Almost everyone uses some sort of all purpose cleaning wipe because it is conveniently perfect for cleaning everything! While disinfecting wipes may look like they leave surfaces clean, they leave behind a streaky film and a negative effect on our bodies. Let me explain, and give you a better option that will give you the same clean without the negative health (or environmental) effects.
Let’s dive into a common disinfecting cleaning wipes brand. Although the website advertises a “click here to see ingredients” button, a full ingredient list is not shown. I found these main ingredients: alkyl dimethyl benzoyl ammonium chloride and quaternary compounds (collectively “Benzalkonium Chloride Compounds”) and Isopropyl Alcohol. I think it’s also worth pointing out the directions on the back (or right from the website), which will say to leave surface wet for 4-10 minutes to disinfect and then wipe clean with water afterwards. Do not use in areas that come into contact with food or kids. Each wipe (however many it takes to keep a surface wet that long) goes into a landfill and can take up to 100 years to decompose. Also, this particular formula has 21.5% of it’s makeup that hasn’t been tested for toxicity!!!
With a little bit of research, I found the Benzalkonium Chloride Compounds have been studied multiple times for their effects in cleaners and in the workforce, primarily used in agriculture and the medical field. In this early study, a man’s office was cleaned overnight while he was home, but he still had increased asthma from the indirect exposure to the Benzalkonium Chloride Compound in the cleaning solution! Another study showed increase asthma in nurses handling disinfecting products daily. Inhaling these chemical compounds can have short and long term effects. And it gets better (or worse, really)…Alkyl Dimethyl Ethyl Benzalkonium Chloride is actually listed as a Class 6 Poison, yet we use it everyday to “clean” our own kitchens.
The other main ingredient I found was Isopropyl Alcohol. This blew my mind because this fancy name is more commonly known as Rubbing Alcohol. You know the disinfecting substance you use to clean cuts, ya, it is actually a skin irritant. This chemical compound is colorless, flammable and has a strong odor, but it is effectively used in cleaning products to disinfect. However, it takes only a half ounce to see a physical reaction in a 154 lb human. And if you get too much exposure that you are poisoned by it, check out this heaping list of side effects (both short and long term) caused when it is inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin: Central Nervous System depression, flushing, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and more! So much for being an “all-natural” antibacterial agent!
A third ingredient I found was Hexoxyethanol. SC Johnson (a popular personal care company) says they use this chemical to remove dirt and deposits. And while it is great that is actually does clean, it can cause Central Nervous System depression, and even kidney injury and hematuria. How can we in good conscious be subjecting our bodies to the harmful effects of these chemicals? We are lucky to only notice mild symptoms like headache and dizziness, but do not forget that these minor inconveniences over a long time can be very harmful. Check out the latest study that compares using cleaning chemicals to smoking cigarettes (a pack a day for 20 years)!
Just for fun, I researched the same brand’s “green-cleaning” wipes and found a mildly different chemical profile. This one, though, listed Ethanol, a known carcinogen to both humans and animals when ingested by means of alcohol. Weird that something labeled “green” still contains a chemical that causes cancer. And while it is better for the environment with it’s compostable wipes, it’s really missing the point that what we as consumers deserve is something that will not harm our bodies.
So you’re on board now and realize how harmful your favorite cleaning supplies are, but if you still want a clean house, what do you do? You can clean mechanically instead of chemically!
Use an Envirocloth, a microfiber cloth made of super fine fibers. The increased surface area picks up and traps 99% of bacteria from surfaces using only water. Then the microsilver gets to work, creating a toxic environment for the bacteria, mold and mildew so they die off and your cloth is ready to use again (and it won’t smell).
As a Norwex Independent Sales consultant, I love sharing products that are not only free of harsh chemicals, but that actually work! I do receive commission for my efforts.