What’s in the products you use to clean your home? You might be surprised to learn that some of the products we use to keep our homes clean and healthy can be harmful to our health and to the environment. When no longer wanted, they are considered household hazardous waste.
Commonly used household cleaners:
- mildew remover
- all-purpose cleaner
- tub and tile cleaners
- drain openers
- carpet and upholstery cleaners
- glass cleaners
- laundry products
Why it matters
The chemicals in cleaning products pose a whole range of risks. They can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled when used or ingested as residue left behind on surfaces throughout your home.
You never know what you might get by mixing household cleaners together, but you can be sure it will be harmful to your health. Ingesting even a small amount of a highly-toxic cleaning product puts you at risk for poisoning (this is particularly true for small children and pets). Corrosive products, such as stain removers and chlorine bleach, can burn the skin and eyes. And, long after you’ve used it to whiten laundry or scrub your bathroom tile, the chemicals can still harm marine life and ecosystems.
What you can do
1. Choose safer alternatives
What’s the best way to manage household hazardous waste? Use less. When it comes to household cleaners, there are plenty of options that are better for the environment, and better for you.
- Read labels. There are many less-toxic cleaning products on the market that are much safer for humans, animals and the environment.
- Look for “EcoLogo.” – EcoLogo is a third party certified environmental standard logo for environmentally-preferred products.
- Investigate natural alternatives. Vinegar kills germs, so cleaning with it can help keep your family safe from salmonella, E. coli and many bacterial illnesses while keeping your counters and windows glistening.
Quick and dirty clean-up tips:
- Wipe down your kitchen frequently with warm soapy water or vinegar—before greasy build-up makes you reach for harsher chemicals.
- Wipe up spills fast—especially on fabrics and carpets—before they set.
- Rely more on old-fashioned elbow grease and less on chemical fixes.
- If you must use a harsh chemical cleaner, use as little as possible.
2. Store it safely
Household cleaning products belong in their original, labeled containers. Keep lids tightly secured and out of reach of children. Avoid mixing products together which could cause them to interact with each other creating harmful gases.
3. Dispose of it properly
Have household cleaners that you no longer want to keep? Don’t put them down the drain or with your regular garbage. Regional waste management authorities offer drop-offs and collection events that accept cleaners and other hazardous products from your home. Find your nearest drop-off site.