Photo: Avoid colourful home cleaners

Colourful cleaners don't work any better. (Credit: Michael Porter via Flickr)

Unfortunately, in Canada, there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to disclose all ingredients and hazards in household cleaning products. What's a person to do?

Avoid dyes. (Or, make your own cleaners.)

Manufacturers add dyes to cleaners for two reasons (as far as I can tell):

  1. For looks (marketing and branding at work!)
  2. To see where you've sprayed

And, they're inexpensive. But they are unnecessary to the cleaning function of the product.

Dyes are found in most types of home cleaners. But they are often derived from petrochemicals, and may be contaminated with trace amounts of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead.

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Why is there concern about synthetic dyes?

  • They may cause cancer. And heavy metals can harm the nervous system and cause other adverse health effects.
  • Dyes in cleaning products can be absorbed through skin or ingested from the soap residue left on dishes.
  • They are found in most types of cleaning products, from dish soap to window cleaner to laundry detergent.

There's more you can do:

  1. Use our shopper's guide to avoid other toxic chemicals in home cleaners
  2. Learn how to read a home cleaner label (to reduce human, wildlife and plant exposure to toxic chemicals)
  3. Embrace our 10 tips to clean "green"
  4. Learn about the 13 other ingredients to avoid in home cleaners
  5. Make your own home cleaners

Which brands would you recommend to others going dye-free?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

September 21, 2016

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