Are Household Cleaners Toxic?

When shopping for cleaning products, you’ve probably seen warning labels on the bottles and thought to yourself: “Well, that’s weird. Are household cleaners toxic?” And understandably, you might’ve brushed it off. They’re supposed to be removing the bad stuff from your home, so there’s no way they could be harmful themselves, right? 

Often, in order for cleaning products to do their intended job of ridding your home of contaminants, they contain strong chemicals to ensure that when you clean, the germs and microbes in your home are removed. But some of these chemicals are classified as hazardous and can present health and environmental dangers when you use them.

At a time when you’re likelier to be working from home — and cleaning and disinfecting more than you did in the past — it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with the dangers of cleaning products. This way, you’ll know what to avoid.

What are the Chemicals in these Toxic Household Cleaners, Anyway?

It might seem counterintuitive that cleaning products can actually hurt you. But there are certain ingredients at play that you need to be aware of.


Chlorine is an active ingredient present in several common cleaning products. This includes toilet bowl cleaners, whiteners, and mildew removers. This chemical helps to clean swimming pools, drinking water, and sewages because it kills and prevents the growth of bacteria.  

Immediate or prolonged exposure to high concentrations of chlorine can cause a number of side effects. This includes breathing difficulties, coughing and chest tightness, blurry vision and watery eyes, chronic dryness, and long-term respiratory complications.


Formaldehyde is a heavy-duty chemical used in the production of common industrial germicides, fungicides, and disinfectants. In 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized this ingredient as a human carcinogen. 

Short-term effects include watery eyes, burning sensations in the nasal tract, coughing, and wheezing. High or prolonged exposure to this carcinogen has been linked to myeloid leukemia. This is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow produces large numbers of abnormal blood cells.


Perchloroethylene (PERC) is an ingredient found in products that dry clean fabrics and degrease metals. According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), dry cleaning clothes triggers the release of tiny amounts of PERC into the air indoors. Additionally, people who wear dry-cleaned clothes are reported to be exposed to higher levels of PERC than what's in the air. 

There are no reported short-term effects from small amounts of PERC. But exposure to higher levels can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory and central nervous systems. In some severe cases, it can lead to unconsciousness and even death.


Often used to clean and polish glass, ammonia is a known corrosive that can damage cells in your body upon contact through skin, breathing, or swallowing. Exposure to high levels of ammonia in the air can cause immediate health risks, including a burning sensation in the eyes and the nasal and respiratory tracts. It can cause permanent damage to the lungs, blindness, and even result in death. 

Now that you've learned some of the common toxic chemicals found in cleaning products, you're probably wondering how you're going to replace these products and still keep your home clean. Here are some ingredients you can find at home and DIY to replace toxic household cleaners.

How to Keep Your Home Clean Without Toxins

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a pantry staple that cuts through grease and grime. It's a natural deodorizer that brightens and scours surfaces without leaving any scratches. It's also typically less expensive and safer than industrial scrubbing powders.

White Vinegar 

Because of its acidity, vinegar is a safe and effective cleanser for grease, grime, soap scum, mildew, stains, and odors. White vinegar also gets rid of wax build-up and inhibits the growth of at-home mold on surfaces.

Castile Soap

Pick any unscented soap in biodegradable liquid form — along with soap bars and powders — and it'll work fine in cutting through grease and grime. Castile soap is one example of this efficient and harmless cleaning ingredient. It's manufactured from a mix of 100% plant oils — usually olive oil or a vegetable base — and it doesn't use any animal product or industrial ingredient.  

Lemon Juice

Naturally acidic with a pH between two and three, lemon juice effectively kills certain bacteria found in your home. It also cuts through grease build-up and makes surfaces shine.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A non-toxic alternative to chlorine bleach is hydrogen peroxide, a disinfectant commonly used to treat wounds. It can disinfect kitchens and bathrooms and is excellent in removing stains in fabrics and grout because of its mild bleaching properties. It breaks down into harmless oxygen and water, so it's a safe cleaning agent that works wonders. 

What Else Can You Do to Keep Your Home Toxin-Free?

Swapping out your cleaning products might not resolve the issue completely. But there are extra steps you can take to ensure that the air you breathe is clean and safe. The engineers behind Sans promise you a toxin-free, high-grade air quality at home. We do this through our built-in four-stage filtration mechanism. 

The Sans air purifier's first and second lines of defense — the pre-filter and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter — work hand in hand in trapping large and solid particles, such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander, that linger in the air.

But, as we all know, that's not nearly enough. Chemicals that are found in household cleaners can also pollute the air indoors in the form of gases. Sans’ technology uses an activated carbon filter that is effective in killing off and neutralizing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) before they can do any damage to your health. And to finish it off, the UV-C light makes sure that these contaminants don't get a second chance. It inhibits the growth of bacteria and pathogens in the filters of your air purifier so that they can’t come back to harm you.

Ready to feel the difference? Shop with Sans today.