Watch out for hidden nasties – what to look out for when reading cleaning labels

While many people call in professional cleaning services like Molly Maid to leave their homes looking spic-and-span, others prefer to do the dirty work themselves. If you love rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, however, it’s wise to avoid products with nasty chemicals that could affect your health. Of course, with so many cleaning items on the shelves these days it can be difficult to know what’s hot and what’s not, so here’s what to look out for when reading the labels.

Misleading buzz words
When out shopping for household essentials, don’t be fooled by swanky packaging and certain buzz words such as ‘safe’, ‘natural’, ‘green’ and ‘oxygen-based’. While these confident marketing messages are designed to make you feel safe buying certain products, the use of these terms are poorly regulated and can mean very little. Just because something claims to be non-toxic, for instance, does not mean it’s natural or completely harmless as it might still contain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions and such like – so don’t be misled.

Ingredients you don’t recognise
Look on the back of many cleaning products and there’s probably a whole list of ingredients you simply don’t recognise. While some might be completely natural and harmless, others could be dangerous to your health and cause everything from skin reactions to asthma, so be proactive and check out anything you don’t know – after all it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Sure, this might seem laborious but you’ll soon discover ingredients you feel comfortable using based on their descriptions. While you might not object to using products with citric acid or hydrogen peroxide (a naturally-occurring chemical compound), for instance, you might decide to avoid anything with chlorine (a harmful, caustic chemical) or optical brighteners – the blue dyes found in laundry detergents that can build up on clothes even after rinsing and be harmful to the environment and your skin.

Overpowering fragrances
If labels promise the scent of a natural ‘spring breeze’, ‘honey blossom’ or a ‘fresh meadow’ you can pretty much guarantee they’ll contain a concoction of chemicals that are far from eco-friendly. While the product names might sound wonderfully enticing, the odours will have been scientifically developed in most cases and could not only pollute the air in your home but affect your health too.

To avoid overpowering fragrances that might cause irritations, look for products that are completely free of colour and fragrance. Once you’ve found the free cleaner that suits your needs you can always add a scent by adding an essential oil of your choice. This will bring you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy a range of lovely smells without worrying about harmful substances.

Avoid cleaning labels altogether
If you’re simply not sure what to use and are scared by misleading marketing messages and labels, why not experiment with homemade concoctions? Lemon juice is a great natural cleaner and you can even use bicarbonate of soda to soak up spills or to get rid of nasty odours in the fridge. Vinegar is also a good furniture polish and good old water is fine for washing windows, glass tables and such like.

Cleaning is an important part of life, but make sure you know what products you’re using.

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Bethany Taylor

Bethany Taylor

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