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Cleaning Products That Cause More Harm Than Good

In today's fast-paced world, finding the quickest, easiest, most convenient, and least expensive way to fix, repair, and clean is at the top of the list for many consumers. For many faced with a cleaning task, the reasons listed above may seem okay but all too often, the chemicals in the products do more harm to internal and external surfaces than is acceptable.

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Bleach is a powerful oxidizer that has been used as a cleanser for many years to deodorize, sanitize, and remove stains. Because of its chemical makeup, it can burn the skin, cause irritation to eyes, and affect the respiratory system. While it may remove stubborn stains from items in the laundry, it can also ruin fabrics, furniture, and carpet in a hurry through fading, weakening and spotting when it comes into contact, full-strength, with these materials. For those who have a septic system, bleach that gets into the system will kill the helpful bacteria the septic system needs to function properly.
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Drain CleanersAndrea Danti/Shutterstock

Drain Cleaners

Drain cleaners are readily available over the counter. They're what some prefer as an inexpensive solution versus the cost of a licensed plumber. While both reasons may seem like a good idea, these products rarely work as promised, and one thing is for sure, these caustic chemical-ladened products can cause damage to your pipes. The best way to unclog a sink or toilet is with a plunger and auguer – learn how to clear clogged drains here. In addition, many consumers have suffered burns to their eyes and skin when they do not follow the instructions properly.
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Magic Eraserdigitalreflections/Shutterstock

Magic Eraser

Magic Eraser's are great at getting into tiny cracks and crevices and nooks and crannies and all those hard to reach places like around the blade of a can opener. Since this product is basically super fine sand paper, it can delve into those areas or clean built-up grime in a jiffy. But because it's basically sandpaper, it can easily cut through finishes on wood surfaces and trim – so be mindful while you're erasing!
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Toilet Bowl CleanerVova Shevchuk/Shutterstock

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Aside from the health dangers related to this product, this highly acidic and corrosive chemical can dull porcelain finishes and cause costly problems with your septic system as well as negatively affecting the environment. Toilet bowl cleaners, like drain and oven cleaners, can severely burn the skin and eyes. When combined with chlorine, toilet bowl cleaners can form toxic chlorine gas.
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AmmoniaMega Pixel/Shutterstock


While ammonia is an excellent household cleaner with many uses, it can cause more damage than good when not used properly to both you and your home. If accidentally ingested, it can cause damage to the esophagus and throat. Ammonia has a high acute toxicity level and should not be combined with corrosive or acidic materials. In addition, it can kill the microorganisms in your septic tank causing total failure resulting in costly plumbing repairs.
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Oven CleanersBudimir Jevtic/Shutterstock

Oven Cleaners

Along with drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners are considered one of the most dangerous cleaning options. Because oven cleaners contain corrosive chemicals, it can cause chemical burns to the eyes and skin, emit toxic fumes and harm the respiratory system. In addition, the chemicals can harm certain finishes and is not good for the environment. If combined with ammonia or lye, the result is harmful chloramine gas.
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Air FreshenersANTON TEPLYAKOV/Shutterstock

Air Fresheners

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, one-third of the materials used in air fresheners are toxic. When you go to the store to buy air freshening products, there's a good chance you won't know this because the formulas are considered trade secrets. So, before you buy that apple blossom or cinnamon inspired air freshener, read the label and look for any warnings that the ingredients may be harmful to the skin and nasal passages.
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Paint Removerpedrosala/Shutterstock

Paint Remover

Paint remover is a corrosive and volatile substance that can damage wood and other materials if the instructions are not followed correctly. In addition, protective gear is necessary when handling paint removers as the chemicals can cause severe burns when not handled properly. Make sure you take all the necessary precautions, including checking for lead paint, before opening the bottle.
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Abrasive PowderKen Weinrich/Shutterstock

Abrasive Powder

These cleansers, while effective, contain tiny abrasive particles that can scratch metal, wood and plastic surfaces. Consider stainless steel refrigerators, stoves, and sinks and the effects the abrasive particles can have on the finish. Always read the label of any powder cleaner before combining it with other cleansers that contain bleach, acid, or ammonia as this results in a dangerous situation. Also read any warning supplied by the manufacturer, such as "Avoid contact with acids and ammonia."
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Abrasive Cleaning PadsLightRecords/Shutterstock

Abrasive Cleaning Pads

Cleaning pads have a long history as a "go to" item for cleaning. Some of the materials used in cleaning pads include steel wire, copper, nylon, stainless steel and plastic. Brands such as Scotch-Brite, SOS pads, Brillo pads, and steel wool are all extremely abrasive. They can easily scratch metal, wood, plastic, cookware and acrylic solid surface countertops and sinks. Use them carefully and deliberately. If you're at all concerned about leaving scratch marks, test the cleaning pad on a small section of the surface before really getting into a deep clean.