Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: Household cleaners

By Elle Storoe

Most of us clean our house by using cleaning products. But do we know what is in those cleaning products? We like to assume that the cleaners we use for our home are safe, however most are not. Inhaling, ingesting, and touching some of these toxic chemicals can cause severe injury, and even death. When choosing cleaning products for your home, we can look for these toxic chemicals on the packages of cleaning products. Chemicals such as bleach, ethylene glycol, ammonia, Phthalates, Sodium Hydroxide, phosphorous, and others, can be extremely toxic. 

Knowing what chemicals to look for can help us avoid harmful cleaning products. Not only are toxic chemicals in the cleaning products bad for us as humans, but they are even worse for our pets. Chemicals such as bleach, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, chemical compounds with the word “phenol”, and products with strong odors, are toxic to your pets. 

What is even worse is that all these toxic chemicals can end up in the ocean. We use chemicals to clean toilets, sinks, and other appliances, and the chemicals are eventually washed down the drain and, not all, but some end up in our oceans. This can be harmful to marine life, and even affect our beaches. 

The plastic bottles that the cleaning products are packaged in are also bad for the environment. Once the bottle is empty, it gets thrown away. We then buy another plastic bottle, to once again throw away when it’s empty; it’s a vicious cycle. Even though companies that create the cleaners designed some of the bottles to be disposable and recyclable, most are just thrown away.

We all probably know that the cleaning products we use are made by major manufacturers. The chemical plants could be thousands of miles away from our nearest grocery store. Just getting your household cleaning products to our nearest grocery store can impact the environment greatly. The transportation methods used, such as boats, plains and trains, can greatly affect the environment. (Check out my other column entry on travel, which can be found here

How to help:

Now that we know what the toxic chemicals are, we can avoid it when choosing our next cleaning products. When we are done with the bottle, instead of just throwing it away we can put it in the recycle bin. We can also look for cleaning solutions in better packaging that is biodegradable, or more easily recycled. We can also choose to create our own cleaning products, without using all the toxic chemicals.