Cleaning and Laundry

Facts About Cleaning & Laundry Products


Indoor air is more seriously polluted than the outdoor air, even in the largest and most industrialized cities.1

Laundry and fabric softener products contain undisclosed hazardous chemicals with known health risks.2,5

Cleaning products, especially those with germ killing properties, are harmful to health.6

Air fresheners actually worsen indoor air pollution by adding toxic chemicals to the air.4

Analysis of fragranced products reveals undisclosed chemicals with known irritant and neurotoxic properties.3,5,7


Consumers need to make every effort to ensure work, school, and home environments are clean, comfortable, and

safe. It is not sufficient to trust that products have been adequately tested before they go to market. They have not.

























Domestic Household Products to Avoid


All Fragranced Products

Fragranced Laundry Detergents, Fabric Softeners, and Dryer Sheets

Air Fresheners

Window Cleaning Solution, All Purpose Cleaners, Sprays, and Aerosols

Scouring Powder

Fragranced and/or Anti-Bacterial Vacuum Bags and Trash Bags

Disinfectants, Solvents

Commercial or Industrial Chemicals and Concentrated Products


Clean is the absence of dirt and grime that leads to odor. Toxic chemicals and strong fragrances merely cover up odors at the expense of health. There are many safe and effective cleaners.


Domestic Household Products to Use Instead


Laundry - borax, baking soda, or fragrance free laundry detergent

Fabric Softener - white vinegar in wash or towel wet with peroxide, tennis shoe, or tennis ball in the dryer

Air Fresheners - white vinegar, open windows, adequate ventilation, fresh herbs, and tea

Windows - white vinegar or water & squeegee

All Purpose Cleaning - white vinegar

Scouring Powder - baking soda or borax

Disinfectant - peroxide followed by white vinegar in separate cleanings.

Fragrance Free Products


Don’t Be Greenwashed! Just because a product is ‘green’ or ‘all natural’ does not mean it is nontoxic.


To download detailed brochures with inexpensive and safe household cleaning ideas, see:


General Cleaning

Kitchen Cleaning




1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2010, April 26). The Inside story: a guide to indoor air quality. Retrieved from

2. Anderson RC & Anderson JH. Respiratory toxicity of fabric softener emissions. J Toxicol Environ Health. 2000 May 26;60(2):121-36.

3. Anderson RC, Anderson JH. Acute toxic effects of fragrance products. Arch Environ Health. 1998 Mar-Apr;53(2):138-46.

4. Anderson RC, Anderson JH. Toxic effects of air freshener emissions. Arch Environ Health. 1997 Nov-Dec;52(6):433-41.

5. Steinemann AC. Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients. Environ Impact Asses Rev (2008), doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002.

6. Hahn S, Schneider K, Gartiser S, Heger W, Mangelsdorf I. Consumer exposure to biocides--identification of relevant sources and evaluation of possiblehealth effects. Environ Health. 2010 Feb 3;9:7.

7. Heather Sarantis, MS, Commonweal; Olga V. Naidenko, PhD, Sean Gray, MS, and Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Environmental Working Group; and Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance.  2010. Retrieved from


Download Printable Version


Sample Policies


See Fragrance-Free Places

Scientific Studies


Toxic chemicals emitted by dryer sheets and scented laundry products and health hazards

Toxic Chemicals Emitted By Air Fresheners

Toxic Chemicals In  Scented Laundry Detergent And Fabric Softener And Health Hazards


Steinemann, AC et all.  Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health (2011).

Chemical Emissions from Residential Dryer Vents During Use of Fragranced Laundry Products


Steinemann AC. Environ Impact Asses Rev (2008), doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002.

Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients


Steinemann AC. 2008.  Environ Impact Asses Rev  REVISED 8/2010
Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects REVISED8-2010

Steinemann AC. 2008.  Environ Impact Asses Rev REVISED 8/2010

Toxic Chemicals in Air Fresheners and Health Effects REVISED8-2010



Toxic Reference Databases


EPA Toxic Reference Database

"Cleanliness may be next to godliness for some. It's certainly next to impossible for others. With today's super-powered cleaning products, it also can be next to poisonous." - Nickie Polson

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