Cleaning productsHow to avoid endocrine disruptors
Some cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals – including endocrine disruptors – that could affect your health. You clean your home not just so that it looks good but also for hygiene and health reasons. It would be a shame, then, if the very products you’re using are damaging to your health. Here’s what you can do.
Buy fewer cleaning products
Limit your exposure to harmful chemicals by reducing the number of different cleaning products you use. This will reduce the range of chemicals you may be exposed to.
Be sure to use products that are proportionate to the job at hand – for day-to-day cleaning you can keep your house clean with hot water and a mild soap.
Instead of buying cleaning products, consider making your own from simple ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, sodium bicarbonate and castile soap. Here’s a recipe for a home-made, general-purpose cleaning fluid that’s good for kitchen and bathroom surfaces, ovens and mirrors.
½ cup vinegar
¼ cup bicarbonate of soda
2 litres water
Mix the ingredients in a bucket, and decant into a spray bottle. Store and keep.
You can find more recipes for home-made cleaning fluids at Friends of the Earth’s website.
Buy greener cleaning products
Opt for cleaning products made without certain chemicals.
When buying cleaning products, here are some tips to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals:
Look for products with ecolabels
Ecolabelling is a voluntary method of certifying and labelling products that meet certain environmental standards. They are verified by an independent third-party and are a handy way of identifying products that are environmentally friendly and good quality.
Look out for these logos:
EU Ecolabel: The EU Ecolabel can be found on products manufactured across Europe.
Blue Angel: A certification primarily used in Germany.
Nordic Swan: A certification primarily used in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland).
Green Seal: Green Seal is a certification primarily used in the United States.
Avoid products with triclosan or triclocarban
Triclosan is a chemical often added to cleaning products for its anti-microbial properties. It has been found to have hormone-disrupting properties. Triclocarban is a chemical similar to triclosan, and so there are some similar concerns about its impact on human health. Some brands such as Unilever have chosen to remove triclosan or triclocarban from their products, but it may still be in other products. Both triclosan and triclocarban should be included in ingredients lists, but you can also find out more information on a manufacturer’s website or you can contact them directly. As a rule it’s best to avoid products labelled as having anti-microbial properties.
Avoid products with synthetic fragrances
These may be called “parfum” or “perfume” in ingredient lists. The manufacturer is not required to list which chemicals are included in the fragrance, and these may include harmful substances such as phthalates. Such fragrances are often included in laundry products; but it is possible to find fragrance-free alternatives.
Avoid air fresheners
Air fresheners often contain synthetic fragrances which may include harmful chemicals. Open windows to get fresh air into your house, or try making your own natural air freshener.
Dust and endocrine disruptors
Hazardous chemicals are present not only in cleaning products; they can also build up in household dust. Keeping your home as dust-free as you can should reduce your potential exposure. Here are three ways of reducing your risk:
- Vacuum and dust with a damp cloth frequently to prevent the build-up of dust. Simply using a cloth dampened with water avoids adding to the amount of harmful chemicals in your home. Avoid using a dry cloth or mop, as these can simply move dust around rather than get rid of it.
- Ventilate your home by opening windows when you can. This will help prevent the build-up of chemicals in the air and dust inside the home.
- Consider getting rid of carpets. Carpets can contain harmful chemicals, and collect household dust. See our guide to avoiding endocrine disruptors in carpets for more information.