Anyone who says they revel in cleaning their home is probably crazy or lying, right? Unless you’re the kind of person that enjoys getting down on all fours to scrub behind the toilet, then cleaning is most likely at the bottom of the barrel. But, we all have to put in some consistent elbow grease to keep our homes spick and span using household cleaners that take the edge off this tedious task.
While giving your bathrooms and kitchen a refreshing floral or pine fragrance may seem appealing, using a barrage of scented household cleaning products could be detrimental to your health. Contrary to the rigorous quality control and testing that occurs when food undergoes FDA inspection, a surface spray or toilet bowl cleaner may not be as safe as they purport.
So, can using these cleaning products no matter how sparingly, negatively impact your health? If using your usual cleaners isn’t an option, how can you maintain a germ-free home? Well, keep reading to gain some insight into generic household cleaners, including the tricks for substituting with natural cleaning products.
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Types of Cleaning Products and Their Functionality
The sheer volume of cleaning products that have littered the market can be overwhelming. But, the truth is, you only need a few simple cleaners to get the job done to perfection. Here is a breakdown of the various types of cleaners and their uses.
1. All-purpose cleaner: Just as the title suggests, an all-purpose cleaner has the uncanny ability to sanitize and clean everything. This ranges from your household appliances, kitchen counters, sinks, and bathroom shower or tub, to your toilet. Moreover, it comes in handy to clean walls, linoleum flooring, and tile backsplash. Some renowned all-purpose cleaners that you could try out are Mrs. Meyers and Clorox.
2. Degreasers: Also known as solvent cleaners, degreasers are a beast in removing grease from surfaces like grill backsplash, kitchen counters, and oven tops. White spirit or methylated spirit is the most common degreaser. But, some food companies are now gravitating more towards non-fuming degreasing alternatives to curb chemical combinations.
3. Detergent: It’s commonly found in commercial settings and homes because it removes tough stains by disintegrating soil or dirt, thus making the cleaning process a walk in the park. Made from petroleum products, you’ll find detergents in the form of crystals, liquid soap, or crystals. Some top detergent brands include Purex and Persil.
4. Acids: As one of the most powerful cleaning agents, you should exercise caution when using acids because with incorrect use, they can be quite destructive. Acids are typically used to de-scale dishwashers, remove rust from restrooms or a toilet bowl, and get rid of mineral deposits. Some examples include Milliard Citric Acid, Duda Energy Hydrochloric Acid, Duda Energy Phosphoric Acid, and FDC Pure Oxalic Acid Powder.
5. Abrasives: They’re harsh chemicals or substances that depend on scrubbing or vigorous rubbing action to clean hard surfaces. In commercial kitchens, abrasives come in handy in cleaning floors and utensils like stainless steel pots, pans. Examples of top abrasive cleaners are Frosch Natural Lemon Scouring Cream Cleaner, Weiman Glass Cook Top Cleaner, and POWERTEC Abrasive Cleaning Stick.
What are the Essential Ingredients to Look for in Cleaning Products?
There is no shortage of products like vinegar solution spray, warm soapy water, or essential oil that is efficient in cleaning hard surfaces. Nevertheless, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that these products effectively disinfect a surface from contaminants like norovirus, coronavirus, and influenza.
Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to the active ingredients in your cleaning supplies. The CDC and FDA recommend the following ingredients found in the best cleaning products that kill most bacteria and viruses.
- Isopropyl alcohol (60 percent to 90 percent)
- Ethanol alcohol (60 percent to 90 percent)
- Sodium hypochlorite
- Quaternary Ammonium
- Hydrogen peroxide
The Recommended Use of Cleaning Products
1. Follow instructions: According to the CDC, it’s crucial to follow the directions outlined on cleaning products to successfully disinfect an area. Failure to so, particularly when mixing the different ingredient quantities and waiting for the solution to do its job, you may not sterilize the area. Increasing the ingredient quantity than advised can have repercussions like damaged surfaces.
Always follow the recommended safety protocols, like avoiding contact with your face and wearing gloves.
2. Storage: An array of ingredients found in disinfectant cleaning products degrades or expires with time, particularly if you store them incorrectly. Before using any cleaning disinfectant or making one from scratch, check for an expiry date by reading the manufacturer’s ‘best by’ information on the label. Doing so will also inform you of the product’s ideal storage condition, which includes avoiding exposure to direct sunlight and storing it in optimal room temperature.
3. Take caution: Unless the CDC or manufacturer recommends it, avoid mixing cleaning product ingredients because they’re hazardous and can produce toxic chemicals. Below is a list of everyday cleaning products that shouldn’t mix.
- Toilet bowl cleaner and bleach
- Rubbing alcohol and bleach
- Bleach and vinegar
- Ammonia and bleach
- White vinegar and hydrogen peroxide
Why Are Household Cleaners So Important?
The greatest perk that comes with using the best household cleaners is that they kill germs that suppress your immune system, which ushers in illness. Consistently using the best disinfectant can kill up to 99.99 percent of daily germs. It also kills viruses like coronavirus and norovirus, thus keeping your family healthy. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that cleaning a surface isn’t the same as disinfecting it to kill bacteria and viruses.
Typically, you need to clean a surface with generic soap and water or a cleaning solution before you can effectively disinfect it. For instance, if you bake brownies, your kitchen counter is coated with powdered sugar, eggs, and other essential ingredients. So, you’ll want to wipe down the surface with a soapy cleaning solution and microfiber cloth to get rid of the visible dirt. A bleach solution will then come in handy to kill any lingering bacteria or germs left on the non-porous countertop.
The same applies to any surface that an ill person, for instance, someone with coronavirus, may have come in contact with. You’ll want to put on some gloves to wipe down the grime on the surface then sterilize it using a disinfectant. Doing so also prevents the spread of coronavirus at home because it can survive on surfaces like cardboard for 24 hours and two to three days on stainless steel and plastic.
Do House Cleaning Products Pose a Danger to Children?
While household cleaners kill germs and serve as a magic eraser of stubborn stains, they contain harsh ingredients that can be detrimental to your child’s health in the following ways.
- Eye irritation: The fumes that some strong household cleaners emit can irritate children’s eyes, causing watering and redness. If splashed directly into a child’s eyes, it can cause adverse damage.
- Allergies: Studies show that having an excessively clean home can boost the long-term risk of a child developing allergies. It’s known as the hygiene hypothesis. Failure to expose a child to germs hinders the proper development of their immune system. Therefore, this triggers hypersensitivity to harmless allergens like dander or pollen.
- Poisoning: Vibrantly colored or ‘sparkly’ cleaning products that draw attention to curious kids can cause adverse repercussions like death if consumed. Therefore, storing these products out of children’s reach could save you a trip to the emergency room.
What are the Toxic Cleaning Products to Avoid?
You’re unknowingly and routinely exposed to cleaning products that contain an array of toxic chemicals, which can be detrimental to your health. So, we’ve rounded up some of the harmful ingredients to look out for in these products.
- Phthalates: A barrage of fragranced household cleaning products like dish soap, toilet paper, floor cleaner, paper towels, hand soap, or laundry detergent, contains phthalates. While a cleaning business won’t unveil the contents of its scented products, if you see the word ‘fragrance’ on a label, there’s a high likelihood of the presence of phthalates.
- 2-butoxyethanol: It’s the main ingredient in window cleaners that gives them their distinctive sweet aroma. 2-butoxyethanol belongs to the family of glycol ethers, which are powerful solvents that cause sore throats, adverse kidney and liver damage, and narcosis when inhaled.
Tips for Choosing the Best Cleaning Products
For most people, cleaning isn’t a hobby, but a must-do. However, some of the ingredients that generic cleaners contain cause asthma, allergies, and other long-term repercussions like cancer and infertility. Luckily, with the tips below to selecting the ideal cleaning products, you don’t have to resign yourself to this fate.
1. Carefully read labels
Refrain from using products that contain signal words like Warning, Poison, or Danger. However, don’t let words like ‘non-toxic,’ ‘eco-friendly,’ and ‘natural’ fool you. Instead, keep an eye out for certified products like those that Design for the Environment endorses.
2. Purchase from companies that provide full disclosure on ingredients
It’s crucial to know the contents of a product to assess its safety. If your go-to products don’t list all the ingredients, get in touch with the company to request for full disclosure.
3. Stay away from unidentified ‘fragrance’ in products and opt for ‘fragrance-free’
Artificial fragrances can cause asthma and hormonal imbalance. As opposed to masking unwanted odors with fragrance, face the source head-on.
4. Stay away from antimicrobial products
If you generally live a healthy lifestyle, then there’s no need for routine disinfection. Frequent cleaning with generic soap and water followed by a good rinse will get rid of microbes and grime. Some of the most common antimicrobial products to avoid are ammonium quaternary compounds and Triclosan.
Chlorine bleach may be an ideal option if necessary but use it minimally. Instructions on how to use antimicrobial products differ. So, follow a product’s outlined directions on dwell time, pre-cleaning, and rinsing for optimal functionality.
5. Implement natural cleaning
You can tackle nearly all cleaning dilemmas by combining three essential ingredients: liquid soap, baking soda, and plain vinegar. You can start with simple, all-purpose DIY green cleaning products like mixing 50:50 of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of uses for this homemade spray.
6. Focus more on safer techniques than depending on disinfectants
Practice safe techniques like using different chopping boards for veggies and meats. And, wash the meat chopping board using a dishwasher or hand wash it separately from your other utensils. Replace your kitchen sponge frequently and wring out to keep it dry. You can also disinfect it weekly by soaking it in boiling water for three to five minutes.
7. Know your options
Below are some of the more effective cleaning products available. You only need to know them, use them, save a few bucks, and you’ll be grateful for the reduced toxic substances in your home.
- Lemon juice: It’s a safe and affordable option for removing grease and lightening stubborn and ugly stains.
- Washing soda: While it’s strikingly similar to baking soda, it’s a more powerful laundry additive.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: It’s a natural option for sinks, showers, soaking toilets, and other mildew or tough-water spots around your home.
- Baking soda: As an all-purpose natural cleaner, baking soda efficiently gets the job done. You can add it to plain vinegar or dish soap then put some elbow grease to a nice shine. From tiles, carpet stains, toilets, and pots and pans, baking soda can do it all if you’re looking for an affordable option.
- Castile soap is your friend: Given that castile soap is made from simple and safe plant oils, it’s suitable for all skin types. Its antibacterial property makes it a better option for those that are looking to avoid an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that leaves their hands dry and flaky.
Where To Buy Cleaning Products: Our Recommendations
Like many essential products, most local stores and pharmacies are sold out of cleaning products. Luckily, Essential Goods keeps an updated list of cleaning products and shows you when they’re back in stock on Amazon. You can check them out below and sign up to our site to receive notifications on when products are back in stock.