residue, pollution, and health issues: what toxic cleaners leave behind

Ever feel like you could wipe down, mop, scrub, and scour your home from top to bottom, again and again, and it would never feel truly clean? Sticky residues and grit cover certain surfaces. Harsh chemical fumes linger in the air. To make matters worse, your family members are routinely sick, and you’ve got a persistent headache.

What’s the deal? According to an EPA Educational cleaning and sanitizing guide:

  • “Some cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products also contain chemicals that may cause health problems in children and staff.”
  • These same products “may also cause problems in the environment for our waterways and wildlife.”
  • Most consumers assume just because a cleaning product is sold it must be safe. The EPA says this isn’t true and adds, “The American Poison Control Centers reports that household cleaning products and disinfectants are common causes of poisoning in both children and adults.”

Here’s what toxic cleaners leave behind:


Everyday cleaning products can leave residue behind. Some residues are clearly visible, leaving a clear film, smudge, or grime behind on surfaces, while others are microscopic but can cause noticeable corrosive damage. In either case, you’re leaving your home open to a buildup of dirt and germs that cling to those residues and find their way into corroded nooks and crannies.


Wash away residue with water and send it down your drains and you could be distributing harmful chemicals and germs into local waterways and soil. Tackle residue with additional cleaning products and the combination may create volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can impact your health. However, a chemical reaction isn’t necessary to create VOCs. VOCs have been discovered in single products, even in products marketed as “green.” VOCs evaporate quickly, heavily polluting indoor air, thus exposure to VOCs occurs mainly through inhalation, but can also result from absorption into skin and by ingestion.

Health Issues

Residue that traps and encourages the growth of germs is one way that health issues can arise. Additionally, inhaling VOCs added to cleaning products or resulting from a clash of cleansers presents serious concerns. VOCs to watch out for in cleaning products include:

  • benzene: a known carcinogen linked with bleeding disorders and damage to the central nervous system and reproductive organs.
  • formaldehyde: can instantly irritate eyes, nose, and throat and severe exposure can cause death from throat swelling or chemical burns in the lungs.
  • alcohols: can cause eye, skin, and nose irritation, drowsiness, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
  • toluene: eye and nose irritation, drowsiness, confusion, headache, nerve damage, skin inflammation, and liver and kidney damage.
  • fragrance: can trigger skin irritation, headaches, and allergies; made from an untold number of chemicals, including phthalates, which are linked with birth defects, breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism, and ADHD.

What can you do?

Wherever your household cleaners are used, you and your loved ones come in contact with them. That’s why it’s so very important to go non toxic — not greenwashed non toxic, but truly safe, effective, non toxic.

Avoid toxins in every way you can to protect your health, your loved ones, your surfaces, and the planet. It sounds like an enormous task, but it’s as simple as choosing a trusted non toxic manufacturer of just about everything you need for worry-free shopping and peace of mind.

Wondering if the products (household cleaning products and everything else!) you currently use contain toxic ingredients? (Spoiler alert: If they’re Pure Haven products you’re safe!) In addition to the VOCs mentioned above, check your product labels for these ingredients to avoid. Better yet, connect with your Pure Haven Consultant for their suggestions for beginning your non toxic journey and favorite products.


Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfection: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education (

Identifying Greener Cleaning Products | US EPA

Williams, T. (2024 Jan 29). Be Aware of VOCs in Cleaning Products. Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine. Be Aware of VOCs in Cleaning Products | Cleaning & Maintenance Management (