Phthalates Harmful Effects

Phthalates’ Harmful Effects : Household Cleaners

 Phthalates’ Harmful Effects

Phthlates are nasty ingredients: dangerous, toxic and endocrine disrupting. Plenty of harmful effects. It’s pretty amazing, when you think about it. All you want is for your house to be clean (or at least somewhat clean!) So off you go to your local grocery store to pick up some cleaning supplies: maybe some Comet, Fantastik, maybe some Windex.  You’re all set, right? Well…until you learn about phthalates and phthalates harmful effects on the body.

So let’s pause for just one moment here. How do you know if your house cleaners contain dangerous chemicals, such as phthalates? And what are phthalates, anyway?

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates (aka Diethylhexylphthalate (DEMP), dibutlyphthalate (DBP), Dimethylphthalate and diethylphthalate) are esters of phthalic acid, and have historically been used to soften plastic and increase its flexibility.  But more recently, phthalates have begun to be used in many other ways. They are used in cleaning products, personal care products and air fresheners as fragrance and labeled as such. “Fragrance” sounds so…harmless, right? When we think of fragrance, we think flowers, spring meadows and mountain rain. Fragrance as derived from phthalates, however, is seriously dangerous to our health.

Remember, phthalates (in all of its various forms and name)  are RARELY if ever listed on ingredient labels. But if you see the word “fragrance” on a standard bottle of cleaning solution, laundry detergent or air freshener, you can be pretty darn sure it contains phthalates and will cause harmful effects on the body.

The Harmful Effects of Phthalates

Phthalates are one of those chemical additives the average consumer has only begun to hear about recently. Which is pretty crazy, considering over 95% of the US population has detectable levels of phthalates in their urine.  So what are phthalates’ harmful effects, exactly, and why should you care if they’re in the cleaning products you use?

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and have significant adverse effects on the reproductive system, particularly those of males and are closely linked to low sperm count. What are endocrine disruptors? Endocrine disruptors are those chemicals that actually attempt to mimic the effects of natural hormones, and thereby displace or “disrupt” hormones’ normal activity. Doesn’t sound so great, does it? It’s not.

-Phthalates have been shown to affect unborn children’s sexual development.

-Phthalates negatively affect thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid hormones play an important role in the body’s metabolism, energy and reproductive capabilities.

-There is a strong link between phthalates and breast cancer.

The single most important point in avoiding phthalates in household cleaning products is to AVOID USING PRODUCTS WITH “FRAGRANCE” AS AN INGREDIENT, unless the fragrance is specifically stated to be derived from essential oils such as lemon or lime. When it comes to other products, such as food, baby toys, shampoo and other personal care products, phthalates harmful effects are many and also pose significant dangers; those products will be covered in a separate post. I will also be talking about alternatives to phthalate-laden cleaning products and will link below when those posts are up.

Post Author: Hillary

12 thoughts on “Phthalates’ Harmful Effects : Household Cleaners


    (May 1, 2016 - 8:24 pm)

    Good read and great examples Hillary, I especially like the reference links that back up your writing. This is much needed as there are so many health problems.


    (May 1, 2016 - 8:30 pm)

    Great information, I have actually never heard of Phthalates. I will pay more attention to it from now on. I definitely identify with the description in the first paragraph, Windex is my best friend when it comes to cleaning but your post makes a lot of sense so I’ll have to make sure to check the ingredients of cleaners from now on! Thanks for sharing this


      (May 1, 2016 - 8:51 pm)

      Glad you found it educational! Just be sure to look for the word “Fragrance” in the ingredients list. I am quite sure that windex phased out Phthalates…just found this on their website: “Phthalates are actually a large family of ingredients that have many uses. Our fragrance palette does not include phthalates. In 2008, we began requiring our suppliers to phase out phthalates from the fragrances they supply for SC Johnson products.” However, they still use parabens and glycol ethers as fragrance. Glycol ethers cause birth defects in lab animals and parabens are endocrine disruptors. I will be talking about these in later posts, but for now, your best bet is to use a mixture of vinegar and water; add isopropyl alchohol if you want.

    Constantin Sap

    (May 2, 2016 - 3:02 am)

    Your article about fragrance should make me flinch. But to be honest almost nothing surprises me anymore. Those Bastards are ready to sell their own mother if they will be able to save some cents here and there.
    Thanks for the info Hillary. It is very useful and I am sure people need to hear about this.


    (May 2, 2016 - 9:16 am)

    Wow never knew fragrance contains such harmful chemicals. Now I am going to worry using shampoo with fragrance too. And the fact that it disrupts our normal hormone activity makes it even more scarier.
    As a parent we need to know more about harmful chemicals in products we use daily, so that we can do the best for our family.


      (May 2, 2016 - 3:08 pm)

      Yep, shampoo has the same problem. I will be posting a bit about personal care products including shampoo over the coming weeks but for the time being, I highly recommend using an organic shampoo such as Acura, ESPECIALLY for your children.


    (May 2, 2016 - 3:24 pm)

    A very good and informative read – and one backed up with good research and scientific studies. You have some very interesting stuff on your website.

    J Mario

    (May 2, 2016 - 3:30 pm)

    Wow! great post, I learned something new by reading your post.
    I gotta say I never heard of Phthalates before.



      (May 2, 2016 - 3:37 pm)

      Glad I could provide some good info for you!


    (May 2, 2016 - 7:19 pm)

    Thank you Hillary,
    I have never heard of Phthalates. It is quite scary to see all of the garbage that is out there now. I wish we didn’t have to be so on guard all of the time. The fact that these types of things are hidden and most people don’t know about them is ridiculous. I appreciate all of your examples and hope that you keep more information coming! Thanks again,



      (May 2, 2016 - 8:26 pm)

      thanks for visiting, Steve and I am glad you learned something! Please make wise choices when it comes to household cleaners, and I will be posting some great and healthy alternatives in an upcoming post.

    John savage

    (May 5, 2016 - 6:36 am)

    Wow. Firstly, why are the harmful dryer sheets still allowed to be sold and in the second instance……household cleaners!! Seriously, this is very bad and should not be allowed to happen. What can be done about it? I think buying the products you’re suggesting as a start but what else can be done?

Comments are closed.