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10 Chemical Ingredients To Avoid When Purchasing Your Cleaning Supplies

10 Chemical Ingredients To Avoid When Purchasing Your Cleaning SuppliesAs the manager of owner a professional cleaning, housekeeping, or janitorial business, you need to be concerned with the chemical ingredients that your products contain, especially if are cleaning areas that children will frequent.  The following list of chemical ingredients should be avoided when purchasing your cleaning products.



  • Alkylphenol Ethoxylates – beware of any chemical name ending in “phenolethoxylate” which is a surfactant that is commonly found in many all-purpose cleaners.  In addition to children, they are harmful to women because they are estrogen mimickers that build up in cell tissue.


  • Ammonia – definitely not a child-friendly chemical despite the fact that it cleans and shines glass surfaces.  Just like chlorine bleach, it can be toxic to the eyes, lungs, and skin.


  • Benzalkonium Chloride – found in a number of anti-bacterial cleaners (see Triclosan for the risks involved with using it).  There is a growing concern about the overuse of anti-microbial agents both commercially and domestically.


  • Chlorine bleach – exposing children to chlorine bleach can be dangerous.  The risk of ingesting it increases when you use this around children.  When mixed with other organic materials, it causes carcinogenic compounds to form.


  • Formaldehyde – found in many dishwashing liquids and disinfectants, this is an extremely harmful chemical.  Over-exposure can result in damage to mucous membranes or developing sensitivities and triggering an asthma attack.


  • Nitrobenzene – commonly found in floor and furniture polishes.  Small amounts of this chemical can irritate the skin while prolonged exposure can reduce the ability of the blood to transport oxygen.


  • Perchlorethylene – this is a common ingredient in many carpet and upholstery cleaners or shampoos.  Over exposure to it causes dizziness, fatigue, and headaches as well as eye, nose, skin, and throat irritations.


  • Phosphates – these are typically found in dishwashing and laundry detergents, but pose a significant risk to one’s health.  You should not use cleaning products containing phosphates, especially if children can be exposed to them.


  • Triclosan – an anti-bacterial agent that contains benzalkonium chloride that can lead to certain bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics and disinfectants.


  • VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) – includes butyl cellusolve, ethylene and propylene glycols, and any chemical that is labeled as a petroleum distillate.  Immediate effects include irritations of the eyes, mucous membrane, and skin.  Potential long-term effects include blood, kidney, liver, lung, and nervous system damage.

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives available from janitorial supply companies such as eco-friendly products.  However, some are commonly found in the home such as baking soda, lemon juice, and white vinegar.