More now than ever before, we are aware of the toxins in our homes. However, there are still some surprising places these toxins can lurk. For example, are your toilet cleaners safe?
We don’t expect our cleaning solutions to cause us harm. After all, the whole reason we use them is to cut down on germs and keep ourselves safe. But it turns out these products can end up doing more harm than good.
Health Problems and Commercial Cleaners
Commercial cleaners often use toxic and caustic chemicals. These can cause acute health problems—in other words, health issues that pop up immediately either during use or directly after use. These problems can include skin irritation, respiratory problems, watery eyes, and chemical burns. According to Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition, toilet bowl cleaners are among the top three most dangerous cleaning substances commonly found in households.
Problem ingredients are those with high acute toxicity. These include chlorine bleach and ammonia, as both create fumes that can be breathed in and come into indirect contact with the eyes. In fact, they are so dangerous that people with asthma, heart, or lung problems should never use them. Despite this, they are in the majority of commercial toilet bowl cleaners.
Another concern is that the caustic chemicals in these cleaners can have a dangerous reaction if they come into contact with other chemicals, creating gases that can damage the lungs or even prove fatal. For example, the two chemicals mentioned above—bleach and ammonia—create a deadly toxic gas when combined with each other. This can easily happen if you use more than one cleaning agent.
Sometimes, ingredients that seem pretty harmless cause health problems. For example, most toilet bowl cleaners contain powerful fragrances to help mask those bathroom smells. These can be highly problematic for anyone with allergies or respiratory issues. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety, about a third of substances used in the fragrance industry are actually toxic. But, due to them being trade secrets, the companies don’t need to list these ingredients.
Low-acute toxicity ingredients are safer in the short term but can still have long-term health impacts. For example, they might contribute to cancer or cause hormone disruption. In general, opt for natural products whenever possible.
Plumbing Problems and Commercial Cleaners
While damage to your health is important to consider, you should also remember that commercial cleaners can damage your plumbing too. The chemicals can create cracks in pipes and disintegrate the plastic and rubber pieces of your toilet. This can lead to messy and expensive problems within your home, as well as potentially compromise your health due to mold, mildew, and in some cases, the presence of sewage.
Safer Alternatives to Commercial Cleaners
Now that you know how harmful commercial cleaners can be, you are no doubt wondering what your options are. Luckily, there are many safe options for achieving a clean and odor-free toilet. In fact, you might already have some of them in your home. These include:
- Vinegar: White vinegar is an all-purpose cleaning product that is great at disinfecting and deodorizing. Despite its own powerful scent, it will leave your bathroom smelling fresh. Simply pour a cup into the tank so the water deodorizes every time you or your family flushes.
- Denture Cleaner Tablets: Since these are designed to clean products that go in the mouth, they are perfectly safe. You can drop tabs into the tank so the toilet cleans itself with each flush. For tough stains, you can put a tablet in the bowl and let it rest overnight. Then come morning, you flush and the stains go away.
- Borax: Many unfairly think of this cleaner as old-fashioned and irrelevant. Borax is safe and natural, and it is easy to use. For deodorizing, just pour a cup into the tank a couple of times a week; it will help get rid of rust stains too. For cleaning the bowl, just leave a cup of it in the bowl a few times a week at bedtime and your toilet will remain clean and fresh at all times.
Of course, not every bathroom problem gets solved with the right cleaning products. If you are having a plumbing problem and could use assistance, contact the team at Orange Coast Plumbing. We are confident that we have the solutions you need and can deliver them in a timely and professional manner.