Harmful Ingredients That Are In Your Household Products

The issue with most household products is that not only do they pollute us and our waterways, but they can severely compromise our indoor air quality.

Here's a list of some of the nastiest chemicals and toxins in your everyday household products:


Commonly found in air fresheners, synthetically fragranced cleaning products, many scented candles, children's toys household furnishings, PVC flooring, and food packaging such as plastic wrap and freezer bags. They are endocrine disruptive and cause hormonal and reproductive issues for men, women and children. They can also cause damage to the lungs, liver and kidneys.


Used in product to reduce flammability (catching fire) flame retardants have been linked to developmental problems, learning issues, hormonal imbalances, birth defects, thyroid disruption, memory impairment, cancer and behavioural changes.


Most commercial deodorisers and air fresheners are made from synthetic fragrances. Artificial fragrances are linked to eyes, skin, throat and lung irritation, headaches and migraines, damage to the reproductive organs and immune system.


Contained in household bleach produces, most pools and to disinfect water supplies. Bleach gives off toxic fumes which irritate the eyes, lungs, nose, throat and skin, they can even cause burns and death. Also, when bleach is added with an acidic cleaning product, it can cause chloramine gas which is lethal.


Triclosan is antibacterial and often used in cleaning products, hand soap, deodorant, antibacterial face washes and toothpastes. Triclosan can disrupt the immune system and accumulate in the environment.


This chemical gives window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners their characteristic sweet smell. To make matters worse manufacturers are not required to list 2-butoxyethanol on a product’s label. It can cause lung irritation when inhaled, contribute to narcosis (sleepiness), pulmonary oedema (fluid in “the lungs), and severe liver and kidney damage.


Commonly used in window and floor cleaners, ammonia irritates the lunds, skin and eyes and can trigger asthma and breathing problems. People who are excessibly exposed to ammonia, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. Ammonia can also create poisonous chloramine gas if it’s mixed with bleach.


Found mainly in scouring powders, toilet cleaners, whiteners for laundry soaking and cleaning, mould-removal products, tap water and pool water. Chlorine can affect the eyes, skin and respiratory system.


Found in some oven cleaners and drain openers. Also called lye, sodium hydroxide is extremely corrosive. If it touches your skin or gets in your eyes, it can cause severe burns, and inhaling the stuff can cause a sore throat that lasts for days.


A surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. It’s present in most mainstream shampoos, scalp treatments, hair colour and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents and bath gels. The manufacturing process (ethoxylation) of Sodium Laureth Sulfate results in it being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product.

Note: Sodium lauryl sulfate, is a better option for cleaning if it’s made from coconut oil or sustainable palm oil. It’s not carcinogenic and doesn’t contain any 1,4-dioxane as a by-product.


PDBE is used in a wide range of products, which includes electronics, building materials, plastics, furnishing, textiles, and motor vehicles. PDBE has been linked to fertility issues and cancer.


Found in most mainstream laundry detergents and softeners. Napthas, depending on regularity and degree of exposure, can irritate the respiratory system and possibly the kidneys. They can also be contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen.


Found in many products in the home that provide a stain resistant coating- carpets, clothes, non-stick pans and furniture. They can enter the blood and stay there for over four years. They can cause reproductive and developmental issues, liver and kidney problems and even cancer.


A xenoestrogen chemical and known hormone disruptor. Often found in bottles and cups made from plastic and the lining of tin canned foods. It is linked to type 2 diabetes, cancer, decreased testosterone, also health problems in babies and children.


VOCs are widely used as constituents in household goods, including paints and other solvents, disinfectants and cleansers. VOCs can cause loss of coordination, headaches, nausea, irritation in the throat, eyes, and nose, damaged kidneys and liver, and a damaged central nervous system.


Found in fabric softeners and fabric-softening sheets, as well as many shampoos, conditioners and face and body products. These operate similarly to triclosan and, to boot, can cause asthma and dermatitis.”


Fabric softeners also commonly contain benzyl acetate (possibly linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (can irritate the respiratory system depending on the source of its raw materials) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen).


Tetrachloroethylene, or PERC, Commonly used when dry cleaning furniture, carpets and clothes. These chemicals can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, liver and the central nervous system, as well as eye irritation, light headedness and confusion.


Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that is used as a disinfectant, a preservative and a precursor for various resins in construction products. Commonly found in building material, clothes and bedding. Formaldehyde is identified as a cause of leukemia and nose and throat cancer, it also irritates the eyes, nose, and throat, and can cause skin problems, asthma and allergic responses.


Dioxin has been found in some of the women’s sanitary products. Dioxins have been directly linked to endometriosis, diabetes, hormonal problems, cancer, and infertility.


Insecticides, pet flea, and tick treatments are pesticides that contain poisonous chemical compounds like imidacloprid, fipronil, pyrethrins, permethrin, diazinon, propoxur, chlorpyrifos and methoprene. All of these toxic ingredients can cause symptoms like headache, dizziness, twitching and nausea. Cockroach sprays use DDVP, which is rated as a first-class poison. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals because exposure can lead to neurological, respiratory, reproductive and heart problems and might even trigger cancer. If inhaled in large proportions, it can cause death.

This is just a handful of the chemicals that are now bombarding our bodies with toxins on the daily. Please above all else, do your research about what you are using, buying, wearing and consuming!


  • Use clean & safe products: Visit here to find the products Nicole Bijlsma - Health Home Expert recommends (& the ones I use too)

  • Read the labels of your products: there are great resources online and I also recommend the chemical maze books and app for this.

  • Keep your home ventilated, open windows daily: better yet, invest in an air filter or air purifying plants

  • Don't wear shoes inside; have specific shoes for inside and outside

  • Stay away from items that are non-stick, wrinkle free etc

  • Wash your clothes and bedding before using it

  • Find a dry cleaner that does not use harsh chemicals

  • Ask questions and do your research about the products you are buying and using them

  • Make your own DIY household products with essential oils