Q: I have been using Comet for cleaning my tri-ply cookware and the stove. But right from the day one, I have had this nagging feeling to check if this product was eco-friendly. Any idea on that? If it is not, what other eco-friendly options do I have?
Sent by Sudha
Editor: Sudha, unfortunately, we don't think Comet is a very healthy cleaning product. While the packaging does contain at least 75% recycled material (minimum 50% post-consumer), and it claims the surfactants are biodegradable and the product contains no phosphates, what's almost of greater concern are the potential health threats.
Most of Comet's cleaners contain some combination of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and/or sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (a division of the Department of Health and Human Services), sodium hydroxide "is very corrosive and can cause severe burns in all tissues that it comes in contact with. Sodium hydroxide poses a particular threat to the eyes, since it can hydrolyze protein, leading to severe eye damage."
Inhalation of sodium hydroxide (most common when you're cleaning in small spaces like bathrooms) "is immediately irritating to the respiratory tract. Swelling or spasms of the larynx leading to upper-airway obstruction and asphyxia can occur after high-dose inhalation. Inflammation of the lungs and an accumulation of fluid in the lungs may also occur." Likewise, regarding bleach, the "solutions and vapors are irritating and corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Ingestion and skin contact produces injury to any exposed tissues. Exposure to gases released from hypochlorite may cause burning of the eyes, nose, and throat; cough as well as constriction and edema of the airway and lungs can occur."
So... we think there are better options.
Here are a few posts to get you started on some healthier cleaning tools and products:
• 25 DIY Green Cleaning Recipes for the Whole House
• 18 Green Cleaning Posts You Might Have Missed 2011
• 30 Green Cleaning Posts You Might Have Missed 2010
Got a good question you'd like answered? Email us and we'll see if the Re-nest editors or our readers can help you out. Photos are always appreciated! Read more Good Questions here!
(Image: Ad Classix. Originally published 2010-05-04)