Balanced Living

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Are Household Cleaners Harmful?

cleaning supplies

It's no secret that almost all conventional household cleaners contain some toxic ingredients. Many contain carcinogens or suspected carcinogens, as well. However, the danger the chemicals pose really depends on how often you use the products in which they're found and the length of time you're exposed to the fumes. Some of the effects are unpleasant but transient. Here's a list of some of the common chemicals found in household products and the symptoms they can cause.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for a Healthy Home - Good health begins in the home. From healthful meals and family communication to pleasant and welcoming surroundings, a healthy home is a vital part of graceful aging. Learn more - sign up for your free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging today.
  • Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite): If mixed with ammonia, vinegar or other acid-based cleaners, it will release toxic chloramine gas; short-term exposure to this gas can cause mild asthmatic symptoms or more serious respiratory problems. Never mix bleach with these other substances.
  • Petroleum distillates: Found in metal polishes, these chemicals can irritate the eyes and lungs; longer-term exposure can damage the nervous system, kidneys, eyes and skin.
  • Ammonia: Can irritate eyes and lungs and cause headaches.
  • Phenol and cresol: Found in disinfectants, and if ingested can cause diarrhea, fainting, dizziness, and kidney and liver damage.
  • Nitrobenzene: Found in furniture and floor polishes, and if inhaled can cause shallow breathing; if ingested can cause poisoning and death. This substance has also been linked to cancer and birth defects.
  • Formaldehyde: Used as a preservative in many household products, formaldehyde is a suspected human carcinogen that can irritate your eyes, throat, skin and lungs.
  • Naphthalene: Found in mothballs, this suspected carcinogen may damage the eyes, blood cells, liver, kidneys, skin and the central nervous system.
  • Paradichlorbenzene: Another chemical in mothballs, can harm the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
  • Hydrochloric acid or sodium acid sulfate: Found in toilet bowl cleaners, these chemicals can burn the skin and cause blindness if splashed in the eyes, or can burn the stomach if ingested.

To learn more about the hazards of chemicals in common household products, I suggest visiting, the Web site of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA advises buying only nontoxic, unscented cleaning products such as those that can be found from mail-order sources or in health-food stores. Another possibility is to substitute gentler products such as baking soda, vinegar, salt and vegetable oil-based liquid soap for most household cleaning.


The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here