Most of the conventional products sold in supermarkets for personal hygiene and household cleaning contain toxic chemicals that impair one’s health. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a database of personal care products with a safety rating system and descriptions of the dangers of certain ingredients. It is a very useful resource in helping to determine if one wants to continue using a product as well as finding a new product to use or just comparing products.
There is a report on their Web site that contains information about household cleaning products. The report is updated regularly and contains some surprising data about the safety, or lack thereof, of home cleaning products. Many common brands found in markets scored very poorly, a “D” or an “F” for healthy rating. On the positive side, as people are becoming more conscious of the toxicity of many ingredients, there are more non-toxic home cleaning products becoming available in stores.
Another option is to use items found in most pantries like vinegar, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. They are actually quite effective cleaners and much less dangerous than the newer products out there. White vinegar is good for eliminating odors (once its own smell dissipates), removing grease and cleaning glass. Baking soda has so many uses around the house, besides deodorizing the refrigerator, from sprinkling it on carpets before vacuuming to making a cleaning paste or solution with water or even as a toothpaste.
One note of caution, though. Do NOT combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products that contain bleach (for example, dishwasher detergent). That combination, ammonia and bleach, creates very dangerous gasses.
A good source of information about product safety are safety data sheets. They are often provided by the manufacturer of the product. Or if one goes down to the ingredient level, there are chemical data sheets available, which are required for chemical manufacturers or distributors to provide.