Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the David Suzuki Foundation concerned about household cleaners?

Exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products, like household cleaners, is unnecessary. These chemicals are hazardous to the health of our families, and the environment.

Some chemical ingredients used in cleaning products are associated with cancer, reproductive complications, asthma and other respiratory effects, and allergies. Most of us are constantly exposed to low levels of cleaning products and their residues. And when they're flushed down the drain, these products also affect life in our waterways.

Currently, there are no requirements for manufacturers to disclose all ingredients or warn consumers about chronic health and environmental hazards associated with their products.

I can't find ingredients listed on my household cleaner. What can I do about that?

Manufacturers aren't required to disclose all ingredients or warn consumers about chronic health and environmental hazards associated with their products. Help change product labeling laws by signing up for the Toxic Breakup and taking action.

Why should I participate in the Toxic Breakup challenge?

You don't need to accept toxic chemicals in your household cleaners which unnecessarily risk the health of your family and the environment. And you don't need to feel bad about the products you've been using either. Join the Queen of Green's Toxic Breakup to get the information you need, the courage to act, and fun tips and advice on how to make healthier and more environmentally friendly choices.

How did the David Suzuki Foundation choose products for the breakup letter?

Canada lags behind leading jurisdictions when it comes to requiring manufacturers to identify chemicals associated with chronic health and environmental hazards in household cleaning products, let alone a requirement to list ingredients (unlike cosmetics and food). This makes one thing certain; disclosure and transparency of ingredients in household cleaners is wide open.

  • Break up with Tide because they do not disclose ingredients on this product.
  • Break up with Mr. Clean because they only list active ingredients, like percentage of sodium hydroxide.
  • Break up with Windex because although they list ingredients on their website, you want to see ingredients on the product itself!

How do I properly dispose of my current cleaning products if I want to replace them with safer alternatives?

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is unwanted material or products that can cause illness or death in people, plants, and animals. Correctly dispose of HHW to prevent chemicals from entering our soil, air, and water. If HHW ends up in the landfill, it can leach out, contaminating soil and groundwater.

Proper disposal prevents waste workers from inhaling toxic substances, and reduces fires and explosions. Never pour or flush HHW down drains or sewers. Chemicals can corrode plumbing, cause septic systems to fail, and contaminate our waterways and oceans.

Some examples of household cleaners considered HHW: abrasive cleaners, aerosol air fresheners, all purpose cleaners, ammonia, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaners, fabric softeners, glass cleaners, laundry starch, laundry stain removers, mildew removers, oven cleaners, rug and upholstery cleaners, toilet cleaners, and tub and tile cleaners.

Each Canadian province has a HHW collection program to make it easy for Canadians to dispose of these toxic items with minimal environmental impact. Find information for your province.

A few general rules apply before locating a HHW depot near you:

  • Keep materials in their original containers, or ensure that they are well labeled
  • Do not mix different products together
  • Tightly cap all containers

Where can I learn more about my household cleaners?

Two great resources are featured here in our Toxic Breakup challenge; a Sustainable Shopper's Guide to Cleaners and a Cleaners 101 primer. Also check out the Queen of Green's tried-and-true green cleaning recipes to make your own products that are safe for your family and the environment. The Queen of Green showcases some of the most commonly asked questions she's received about green cleaners on her blog. Subscribe here for on-going information to clean, and live, green.

How can I get others involved?

The more, the merrier! Please consider the following actions to support our work:

  1. Feature a link to our Toxic Breakup Challenge on your website
  2. Post a blog about why you want to see safer household cleaners
  3. Share our challenge on Facebook; join us on Twitter (@DavidSuzukiQoG)
  4. Profile our challenge in your newsletter
  5. Add our web link to your web site

How can I start making my own cleaners?

Rid your home of the petroleum-based ingredients and chemicals found in most cleaning products by making your own. Try the Queen-of-Green tested D-I-Y green cleaning recipes and stain solutions (see links below). They're versatile, affordable, and eco-friendly (many made with food-grade ingredients!).


Girl washing dishes
Lindsay Coulter

Here's the dirt. You've probably been in a long term relationship with your home cleaners. But they may not be the safest, healthiest choice for you and your family.

I've rid my home of chemical cleaners and you can too! Take my cleaning advice (also on Facebook and Twitter).