The Dirt on Cleaning: The 10 Most Dangerous Cleaning Products

The Dirt on Cleaning

Written by Alex Reid
Posted October 1, 2012

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its first online guide to household cleaners, revealing which products contain harmful ingredients. Researchers spent 14 months investigating over 2,000 household cleaners in order to inform consumers about the hazards contained in many popular products.

According to the EWG, “ingredient labels are mandatory for food, cosmetics and drugs sold in the U.S. – but not for cleaning products,” so some manufacturers are deceptive or vague about the ingredients they list, if they list any at all.

The EWG found harmful substances in over half the products they analyzed, including even those marketed as “green” products. The substances found have been known to cause allergies, asthma, and even cancer in otherwise healthy individuals.

Here are the top 10 all-purpose cleaners that scored the worst:

  1. Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner, Orange Energy

  2. Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder with Bleach, Lavender Fresh

  3. Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner with Bleach, Fresh

  4. Clorox Commercial Solutions Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface Sanitizing Spray

  5. Safeway Bright Green All Purpose Cleaner

  6. Bon Ami All-Purpose Cleaner, Free & Clear

  7. BabyGanics The Cleaner Upper, Toy & Highchair Cleaner, Fragrance Free

  8. method All-Purpose Surface Cleaner, French Lavender

  9. BabyGanics The Grime Fighter All Purpose Cleaner, Fragrance Free

  10. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Geranium Glass Cleaner

The guide also includes scores for air fresheners, detergents, wood polish, and more. Products are organized into nine categories and given a grade of A, B, C, D, or F for safety of ingredients and disclosure of content.

Some of the brands whose products scored the highest overall in all categories are Green Shield Organic, Seventh Generation, Aussan Natural, and Whole Foods. The complete list of products and scores can be found on EWG's website.

There are also several types of products that the EWG recommends avoiding entirely as they are unnecessary and there are no safe alternatives available. These include all air fresheners, antibacterial products, fabric softener, and liquid drain cleaners.

Until there are more regulations in place to require full disclosure when it comes to the ingredients in household cleaning products, the EWG's guide serves as a dependable resource to help consumers protect themselves and their families against harmful chemicals.