5 harmful chemicals you may not know are in your cleaning products

5 harmful chemicals you may not know are in your cleaning products

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

Unfortunately, most cleaning products are formulated with a lot of harmful ingredients. Numerous studies show that these chemicals not only have damaging effects on human health, but they also cause harm to the environment.

Today, many cleaning supplies, 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 labels because the law doesn’t require manufacturers to list all the chemicals they use in their products.

Here are fiveharmful ingredientsyou may not know are hiding in the store-bought cleaning products you use at home:


Phthalates are often called the “everywhere chemicals” because they can be 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 most well-known use for phthalates is as plasticizers. Manufacturers use these chemicals to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, which are made into containers and packaging films, flexible. Phthalates are also used as solvents in fragrances, toiletries 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 the male reproductive organ. DEHP is also associated with sperm abnormalities and low testosterone levels. [3]

Phthalates also have a negative effect on the development of unborn babies. 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]

Quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS)

QUATS are chemicals that can be found in fabric softeners, disinfectant sprays, hand soaps, toiletries and household detergents. According to studies, their chemical properties allow these surface-active agents to bind to certain microbes and, over time, disrupt their cell membranes. Because of this, QUATS are among the most commonly used disinfectants in the food industry. [6]

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

Another problem with QUATS-containing products is that prolonged use can cause many health problems. Besides irritating your skin and causing rashes, QUATS can also contribute to asthma and other breathing 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. A versatile laundry additive, ammonia is a moderate alkaline that’s commonly used in laundry detergents. Apart from vanquishing stains, ammonia can also help soften and whiten your fabrics. [10] [11]

Despite its many uses, ammonia poses considerable health risks. When inhaled, this chemical can irritate the airways and cause serious problems, especially for people with asthma and lung issues. Prolonged contact with ammonia can also cause bronchitis, an inflammation of the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. [12]

Products that contain ammonia are also known to irritate the eyes, skin, nose and throat. If swallowed, they can cause drowsiness, unconsciousness and death. [13] Experts also warn that combining ammonia-containing products with bleach can result in a toxic gas that can be deadly.


Triclosan is a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, laundry and dishwashing detergents, hand sanitizers, toothpastes, cosmetics and other cleaning supplies. [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.

But since 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned its use in hand soaps because of health concerns associated with triclosan use. A proven endocrine disruptor, this chemical can interfere with the function of certain hormones that directly affect the brain. Triclosan can also negatively affect your immune and reproductive systems. [15] [16]

In addition, triclosan is an environmental contaminant that’s been declared to be toxic to marine life by the European Union and Canada. Not only is this harmful chemical present in many waterways in the U.S., but it is also said to hang around in the environment and build up to toxic levels inside the human body.


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

Most commercial dishwasher detergents, even those that are supposedly “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 pains, vertigo 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 also been identified as a carcinogen. Researchers have found that exposure to 1,4-dioxane increased incidences of liver and gallbladder cancer in animal studies.

Where to get cleaning products that don’t contain harmful ingredients

There are many harmful toxins present in the environment, as well as in most consumer products you can find on market shelves. But cleaning your home doesn’t have to come at the expense of your family’s health or the environment’s. This is why the Health Ranger Store is bringing back your favorite eco-friendly cleaning products, which are made with ingredients that are highly rated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Health Ranger Select Laundry Detergent Powder and Health Ranger Select Automatic Dishwater Detergent Powder are specially formulated to help you clean your laundry and dishes without harming your health in the process.

Health Ranger Select Laundry Detergent Powder is based on a revolutionary formula that’s ideal for the entire family and can even protect sensitive skin. Unlike commercial laundry detergents, our detergent powder is free of phosphates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes and fragrances that can compromise your endocrine and neurological health. This highly efficient formula contains only ingredients that are needed to keep your clothes clean and stain-free. It is gentle on the skin and on precious fabrics like silk and wool.

Health Ranger Select Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Powder is the most efficient dishwasher detergent you can find that contains no harmful chemicals like bleach, lye or abrasives. Because the Health Ranger Store understands that the dishwasher detergent you use can affect the food you eat, we made sure that our dishwasher detergent is free of harmful chemicals, such as synthetic fragrances that often contain phthalates, sulfuric acid that can trigger asthma, and phosphates that can leave a white film on your dishes. With our specially formulated dishwasher detergent powder, you can get sparkling-clean kitchenware without compromising your, or your family’s, health.

If you’re looking for safe and eco-friendly cleaning products for your fabrics and dishes, give our specially formulated laundry and dishwasher detergents a try. If you know of other hidden chemicals in cleaning products that can harm human health or the environment, share them in the comments below.


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html

[2] https://saferchemicals.org/get-the-facts/toxic-chemicals/phthalates/

[3] https://noharm-uscanada.org/issues/us-canada/phthalates-and-dehp

[4] https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/sep/2015/phthalate/index.cfm

[5] https://sph.unc.edu/sph-news/new-study-confirms-link-between-maternal-phthalate-levels-risk-of-adhd-in-children/

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/quaternary-ammonium-compounds

[7] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-81-322-1774-9_1

[8] https://www.womensvoices.org/2018/05/08/what-are-quats-and-why-are-they-on-our-list/

[9] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170617073635.htm

[10] https://www.thespruce.com/how-laundry-detergent-ingredients-work-2146619

[11] https://www.hunker.com/13422713/how-to-use-ammonia-in-the-laundry

[12] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355566

[13] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11397-household-chemical-products-and-their-health-risk

[14] https://www.madesafe.org/triclosan/

[15] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10937404.2017.1399306?journalCode=uteb20

[16] https://www.nrdc.org/stories/dirt-antibacterial-soaps

[17] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=953&tid=199

[18] https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/1-4-dioxane.pdf