Spring is nearly here and that means a couple of things. First, warm weather is on the horizon. Second, many of us will suddenly feel the need to clean each and every corner of our home. If you belong to the latter, and if you have little ones running around, then this is the article for you. Why? Because we’re going to discuss which harmful household cleaning products you should avoid.

While it’s always nice to strip our homes of dust and dirt, it’s equally important to make sure the products we’re using are kind to our kids. As parents, the last thing we want is for our child to get their hands on chemicals that can harm their bodies. And household cleaners can be damaging. For example, studies from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that even though the rates of injuries related to household cleaners among children has decreased, the number of injuries remains high. Keep reading to find out what harmful household cleaning products you should leave at the store. Then we’ll discuss what alternatives you can use to keep your home neat and shiny instead.

What are the Most Harmful Household Cleaning Products?

You might think all harmful cleaners have a frightening or hard-to-pronounce name. Or perhaps you assume they’re only in the rare products we use every so often for obscure cleaning procedures like chipping away at strange gunk building up on the garage floors. But, this certainly isn’t the case. Some of the most dangerous chemicals for your youngsters are the ones we use most frequently. These cleaners include:

  • Bleach
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Window/glass cleaners
  • Laundry detergent pods


Bleach, one of our most beloved cleaning products is also the most problematic. It topped the American Academy of Pediatrics list of products most associated with an injury. The cleaner families rely on for clearing out germs, eating away at stains and brightening clothing can also bring an extremely unpleasant experience for your little one if they were to unscrew the cap and take a sip. Ingesting bleach can cause vomiting, burning in the esophagus and stomach and throat irritation. In more severe cases, sources suggest ingesting bleach can lead to death.

In other cases, mixing bleach with ammonia to clean your home can release chloramine gas. This substance is responsible for creating burning and irritation within the respiratory tract and eyes. Other symptoms include headache, coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.

Dishwasher Detergent

Many of us keep our dishwasher detergent in a cabinet under the sink. This is great for convenience but bad for our little ones. Why? Because it’s a hiding spot that any tot can find.

And we don’t want our kids getting their hands on dishwasher detergent because the cleaner may contain bleach which, as you know by now, is a harmful chemical. Other dishwasher detergents might contain chlorine, which can irritate your eyes or skin and trouble your respiratory system. Another common substance in automatic dishwashing detergents is phosphate. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this can produce skin irritations, burns and is even poisonous if swallowed.

Window/Glass Cleaners

Window and glass cleaners made the list because they often contain ammonia. Ammonia is a foul smelling alkaline agent that can put your little ones at risk of a severe eye injury. The agents in ammonia are so strong they can continue to burn your child’s eyes even after you’re done cleaning; the most severe symptoms can result in blinding.

Outside of eye injury, window and glass cleaners can also irritate the nose, throat and skin. The most severe cases can result in death.

Laundry Detergent Pods

Laundry detergent pods haven’t been on the market for very long, yet they’re already causing distress among homeowners.

First introduced in 2012, these tiny packets are designed to provide a powerful clean. Unfortunately, they’ve also caught the attention of small children thanks to their squishy design, bright colors and small size that’s easy for a youngster to grab and play with. But laundry pods are certainly not a toy.

These cleaning products are highly-concentrated with toxic chemicals. And the only thing concealing these chemicals within a pod is a thin surface coating that dissolves from moisture. So if your child sticks the pod in their mouth, the coating will break apart and release the chemicals. Or if a child squeezes at the pods, the coating can easily burst and release chemicals that way.

If consumed, a laundry detergent pod can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from eye damage, drowsiness and vomiting to mouth burns, skin burns and throat swelling making it difficult to breathe.

A man is giving his daughter a high five as they sit at the kitchen counter.

How Can I Keep Cleaning Products out of My Kid’s Reach?

If you choose to continue purchasing cleaners from the store or if you already have them at home, lock them away in a child-proof container. A good child-proof container is one that’s stored someplace that’s too high for a child to get to. An even better step would be to keep all cleaning products in a locked cabinet in a space your children don’t use.

If you insist on storing your products under the sink (it is convenient after all) then you’ll need to baby-proof the cabinet.

Products from Amazon.com

    What are the Alternatives? Tips for Making Your Own Household Cleaning Products

    Now that we’ve named the harmful household cleaning products you should avoid, you’re probably wondering “well, what can I use to clean my home?” Believe it or not, chances are you already have a top notch, multi-purpose cleaner in your home. These items include:

    • Vinegar
    • Baking soda
    • Non-gel toothpaste


    Families with vinegar tucked away in their pantry are in luck. This liquid can serve as a gentle and safe natural fabric whitener. So say bye-bye to bleach and use this instead.

    Pour some vinegar inside your favorite spray bottle and use it to clean surfaces around your home. This includes floors, microwaves, windows and dishes.

    Baking Soda

    This affordable, non-toxic powder can clean just about anything around the house. Some of the powder’s hidden talents include:

    Oven Cleaner

    When combined with white vinegar, you can use baking soda as a natural oven cleaner. Just spray white vinegar around the inside of your oven. Then, pour some baking soda over the vinegar. Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for about 30 minutes and then rub away for a thorough clean.

    Fabric Whitener

    For brighter clothing, add about half a cup of baking soda into your laundry load.

    Toilet Bowl Cleaner

    If your bathroom needs some refreshing, drop a cup of baking soda into your toilet bowl. Next, pour in a cup of vinegar. Let the natural cleaners sit for about 30 minutes to lift away the residue before brushing with a toilet brush.


    Do you have non-gel toothpaste and baking soda lying around? Good. Because when you pair the two products together they can combat tough water ring stains. Just apply the toothpaste mixture on a damp cloth and rub against the grain of your wood surface. Have a softer cloth on hand to make the surface sparkle. Avoid using this mixture on unfinished wood or fragile antiques.

    A man and his son are using a bowl of soapy water to wash a white car.

    Let’s Get to Cleaning

    It’s always nice to pull the curtains back, open the windows and wipe away at all the dust and grime that’s built up over winter. After all, that’s where the phrase “spring cleaning” originates. However, you should also take some time to test the overall safety and quality of the often overlooked things in our home—like our water. Is it free from contaminants or does it also need a spring cleaning?

    Hopefully, after reviewing this article, you’re able to disinfect and spritz safely. To avoid harmful household cleaning products, remember to check the labels before making purchases. Or sort through your cabinets and pantry to see what natural cleaners you already have.

    Happy cleaning!