Nutrition and Healing

Clean these hidden chemicals out of your cabinet

From “lemon fresh” to “crisp pine,” the scent of cleaning products can really make your home, garage, or even car smell spick-and-span.

You inhale, and ahhhh… that fragrance fills you AND your nostrils with the confidence that things are squeaky clean.

But the truth is that these aromas can actually contain a lot of “dirty” secrets that the manufacturers don’t want you to know about.

You see, in most conventional cleaning products, fragrances don’t come from a squeeze of actual lemon or a drop of real pine oil.

That’s right, they come from chemicals!

For years, a federal law has protected companies that make cleaning products from having to disclose exactly what’s in those scents — even if it’s chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer or damage your health in other ways.

For example, we’ve known for decades that two common (and practically unpronounceable) fragrance chemicals — phthalates and perchloroethylene — cause cancer, but companies continue to regularly use them in cleaning products and leave them off ingredient labels.

Luckily, that’s about to change — at least in California, where lawmakers recently passed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act.

Starting in 2020, manufacturers of cleaning solutions and air fresheners (another common source of toxic fragrances) will have to disclose harmful fragrance chemicals used in their products online.

That means that even if you don’t live in the Golden State, you’ll be able to see which products contain toxins by visiting the companies’ websites.

And by 2021, manufacturers selling products in California will also have to list these chemicals on their product labels.

Now, you might think that won’t do you much good if you live in, Peoria, Kalamazoo, or right here in the Boston area.

Baby steps, my friend.

Besides, manufacturers may not actually go through the trouble of creating one special label for Californians and another for the rest of the country — which means that the convenience of seeing these toxins right on product labels may become widespread.

Not only that, but since online disclosures won’t be required for another two years, that gives manufacturers ample time to REFORMULATE their products.

And if they’re smart, they’ll remove toxic fragrances from the mix before you have a chance to spot them and run the other way.

In the meantime, choosing “fragrance-free” products is a step in the right direction — but that doesn’t mean they’re free of other toxins like “quats,” which can up your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Even supposedly “green” cleansers can contain harmful stuff, so read all ingredient labels carefully.

A sure bet for avoiding toxins altogether is to clean things the “old-fashioned” way: with time-tested germ-busters like baking soda, vinegar, and plain old soap and hot water.

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