DANGEROUS HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS: Home, Kitchen, and Bathroom Cleaning Supplies Safety

Overlooking the dangers of household chemicals can have severe consequences on your health. These harsh chemicals, known as VOCs, can cause irritation and respiratory issues on contact. However, long-term exposure is particularly harmful. Knowing which products are safe to buy, how to use them, and how to store them can significantly reduce exposure.

Bathroom cleaning supplies – woman holding a variety of cleaning supplies

Follow along as we break down how to responsibly use the most common household products. Safely using and storing your home, kitchen, and bathroom cleaning supplies is the best way to protect your family from household chemicals.

VOCs In Home, Kitchen, and Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

VOC refers to volatile organic compounds. These chemicals readily evaporate at room temperature and are released into the air as gases. VOCs are found in various household products, including paints, cleaning supplies, fuels, building materials, etc. VOCs are ever-present in the average household, so their health effects are often overlooked.

VOCs have both short and long-term effects on human health. Long-term exposure to VOCs is particularly unsafe because many of these chemicals are known carcinogens. Short-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause skin and body irritation, coughing, sneezing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Long-term exposure to low levels of VOCs can lead to chronic and sometimes fatal respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and even certain types of cancer.

Disinfectant spray – homemade disinfectant spray with lemons

Most people know how dangerous household chemicals are, so low-VOC and VOC-free cleaning products are becoming more widely available. Homemade and natural alternatives, like botanical disinfectant sprays, vinegar-based stain removers, and baking soda detergents, are also options. If your cleaning products contain VOCs but work well for you, there are ways to use and store them safely. Using the proper storage and ventilation techniques minimizes the damage that VOCs cause.

Most Dangerous Household Cleaning Products

Household cleaning supplies that contain certain ingredients or formulations tend to have a higher potential for emitting VOCs. Degreasers, disinfectant sprays, and bathroom cleaning supplies are common examples. Here are the products that contain the highest concentrations of VOCs:

Aerosol Sprays

This includes any cleaning products in aerosol spray form, such as air fresheners, furniture polishes, oven cleaners, and disinfectant sprays.

Oven Cleaners

This includes any cleaning products in aerosol spray form, such as air fresheners, furniture polishes, oven cleaners, and disinfectant sprays.


Degreasers are most frequently used to clean kitchen appliances, floors, and outdoor surfaces like patios and grills. To cut through grease degreases are usually made with chemical solvents that contain VOCs.

Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

Certain bathroom cleaners, especially those designed to remove tough stains, are hazardous. Bathroom cleaning supplies have strong disinfecting properties, which typically indicate higher levels of VOCs.

Disinfectant Sprays

Disinfectant sprays typically contain VOCs due to their sterilizing properties. Spray-form cleaners require extra caution since the chemicals are sprayed directly into the air.

Stain Removers

Carpet or fabric stain removers usually contain VOCs to help lift stains. Heavy-duty stain removers tend to have higher concentrations of VOCs.

These are just the products that contain the highest concentration of VOCs. Most cleaners on the market contain VOCs in some capacity. The general rule of thumb is – the stronger the cleaner, the higher the VOC concentration.

Why Are Bathroom Cleaning Supplies Extra Dangerous?

VOCs are usually found in high concentrations in bathroom cleaning supplies because they’re good at breaking down and removing tough stains, grime, and soap scum. These products contain chemical solvents, which allow for a deeper clean. Additionally, bathroom cleaning supplies are usually heavily scented. These scents come from fragrance chemicals made of VOCs. VOCs can also be added to cleaning supplies to help stabilize the formulation and extend the product's shelf life.

Best bathroom cleaning supplies – clean, white bathroom with folded cleaning towel on counter

Despite the benefits of using VOCs in cleaning products, these chemicals are still hazardous and must be handled carefully. This is especially true for cleaners that release chemicals directly into the air, like aerosol and disinfectant sprays. Homeowners need to use and store these products properly to protect their homes and families.

Low-VOC and VOC-free cleaning supplies exist, but some argue they are less effective. Heavy-duty cleaning products can be used safely in moderation if the homeowner takes appropriate precautions. Proper ventilation, filtration, protective clothing, and storage must be considered.

How To Safely Store Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

The best way to store bathroom cleaning supplies is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product label. The label should provide specific guidance on storage requirements, including temperature ranges and other conditions. Most common cleaning products like multipurpose cleaners and disinfectant sprays must be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. Avoid storing cleaning supplies in direct sunlight or near heat sources since this can increase the chances of VOCs evaporating from the containers. Make sure all containers are tightly sealed when not in use. This helps prevent VOCs from evaporating into the surrounding environment.

For loose products like powder cleaners, transfer to an airtight container specifically designed for chemical storage. These containers help prevent VOCs from escaping into the air and reduce the risk of spills.

It’s also important to store different cleaning products separately to avoid potential chemical reactions or spills. This is especially important for products that contain bleach, which should be kept away from ammonia-based cleaners to avoid dangerous chemical reactions.

If you have young children or pets at home, using childproof locks on cabinets or storage areas where cleaning supplies are stored is a good idea. This helps prevent accidental exposure and ingestion. Extra caution must be taken for aerosol and disinfectant sprays due to potential vapor inhalation.

If you’re unsure how to use or store a cleaning product, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Safely using products containing VOCs is possible if the proper precautions are taken.

How To Keep Chemicals Out Of Indoor Air

When using products containing VOCs, always work in a well-ventilated area. If possible, open windows and use fans to increase air circulation during and after cleaning to reduce chemical exposure. This is especially true if you are using aerosol and disinfectant sprays.

You should also store household cleaning supplies in a well-ventilated area and away from living spaces. Make sure all bottles and containers are tightly closed so spills and evaporation are less likely to happen.

Best disinfectant spray – window open with curtain blowing out

Maintaining proper indoor air quality practices, such as regularly changing your air filters, using activated carbon filters, and getting your AC tuned up, can help filter out harmful VOCs and keep them out of your indoor air. Minimizing VOCs in your indoor environment is an easy and practical way to increase indoor air quality!

Do Air Filters Remove VOCs?

Not all air filters are designed to remove VOCs. Standard filters primarily target larger particles like dust, pollen, and pet dander. However, certain air filters, such as activated carbon filters, can effectively remove VOCs from indoor air. Activated carbon is highly porous and has the ability to adsorb VOCs. When air passes through the filter, the VOCs are trapped in the carbon's pores, preventing them from recirculating in your indoor air.

It’s important to change your filter at least once every three months. Air filters get clogged over time and lose the ability to trap pollutants, including VOCs. A clogged filter can also break your HVAC system and cause inefficient energy usage.

If you’re unsure if you need an Odor Eliminator charcoal filter or if a standard MERV filter will suffice, take our MERV Match Quiz. Choosing the right MERV rating can make you all the more comfortable at home! Filterbuy makes the highest quality air filters in any size and across 3 MERV ratings, so you can be sure we have what you’re looking for. Start by determining which MERV rating will suit your home the best!