household cleaning products

4 Ways to Clean Your House without Polluting Your Air

A new study reveals high levels of air pollutants in household cleaning products, but you can clean just as well with nontoxic alternatives.

4 Ways to Clean Your House without Polluting Your Air

The ingredient lists on some cleaning products are so misleading, you'd be better off without them.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Cleaning-product manufacturers have long benefited from government protections that exempt them from publishing ingredients lists on their labels, under the logic that their formulations are "trade secrets," which is why many of those labels list innocuous-sounding components like "odor eliminator" or "fragrance." As a result, it's hard to know what's really in the cleansers you use—and what those secret ingredients could be doing to the air you breathe in your home.

The nonprofit advocacy Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 21 cleaners used in schools, including a few that are also sold for household use. They sent products used in 13 California school districts to an air-quality lab, where levels of air pollutants were checked after the products were used according to instructions. Among the 21 tested cleaners were four household cleaning products that you may have underneath your kitchen sink.

Here are the test results for those four cleaners, and some alternative cleaning strategies that will leave you with clean indoor air instead of a hazy fog of pollutants:

#1: Febreze Air Effects (Hawaiian Aloha)

Ingredients listed on the bottle: Odor eliminator, water, fragrance, nonflammable natural propellant, quality-control ingredients.

What EWG found: 89 air contaminants, including ethyl acetate (toxic to the brain and nervous system), acetaldehyde (a known respiratory irritant and possible human carcinogen), and butylated hydroxytoluene (a preservative that's toxic to the immune system and suspected of interfering with hormones). "We were very concerned about this, given the large number of air contaminants detected, many of which haven't been tested and we don't know what they do to us," says Rebecca Sutton, PhD, an environmental chemist and senior scientist at EWG, who authored the report.

What to do about it: Fix the source of the odor, rather than masking it with a cloud of hormone-disrupting chemicals that may or may not bear any resemblance to a Hawaiian aloha. Household air could be musty because of a leaky pipe, and that stench in the closet could be sweaty gym shoes. To get rid of tough kitchen odors, boil a pot of water with some orange peels, cloves, and cinnamon sticks and leave it simmering on the stove for a while (it could freshen up your whole ground floor). Or try one of these autumn air-freshener ideas from


Published on: November 11, 2009

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I think we need to bring more

I think we need to bring more ideas for this purpose. Involvement of young people can be handy in this regard. I am happy to find a good post here.

What cleaning products can

What cleaning products can you recommend me for a double sink vanity? You know so much about cleaning products for household and I think that you are the right person to ask advice from. Looking forward to hearing from you back.

Never Knew

Some of these products have become so widely used, that it is quite hard to wean ourselves off them. I never knew that were so many hidden pollutants in those air fresheners and cleaners. This makes me wonder if my blocked nose were caused by any of them. Like it said in the article, it is time to find ways to clean our houses without polluting the air.

There is little excuse

There is little excuse for home makers to use toxic chemicals in their home. Cleaning is a chore, but when you add toxic chemicals you are creating an environment that is just a step away from illness.


Cleaning your house

Toxic cleaning products are bad for our health although they are best known for their efficacy. I am pretty sure that no one will quit using them too soon, since they are the easiest way to make our house look clean. There are many things around us that put our health in major risk but unfortunately we can’t avoid most of them. I think we will keep doing the old style cleaning: toxic solutions, mopping, garbage bags full of trash that give us no choice but calling junk removal Maryland to get rid of them. Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

L. Burchell

me like all natural

Watt can i say i rely really like your site Aaron DelSignore it s got everything
can you give me some advice about cleaning the furniture sa the wood can stand out like it is new

Toxic products

Oh please of course theses products laden with chemicals are toxic. Do you really think they would admit to it thus costing the industry billions of dollors not to mention jobs!!

4 ways to clean your house without polluting your air

Several years ago I used Oust spray to "freshen" downstairs rooms, within using the product several times I noticed my dog and cat were losing hair and becoming lethargic. I contacted SC Johnson and they told me that Oust wouldn't do that to animals. When consulting my Vet, he said "this perhaps could be true". I sent SC Johnson a copy of the vet bill and a letter stating that I believed their product was why my pets were sick and they sent me a check for the amount of the vet bill. On the back of the check was a contract(?) that stated if I cashed it, they would not be held accountable for any other services for my pets. Silence (I believe) is golden for their company.

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