Common Toxins in Household Products

February 16, 2022

Dangerous chemicals/ Toxins can be found in every room in our house. We usually use these products on an everyday basis but we don't know anything about these products. And nowadays advertising skills act as a cherry on the cake and make it very hard for common people to differentiate between which products are genuinely healthy and which ones are the real harmful ones. “Chemicals can come out of our products and end up in the air and dust in the home, where they can enter your body,” says Dr. Ami Zota, an environmental and public health expert at George Washington University. According to her research, her team discovered 45 different chemicals that are commonly found in indoor dust and many of these identified chemicals belong to a group called “endocrine disruptors.” So most of the time the problems arises from here as these endocrine disruptors get into our body, they start to mimic or block the natural hormones your body makes which might start affecting our body by reducing fertility, increasing the risk for some cancers and posing a greater risk to the health when the foetus is exposed in the womb. Let’s take a look around our home, go through the products we use every day and learn which of these can be a great threat to our health. Becoming aware of these harmful substances and switching them with natural ones is very important to keep our family healthy. 

Mould:-  Moisture usually occurs in almost every season in our house and this moisture is known as mould. Moulds are a form of fungus and there are many different types that can occur both indoors and outdoors. It can grow anywhere;  under the sink, leaking ceilings, moist or watery places, walls and other similar places. As they grow, they may digest the material they are growing on. Moulds take a variety of forms, textures and appear in different colours like white, black, yellow, blue or green and often look like discolouration or stain to a surface. 

But the question arises are these harmful to our health? Yes, they pose different types of health problems, especially problems related to respiratory and weakness in our immune system. Breathing problems, allergies, aspergillosis, bronchitis, allergic fungal sinusitis, lower respiratory tract problems in children etc.

How To Get Rid of Mould?

Controlling moisture is the key to getting rid of mould or preventing it from growing indoors. Therefore hygiene and proper ventilation are required to suppress mould. Other ways are to Repair leakages, clean the area with vinegar, keep the area as dry as possible, and ensure exposure to sunlight in these spaces. 

1. Laundry Washing Powder/ Liquid :-

 Do you think the detergent we use affects our health? Then yes, you are correct! Detergent is a cleaning agent which is used for washing or cleaning clothes. Most of these detergents have strong acids, alkalis and phosphates, and these powders or liquids can be hazardous to our health. Detergents also contain certain artificial fragrances made from petroleum products that some people are allergic to and it causes high irritation to the lungs of people with asthmatic conditions or suffering from chronic heart problems. Therefore it is important to look at the ingredients present in these products. Look for possible toxins like- 2-Butoxyethanol, Phthalates, and Triclosan. Usually, laundry detergents are not fully rinsed out through the wash, so it gets inhaled throughout our mouths and noses and absorbed through our skin. If these ingredients are present we can suffer from issues like hives or itchy eyes to endocrine disruption (meaning, they may mess with our hormones). So it's good to replace harmful laundry powders and liquids with some safe options:- 

  • Gokhale Herbals Eco Wash
  • Sacred Earth
  • Rustic Art

Safety Tips:-  Always wear rubber gloves to avoid direct contact with skin, the room should be well ventilated, never mix two cleaners.

2. Safe Floor Cleaner/ Surface Cleaner :-

Cleaning the floor means it should shine and sparkle whether it's your house or someone else and for that, we usually buy the best surface cleaner.  But most of us are not aware that most of these floor cleaners have very harmful chemicals that are hazardous to our health as well as to the environment. Even though the marketing of most of these cleaners says 100% hygienic, they still have some quantities of toxic ingredients. Some of those toxins are:- BAC ( Benzalkonium Chloride ), Phthalates, Triclosan, Artificial fragrances. To get those spotless floors we constantly use these cleaners and prolonged exposure to these toxins can cause various health issues. Common health problems are skin conditions, breathing problems, irritation in the eyes, allergies and cleaners with fragrances usually cause hormone imbalance. So how should we judge healthy cleaners?

1) Do read the labels before purchasing.
2) Include homemade DIY cleaners
3) Look out for any kind of allergies after the first time use the cleaners
4) Keep the quantity of the cleaner quantity less.

Safety Tips:- As a safer cleaning option, use warm water and soap, you can use baking soda for scrubbing, a mixture of vinegar and water can clean glass, and keep the area well ventilated. Also ensure that the cleaners are kept out of the reach of children and pets as they can cause eye or skin irritation, wash hands thoroughly after using, and keep away from direct sunlight.


3. Safe Toilet Cleaning Products :-

While selecting your bathroom cleaning products we usually check whether it will clean well, its fragrances, etc, and hardly keep a note of checking the ingredients present in these products. Toilet cleaners contain some very harmful chemicals which when inhaled or touched can cause health problems and can also contribute to indoor air pollution. They may contain chemicals like sodium hypochlorite or HCL, bleach, 2-Butoxyethanol, HCL, Cetrimonium chloride (CTAC), and Oxybenzone. The products which have these chemicals usually come with caution “Keep away from eyes, ears and nose,” because these chemicals can cause severe irritation to skin and eyes. And the mixture of these chemicals can again be a major hazardous act on your health. Therefore it's better to check the product's ingredients before buying. When you flush out the liquid, traces of acid remain on the seat even after the toxic chemicals go down the sewage and in the lakes, rivers or sea near you and pollute the water bodies, posing a threat to the ecosystem there.

Therefore it's better to switch to safer products. Here are a few safer options which can be purchased for cleaning your bathroom:- 

1) Natural Turil 

2) Born Good 

3) PureCult. 

Safety Tips:-  Ventilation is important, keep your eyes and skin away, use gloves, wash off in case there is some splash on your skin. 

4. Safe Dishwashing Soap/Liquid:

Nowadays the market is providing liquids and soap which can clean our utensils in one swipe with a good long-lasting fragrance to the utensils. But some basic ingredients that are present in hand dishwashing detergents, to clean the grease, stubborn food residue from plates, cutlery and cookware, are triclosan, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Disodium EDTA, phosphate, formaldehyde; making the products hazardous to our health. In addition to these, fragrances, colouring dyes, preservatives, sodium chloride etc. are also used in various permutations and combinations which can be extremely harmful in concentrated forms. Also, oven cleaners' basic ingredient is Iye (consisting of either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide). It's extremely corrosive and can burn your skin and eyes if not handled properly and can have a grave effect on your gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system if inhaled or mistakenly ingested. Therefore, it is important to check the ingredients and switch to the safer one as. Some of them are:- 

1) Sacred Earth’s Natural Dishwash, 

2) Rustic Art

Safety tips:- Wear an apron, gloves and safety goggles when handling these products, keep the room ventilated, and do not skip over the ingredients of the products.

 5. Safe Mosquito/Insect Repellent:

Mosquitoes are serious vectors of diseases, spreading malaria, dengue, chikungunya fever etc. So to get rid of these noisy mosquitoes we usually use different types of repellents. But repellents have some serious toxins like d-Trans Allethrin, kerosene, and Flammable Gas. Whichever species you encounter, you can protect yourself without having to use a DEET-based chemical repellent. DEET products have the potential to cause health and environmental problems. So why not use some natural ways to keep the mosquitos away. 

  • Exotique Mosquito repellent
  • Neem Oil in a diffuser
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil 
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Thyme Oil
  • Tea tree oil 

6. Safe Water Filter: 

Water is important to keep us hydrated throughout the day. Many water treatment technologies have one goal, to remove the contaminants present in our drinking water. Contaminants like Chlorine, fluoride, iron, urban pollutants, endocrine disruptors, etc can cause many health-related issues as they start to accumulate in large quantities. Nowadays another chemical is found in drinking water:- PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) which can cause many health hazards. Therefore safe water filters are important to be installed in urban cities and with proper maintenance. Like:-  Aquaguard & Kent RO TDS Control

7. Indoor Air Pollution: 

Indoor air pollution is dust, dirt or glasses. It can be in your house or your workplace that could be harmful to breathe in. Indoor air pollutants can be asbestos (Building materials, Coating, etc), Biological pollutants (Pets, Mold, droppings and body parts from cockroaches, rodents and other pests or insects), Carbon Monoxide & Nitrogen dioxide (gas stove, tobacco smoke, nearby pollution through vehicles), and lead (Water pipes Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's)- paints, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellents & air). Poor indoor air quality is usually linked to many health problems especially related to lung diseases like Asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, and allergies, therefore it is important to reduce the air pollutants to avoid any health hazards. But how can we do that?

Tips to tackle Indoor Air Pollution:

Plant snake Plant in the bedroom,  spider Plant in the living room, and aloe vera in the kitchen balcony. Additionally, keep the house properly ventilated, vacuum frequently, minimize air freshener usage, use dehumidifiers to reduce moisture, and use carbon monoxide detectors. 


Making our home healthier and greener doesn't have to be expensive. Using organic products or homemade DIYs can be implemented in your daily cleaning schedule. In the case of buying those expensive products, it's important to check the ingredients of those products. Make sure the toxins discussed are not present in those products. Just a few changes can improve the health of your home and simultaneously we can keep the environment clean. Avoiding or limiting exposure to toxic chemicals is everyone’s top priority.


Manali Chindarkar
Research Associate

Manali has a Master's in Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialisation in Nutrigenomics. She's into all things tracking. Her determination to solve problems makes her an approachable nutritionist and an integral part of iTHRIVE's research team.

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