three abmer bottles on a stool


There is a concoction of chemicals present in cleaning products that are harmful both to us and the planet, here are Toxic Ingredients Hiding In Your Cleaning Closet and How To Spot Them.

I have broken this list down and tried to make it simple to follow. A lot of the time the actual ingredients are not listed on the bottle and that’s because legally, in Canada, companies are not required to label their produce. So, in many cases, you just don’t know. I hope this simple & quick guide helps.

2-BE, also known as butyl cellosolve: Found in glass cleaners, laundry stain removers, carpet cleaners, automobile cleaners, windshield wiper fluid, degreasers, oven cleaners, and rust removers. Can cause reproductive problems. Health Canada identified indoor air and skin contact with cleaning products as the main pathways of exposure.

Coal tar dyes: Found in most types of cleaning products. Contains heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Dyes can cause cancer and metals can harm the nervous system.

Also found in liquid laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, car wash products, de-greasers, dishes soap, oven cleaners, and glass and surface cleaners. These are a type of alcohol that can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxine, a possible human carcinogen that is persistent in the environment.

Chemicals found in most types of cleaning products. More than 3000 chemicals are used in fragrance mixtures. Phthalates are suspected endocrine disrupters associated with reproductive effects, including reduced sperm count in men. The European Union classifies DBP as very toxic to aquatic organisms.

Found in liquid laundry detergents, stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, degreasers, and car wash products. Estrogen mimic and causes adverse reproductive effects in fish and other aquatic organisms.

Found in dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents, and bathroom cleaners. Affects aquatic life terribly.

Found in bathroom cleaning products, all-purpose cleaners, fabric softeners, and degreasers. Linked to asthma and reproductive issues. It’s also incredibly toxic to aquatic life.

spraying a cleaner onto a sponge
Silica powder: Found in abrasive cleaning powders. A known carcinogen that is harmful when inhaled.

Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate: Found in toilet bowl cleaners, deodorizers, surface cleaners, and disinfectants. In high doses can cause kidney issues, very toxic to aquatic life.

Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye and caustic soda): Found in oven cleaners, bathroom cleaners, disinfectants, drain openers, and toilet bowl cleaners. Highly corrosive; can burn the eyes, skin, and lungs and is a respiratory irritant.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium Laureth sulfate (SLES): Found in dish soap, liquid laundry detergents, cleaning towelettes, and toilet bowl cleaners (as well as sudsy cosmetics). Traces of 1-4 dioxin have been found, a possible human carcinogen.

Triclosan: Found in dish soaps and disinfectants, as well as a wide range of other household products. Look for it listed as an “active ingredient” in antibacterial products. Endocrine disrupts and hormone mimicker. Also, affects water life and ecosystems.

Trisodium nitrilotriacetate: Found in bathroom cleaners and possibly some laundry detergents (more common in industrial formulations). Possible human carcinogen and linked to metals found in fish and other wildlife.

I’ve also got a similar guide up to help you reduce toxins in your beauty routine. 


Toxic Ingredients Hiding In Your Cleaning Closet


Candice Batista

Candice Batista is an award winning Environmental Journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets, where she has used her background in environmental studies and media & communications to produce and report on various environmental and climate issues for primarily television and digital audiences including Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Weather Network, CityTV, Rogers Television, The Pet Network, iChannel, and CTV, where she is currently the National Eco Expert for the stations number 1 daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
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