When you use a household cleaning product, to what extent are you releasing pollutants into your home?
Many common cleaning products rely on petroleum-based manufacturing and release toxic compounds into your home. The EPA broadly classifies these chemicals as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which includes airborne emissions, such as formaldehyde and car exhaust, as well as consumable compounds like ethanol and acetic acid. These compounds are often used as ingredients in fuels, paints and varnishes, as well as thousands of cleaning, disinfecting and cosmetic products.
Even in small quantities, VOCs are dangerous to inhale. Levels of VOCs have been found to be two to five times higher indoors, where these products are used and stored, than outdoors. Over time, these chemicals can build up and can result in short- and long-term health effects, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, skin reactions, and even damage to the liver, kidneys or central nervous system.
According to the data we analyzed, on average, air freshener sprays and cleaning wipes emit the most VOCs per use, while air freshener plug-ins and bodywash release the fewest VOCs per use.
The product that expelled the most harmful compounds per use is Wet Ones wipes, followed by Mrs. Meyer’s air freshener spray. Over a year of use, Wet Ones would release the most VOCs into your home: nearly half a kilogram (464,000 milligrams). Emissions from air freshener plug-ins add up over time (with hourly puffs of scent) to up to 100,000 milligrams per year.
Below is a graph showing the summary of study.