clean freak. There, I said it.
I buy hand sanitizer in bulk, I’m usually within
arm’s reach of disinfecting wipes, and I have a deep fondness for color-safe
bleach. I spend the excruciating flu season, or as I call it, “the dark days,” wishing
I were in a Hazmat suit. Friends and family have gibed me about this for years,
though my ears are deaf to it. This is how I’m built. But am I a smart clean freak? Until recently, no.
the ingredients of my kitchen, bathroom, and laundry cleaning supplies, I discovered
words I didn’t think semantically possible. Let these roll off your tongue: diethylene
glycol; benzyl ammonium chloride; nonylphenol ethoxylate. Never heard of them?
You should. We all should. They’re ingredients found in most cleaners that we employ
regularly. And they could be making us sick.
Ammonia, found in most window
cleaners, has been linked to kidney and liver damage. The ingredients found in
toilet bowl cleaner can be harmful or fatal if swallowed and can damage skin
and eyes. In fact, in 2006 the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported
that over 120,000 children under 5 were involved in incidents involving everyday
But there are alternatives for the health-conscious consumer.