Cleaners are the only household product regulated by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, but manufacturers aren’t required to reveal all the ingredients on labels because they are considered “trade secrets”.

Actually, they are only required to list the “Active” ingredients not everything that a product contains. There is no requirement to list other chemicals that could cause long-term health effects — and no warnings that say anything like may cause respiratory problems.

While this government regulation protects proprietary information, it does not protect your health or environment. Don’t assume that if it is on the store shelf that it has been tested and is safe.

Start by pulling everything out and making three piles:

  1. things you use every week (laundry detergent, toilet paper, trash bags, paper towels)
  2. things you use every once in a while (window cleaner, hardwood floor cleaner, stain and odor removers)
  3. things you can’t remember using and things that look caked on, rusted over or petrified beyond recognition. Anything with a label that says WARNING, DANGER, CORROSIVE or POISON.

To find out the potential risks in a cleaning product, search online to determine if any ingredient poses a threat. Also note that companies can hide the same chemical using several different “names” or acronyms, so be on the look out.

Take a close look at the labels on the products in piles 1 and 2. Anything that you know to be toxic, move to pile 3.

Put items from pile 1 back.

Store products from pile 2 in an out-of-the-way location.

Banish items in pile 3 from the house forever — but do not dispose of them down the drain or in the garbage, dispose of them properly.