorine: disinfects
Why Avoid It: lung and skin irritant, lethal if ingested, releases mercury
Green Alternative: vinegar, lemon juice, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil

Monoethanolamine: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum, irritates respiratory system
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

Glycol Ethers: dissolve soil
Why Avoid It: causes nerve damage and infertility, air contaminant
Green Alternative: water, eucalyptus oil

Alkylphenol Ethoxylates: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

Phthalates: synthetic fragrances
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: baking soda deodorizers, essential oils

Triclosan: disinfectant in antibacterial cleaners
Why Avoid It: forms possible carcinogen, builds up in soil and fish
Green Alternative: vinegar, hot soapy water

For tips on which green cleaners to buy, check out the National Geographic Green Product Guide here.

Image via Morguefile

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