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  • Writer's pictureKara Dyko

New Year Home Cleanse Step 2: REMOVE

Photo: Branch Basics

If your dog is constantly scratching and struggles from skin irritations, allergies, digestive issues or perhaps you do...this next step is a biggie. If you do no other step, do this one. Crucial to the entire process is the complete removal of toxic cleaning products. If you decided to store them away somewhere "just in case", or "see if it really affects me", you're allowing dangerous chemicals and toxic pesticides to linger in your home and continue to be a detriment to the health of all those you live with and love. The presence of these products, even in small amounts, prevents the creation of a truly healthy home, hindering the ability for the body to maintain health and/or heal. Note: If you have products you're not ready to part with, ideally keep them in an outdoor storage shed or detached garage.

While we can't promise immediate results, rest assured that removing toxic pesticides, detergents, and cleaners from your home is improving your air quality immediately, and your health will follow. So follow along below, as this is one of the most important steps in the process of creating a healthier home.

Alrighty, it's time to put on your detective cap and track down those NOT so awesome cleaning products in your home!


If you’re like most people, there are dozens of different products under sinks, in drawers, in the laundry room, and in the garage. And don’t forget those dusty bottles you keep around “just in case”. Decide which ones need to go, put them in a box, and set them aside.


You may need to make a few sweeps of your home. Although moving purchashed items can be difficult, keep in mind your immune system and that of your dog's will be under siege if these products are not taken out of your house, because the chemicals escape through even sealed lids.


Reviewing labels on conventional cleaning products is simple. While all ingredients must be listed on labels of skin and body care products, there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household cleaning products. So, no safety standard and no requirement for listing of ingredients. Many of these products should be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility and can cause injury if handled improperly – they pose a threat not only to people, but the environment as well.

There are many “non-toxic” and “natural” products available that are biodegradable and environmentally safe, however, it is not enough to use those label claims as a reason to keep a product. Many have their own toxic red flag ingredients and may have potential for harm.


+ CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER – A quick scan of a bottle of most conventional cleaners will reveal these three EPA signal words required by law for products that contain harmful ingredients


+ Directions recommending RUBBER GLOVES or MASK

+ Directions that require VENTILATION while using the product


  • The fact that the EPA classifies oven cleaners, drain cleaners, wood and metal cleaners, polishes, toilet cleaners, tile tub and shower cleaners and laundry bleach as hazardous waste validates our recommendation for removal. If you can’t throw them in your garbage, do you want them all over your house? These products typically contain synthetic petroleum-based surfactants. Products with these toxic red flags should be put in the box to be removed from the house.


+ CHLORINE BLEACH – Classified as a pesticide under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, it is highly irritating and corrosive to the skin, lungs, and eyes. Fumes from bleach can cause DNA damage, cancer, asthma, and a host of other illnesses.

+ DISINFECTANT OR SANITIZER – Non-alcohol-based products contain EPA registered pesticides.


  • Synthetic fragrances have been linked to asthma, allergies, skin irritation, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, cancer, nervous system, respiratory, and endocrine disruption. Look for red flag words – “fragrance”, “parfum” or indications on the label of a “fresh clean smell.” This is a concern with many “non-toxic” cleaners.

  • Many essential oils are processed with solvents that have harmful VOCs, so botanical fragrances should be organic or wildcrafted and must be extracted through distillation, not with solvents.

  • Studies have found that terpenes in pine, lemon, and orange oils react with ozone from outside air to create secondary toxic compounds such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, and ultrafine particles in the indoor air. Avoid use on Ozone Alert Days.

+ UNSCENTED PRODUCTS – Even conventional products labeled as “unscented” or “free and clear” can contain masking agents that are added to simply cover up fragrance with another toxic chemical. Always look for an ingredient list and not just the unscented claim.

+ PETROLEUM BASED INGREDIENTS – An ending of “ol” or “ene” is likely an indication of a petroleum-based product or coal tar derivative (i.e. xylol, glycol, phenol, benzene, toulene, xylene)


  • Some of the most popular cleaning products that claim to be non-toxic actually have antibacterial ingredients that are EPA-registered pesticides used as preservatives from the isothiazoline family such as MIT (methylisothiazolinone) and BIT (benzisothiazolinone) which are known skin irritants and are considered neurotoxic.

  • Phenoxyethanol – preservative found in “non-toxic” cleaning products – an endocrine disruptor, neurotoxin, skin and eye irritant; phenoxyethanol is an ethoxylated compound that may be contaminated with the carcinogenic toxin 1,4-Dioxane.

  • Benzalkonium chloride – a quaternary ammonium compound associated with allergies, severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.

  • Potassium sorbate – preservative associated with skin and eye irritation

  • Sodium benzoate – preservative that has been associated with eye irritation, asthma, and carcinogen formation

*Although preservatives are usually only included in very small amounts, research shows they can actually do more harm on the delicate hormone system than large amounts. The dose does not always make the poison.

+ SURFACTANTS – Dig into your non-toxic products and find out what surfactants are used. Naturally-derived synthetic surfactants used in many non-toxic cleaners are made from plant-based ingredients such as coconut oil. Even though made from plants the processing steps make them synthetic. Unfortunately, many of these naturally-derived synthetic surfactants are very toxic to aquatic life, are known carcinogens, have toxic byproducts such as 1-4 dioxane and nitrosamine, and are rated very high as a skin irritant. The exceptions are the alkyl glucosides – coco glucoside, lauryl glucoside, and decyl glucoside – which are EU (European Union) Cosmetic Directive approved for skin, body, and baby care, have no carcinogens or toxic byproducts and are biodegradable.

For any other ingredient in question go to:

We recommend that your cleaning products have ingredients rated a 1 on EWG Skin Deep, an A rating on EWG Healthy Cleaners Database, or a zero on Think Dirty.

Before you toss the toxins, make sure you're disposing of them properly. Go to earth911

type in your zip code to find out how to safely dispose of products in your community.

We know this a lot of information and it can seem overwhelming, so keep it simple. This is an opportunity to take proactive, preventative care of your family’s health! It costs no money to remove these products from inside your home and will likely save money in the long run with reduced doctor visits. Know that every single item you remove will result in an improvement in your home environment, and thus your family’s health!

Now what? Come back tomorrow to learn how to replace toxic cleaners with products that are human and dog-safe.

Blog Content: Courtesy of Branch Basics

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