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Be Aware of Carcinogens in Cleaning Products

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Cleaning Products With Carcinogens

Carcinogens are substances that can cause cancer in living tissue.This article lists home cleaning items that you may use in your home that have carcinogens. The focus is to use safe cleaning products and many of them can be made with simple ingredients you already have in your home.

In the United States cancer is responsible for over 599,000 deaths annually, second only to heart disease, and there are 9.5 million deaths from cancer worldwide. There are many products we use in our homes that contain ingredients linked to or suspected to cause cancer, plus they have other ingredients that may cause allergies, asthma, and other health problems. Carcinogens should be avoided, and healthy substitutes are available.

Loose government regulation is primarily to blame, but we can take charge in our own homes once we know what to look for.

Non-toxic Products

There are many non-toxic options that work well, which can be used to replace toxic products.They are usually cheaper and easier to replace.

For instance, many cleaning products can be made with items you already have on hand, which include things like white vinegar, baking soda, salt and many other items. One of the videos below shows you in more detail how to make a variety of cleaning products.

Plants Help Clean The Air

Plants Help Clean The Air

Three Categories of Carcinogens

The Australian NOHSC divides carcinogens into three categories.

  1. Carcinogens are substances known to be carcinogenic to humans.
  2. Carcinogens are substances that should be regarded as if they were carcinogenic to humans.
  3. Carcinogens are defined as substances that have possible carcinogenic effects in humans but about which there is insufficient information to make an assessment.

Chemical Product Awareness

Art and craft material

You might not think of art and craft materials as carcinogens, but this is another area to make good choices.

Use vegetable-based dyes and paints, and as you probably know, avoid paints with a lead or other heavy metals. Also, use water based glues, paints and markers. Avoid hazardous solvents like rubber cement, paint thinners and solvent-based markers.

Automobile supplies

We know how unhealthy auto exhaust fumes are, so it's no surprise that the fluids we use in our cars are not very safe either. If you work on your own car do so carefully, and keep the automotive supplies locked away when you're not using.


Conventional dry cleaners use many chemicals, and they can stick to your clothing for several days. If your garments require dry-cleaning, ask for the wet cleaning option at the cleaners, and seek dry cleaners that use liquid CO2 or citrus juice cleaners.

10 Toxic Household Products (You Should Banish from Your Home)

Main Offender

Air fresheners

They often contain naphthalene and formaldehyde; both are known carcinogens, as well as a host of other toxic chemicals. These chemicals mixed with ozone make the air fresheners more toxic. The best thing to do is remove the odor source first rather than trying to mask them.

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  • Keep your garbage emptied; keep the window open when possible; clean the source of the bad odor with non-toxic products; burn 100% pure beeswax candles with 100% cotton wicks, which will purify the air.
  • Use an open box of baking soda to freshen the refrigerator or any room. Indoor plants are great to clear carbon dioxide and other toxins as well.
  • You can also perfume the air with natural methods, such as simmering cinnamon and cloves, fresh ginger or other herbs in water on top of the stove.
  • Try using a drop or two of your favorite pure essential oil. For cleaning, try zeolite, baking soda or natural fragrances from essential oils.
Pet Medicines

Pet Medicines

Flea, Tick and Lice Control

Avoid lindane-based pesticides. In rare cases, lindane has caused seizures and even death. There are some safer alternatives listed on this website.

Choose Products Carefully

Choose Products Carefully

Check the Labels when Buying These Products

Moth balls

Moth balls are nearly 100% naphthalene, a carcinogen or paradichlorobenzene, which is a toxin. I don't know if as many people use moth balls today as they did when I was young, but they were typically used to combat moths eating your wool clothing while stored in a cedar chest.

Cleaning products

Not all cleaning products contain carcinogens, but some of the worst offenders are mold and mildew cleaners as they often contain formaldehyde.

Use a natural approach to killing mold and mildew by using tea tree oil with hot water.

Stain Removers for Carpet & Upholstery

Products that are designed to remove stains or heavy dirt from carpets and upholstery sometimes use the ingredient perchloroethylene, which is the central nervous system toxicant and respiratory irritant.

Instead, try using a steam cleaner with water as a natural-based cleaner. When you shop for furniture look for styles that use slipcovers that can be removed and washed or water-process dry cleaned.

Furniture Polish

Typically, furniture polish achieves a shine with nitrobenzene, which is a reproductive toxin that can affect the central nervous system as it may be absorbed through the skin.

Look for an all-natural polish or make your own polish by using 1/8 cup olive oil or other vegetable oil mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon vodka.

Making Cleaning Products From Natural Ingredients

In Summary

There is a whole list of products with carcinogens on WikiCancer from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Since most of this cleaning list includes ingredients that you already have in your home, it should not be difficult to replace the items with non-carcinogens and avoid any contact with ingredients that could cause cancer or any illness. For most of the cleaning products, paints, automobile chemicals, just use good common sense and stay safe.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

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