Popular Cleaning Products That May Exacerbate Allergies

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By Phoebe Parlade, Penn Jersey Building Services Inc, USA.

HayMax note: This article contains lots of interesting information about chemicals which is universal, although references to government and agencies are for USA.

Many common household cleaning items are subject to little to no oversight by government regulators and third party safety testers, which is why many of them contain synthetic chemicals that can worsen allergic symptoms. The Consumer Protection Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency have paid much more attention to this issue in recent years, and have jointly come up with a set of guidelines concerning which cleaning products to avoid if you have a propensity for allergies. Ammonia, Formaldehyde and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) top the list.


Ammonia is a natural colorless gas that actually exists in the external environment as well as inside the human body. In proper amounts, it helps the body manufacture proteins and other important molecules, but overexposure can lead to serious negative effects, including lung damage, blindness or even death. Most people are exposed to ammonia by breathing it in their nostrils or mouth, and it can be found in such common household items as fertilizer, dish soap, pesticides and detergent.

Parents with young children should exercise extreme caution around ammonia, but the substance is dangerous to everyone — minor exposure will cause burning and irritation, but major or extended exposure could have very serious consequences.


Formaldehyde is another colorless, flammable gas that is used in several important household cleaning products. It is commonly used in paints and varnishes, and trace amounts can be found in permanent press fabrics like sheets, comforters, blankets and pillowcases. Many household cleaners contain formaldehyde due to its impressive ability to disinfect and wash.

Exposure to formaldehyde can affect the digestive tract and the respiratory system, depending on how it makes contact with the body. When people use cleaning solutions that contain formaldehyde, it often enters the body through the skin — this can lead to uncomfortable irritation and even infection.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

SLS is a chemical that is used as a foaming agent in a wide variety of personal grooming products. It is present in many soaps, body wash solutions, shaving creams, toothpastes and shampoo/conditioners, and it has been detected in many soaps and detergents. The most common symptom of SLS exposure is skin irritation. There are studies that argue for the existence of a link between cancer and SLS, and observational research has determined that SLS may be responsible for certain immunological problems.

Avoiding cleaning products with these substances in them should not be difficult. Natural cleaning solutions are better for our allergies, our bodies, and our homes. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and natural oils are all excellent cleaners that can be found in your kitchen cabinets. Your respiratory system will thank you profusely if you kick artificial cleaning products to the curb this summer.

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