What’s in your cleaning cupboard? Got anything poisonous? Are you sure?
You might have trouble finding out.
Take Petroleum distillates. As part of a remodel, we received a sample cleaning solution as a “gift.” It worked pretty well — magically, wonderfully well. It did everything — polished mirrors, cleaned sinks and counters.
When the sample ran out, I bought a jug of it.
Never mind the strong smell. It made things look really good.
Now the bottle is almost empty. Reorder? Probably worth it to find out what’s in it. Also, maybe it’s time to look into why it smells, and if it does bad things to the water used to wash the cleaning rags.
1. What’s in it? The only ingredient listed on the label is down at the bottom, in small letters, on the back of the jug: Petroleum distillates.
2. What are petroleum distillates? According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), it’s a synonym for Naptha and rubber solvent. It is flammable. Permissible exposure limit: 500 parts per million.
3. How much is 500 parts per million? How much time does it take for “breathing of vapors” to become “prolonged”? Unknown.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, another of my favorites, Spray n Wash laundry stain remover has a petroleum distillate, too. Hmm. Spartan Chemical Company’s material safety data sheet adds more info., pretty much unintelligible to me.
So, all that digging, and still hanging on the fence. Wear gloves. Don’t breathe it. Use sparingly. Already doing all of the above. Should be OK, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
4. Should it be kept out of the water supply? Unknown.
5. Why is it so hard to figure this out?
Partly because there’s a labeling loophole that allows chemical companies to omit the names of ingredients in dyes, fragrances and preservatives. Partly because nobody is sure about the dangers.
Friday (April 11, 2014) Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced the Household Cleaning Products Right to Know Act of 2014 bill, which would require cleaning products makers to disclose ingredients. We can follow how that goes at his website.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group turned out to be a good resource. They looked at 2000 household chemicals in 2012 to see what’s in them, and rated the ingredients in terms of the risks they pose. Protect All Shine Plus isn’t on the list, but lots of other stuff is. Check it out. They give petroleum distillates an F, citing allergy and cancer risks.
OK, ok. Probably not worth the shiny sinks.
Got any substitutes for me?