Cleanliness is an essential part of human life. Keeping your home and surroundings clean is one of the best ways to protect your health and reduce the risk of communicable diseases.

Unfortunately, most cleaning products are formulated with many harmful ingredients. Numerous studies show that these chemicals not only have harmful effects on human health, but also cause damage to the environment.

Today, many cleaning products, from household disinfectants to dishwasher and laundry detergents, are advertised as "natural" or "green" even though they contain toxic ingredients. Many people fall for these false advertisements because the law does not require manufacturers to list all the chemicals they use in their products.

Here are 5 harmful ingredients you may not know are hiding in the cleaning products you use in your home:


Phthalates are found literally everywhere. This family of industrial chemicals is used in soaps, detergents, air fresheners, personal care products, medical devices, and even cosmetics. [1]

The best known use for phthalates is in plasticizers. Manufacturers use these chemicals to make flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, which are made into containers and packaging films. Phthalates are also used as solvents in perfumes, personal hygiene products, and commonly used cleaning products. [2]

But phthalates can damage important organs, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. According to human studies, a phthalate known as di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) can affect the development of male reproductive organs. DEHP is also associated with sperm abnormalities and low testosterone levels. [3]

Phthalates also have a negative effect on the development of unborn children. Research shows that pregnant mothers exposed to high levels of phthalates are at risk of giving birth to children with low IQs and problems with attention, hyperactivity, and social skills. [4] [5]


QUATS are chemicals found in fabric softeners, disinfectant sprays, hand soaps, personal care products and household detergents. According to studies, their chemical properties allow these surfactants to bind to certain microbes and, over time, break down their cell membranes. For this reason, QUATS are among the most commonly used disinfectants in the food industry. [6]

However, scientists have recently expressed concern about the overuse of disinfectants, especially those containing QUATS. A recent study reported that bacterial pathogens are rapidly developing resistance not only to antibiotics but also to commonly used disinfectant products. [7]

Another problem with products containing QUATS is that prolonged use can cause many health problems. In addition to irritating the skin and causing skin rashes, QUATS can also contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems. Animal studies show that exposure to QUATS can also reduce fertility and sperm quality, as well as cause birth defects in newborn mice. [8] [9]


Laundry detergents often contain alkaline compounds that can neutralize acid. These compounds also help remove dirt, stains, and grease from fabrics. As a versatile laundry additive, ammonia is a moderate alkaline commonly used in laundry detergents. In addition to removing stains, ammonia can also help soften and bleach fabrics. [10] [11]

Despite its many uses, ammonia poses significant health risks. If inhaled, this chemical can irritate the respiratory tract and cause serious problems, especially for people with asthma and lung problems. Prolonged contact with ammonia can also cause bronchitis. [12]

Products containing ammonia are also known to irritate the eyes, skin, nose and throat. If ingested, they can cause drowsiness, unconsciousness and death. [13] Watch out for combining ammonia-containing products with bleach-it can cause a toxic gas.


Triclosan is a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, laundry and dishwashing detergents, hand sanitizers, toothpastes, cosmetics, and other cleaning products. [14] It was originally created for use in hospital settings, but because of its antimicrobial properties, triclosan has since been included in many consumer products.

A known endocrine disruptor, this chemical can interfere with the function of certain hormones that act directly on the brain. Triclosan can also adversely affect the immune and reproductive systems. [15][16] In addition, triclosan is an environmental contaminant declared toxic to marine life by the European Union and Canada. Not only is this harmful chemical present in many waterways in the United States, but it is also said to be present in the environment and to accumulate to toxic levels within the human body.


Like phthalates, 1,4-dioxane is commonly used as a solvent in the manufacture of cosmetics, detergents and personal care products such as shampoos. It is described as a clear liquid with a faint, pleasant odor. However, 1,4-dioxane is a synthetic petrochemical and a toxic contaminant that can harm humans and the environment. [17]

Most commercial dishwasher detergents, even those that are supposed to be "all-natural," contain 1,4-dioxane. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1,4-dioxane can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin. Inhalation or exposure to high levels of this chemical can also cause poisoning. [18]

Symptoms of 1,4-dioxane poisoning include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness and drowsiness. Severe cases of poisoning have resulted in kidney and liver damage, coma and death. In addition to being toxic to humans, 1,4-dioxane has been identified as a carcinogen. Researchers found that exposure to 1,4-dioxane increased the incidence of liver and gallbladder cancer in animal studies.


Taken from an article by Ana S