What Cleaners Should Your Office Cleaning Company Not Use?

cleaner cleaning the officeAs an owner of a cleaning company, you take pride in your work. Your company does the tough job of cleaning offices and workplaces which are often not very well taken care of. However, many of the cleaning supplies you use may be actually making things worse. Tons of cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can cause adverse affects on those using or around them.

Keep your staff safe and cubicles clean by avoiding certain products and chemicals. We’ll get to the products later, but for now, let’s identify some ingredients within cleaning solutions that you’ll want to avoid.


Phenols are commonly found in disinfectants and chlorinated phenols can be found in toilet bowl cleaners. Phenols are toxic to the respiratory and circulatory systems.

Diethylene Glycol

This ingredient is found in many window cleaning products. It can depress the nervous system.

Nonylphenol Ethoxylate

Nonylphenol Ethoxylate is found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners. While along it may not have incredibly harmful effects, the ingredient biodegrades slowly into very toxic compounds. This ingredient is banned in all of Europe.


Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and causes irritation within the respiratory system. This ingredient can be found in spray and wick deodorizers.

Petroleum Solvents

This is most commonly found in floor cleaners. It can damage mucous membranes.

Butyl Cellosolve

Found in all-purpose, window, and other types of cleaners, butyl cellosolve damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys, and the liver.


Chances are that if you have a product that has fragrance, you have a product with phthalates in it. The problem is that you won’t see this on the label because companies don’t need to disclose it due to proprietary laws. Phthalates disrupt endocrine. A higher phthalate compound in men’s blood corresponded to reduced sperm counts.


Perchloroethylene or Perc, is found in spot removers, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaners. This neurotoxin is also classified as a possible carcinogen according to the EPA. Inhalation of perc can lead to dizziness, loss of coordination, and other symptoms.

Glycol Ethers

Glycol ethers are found in window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners. Butoxyethanol is one of these glycol ethers that you will typically find in window cleaner. In addition to causing sore throats when inhaled, glycol ethers can also play a role in causing narcosis, pulmonary edema, and liver and kidney damage.


Ammonia is found in polishing products as well as glass cleaner. It is a powerful irritant that can affect anyone but can more heavily affect a person suffering from asthma or an elderly person with lung or breathing issues. Extended exposure to ammonia, for example professional cleaners, can often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma.

Sodium Hydroxide

This chemical is found in oven cleaners and drain openers. Many people are more familiar with sodium hydroxide in its alternative name, lye. It is extremely corrosive and can cause severe burns if it touches your skin.

Now that we’ve covered a plethora of chemical ingredients to stay away from, let’s take a look at some of the common products to stay away from.

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

This cleaner is deceiving. Though it says it is “green” it contains butoxyethanol, the one glycol ethers we mentioned earlier. This can damage red blood cells and cause irritation. The all-purpose cleaner also contains a mixture of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants despite its claim to be “non-toxic”.

Despite the cleaner being packaged is a spray bottle, the instructions actually intend for it to be diluted. The spray nozzle is definitely misleading in that regard.

Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover

This toilet cleaner should be avoided for the safety of your employees. The labeling comes with a warnings such as “harmful or fatal if swallowed” and recommends wearing goggles while using this product. Why? Due to the irreversible damage it can cause to your eyes.

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder

Another toilet cleaner to add to the “do not use” list. This cleaner is comprised of 146 chemicals, some of which have been known to cause cancer, asthma, and reproductive disorders. Formaldehyde is a chemical within the mixture that is not found on the label. Chloroform, the chemical used on cloths to knock someone out in the movies, is also found in this powder but not on the label.

Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off, Lysol, Mr. Clean, Spic and Span

You’ve definitely heard of at least one, if not all, of the cleaners above. Most them contain asthma inducing and even causing ingredients such as quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine.

If your office cleaners utilize any of the above products, you may want to inquire as to whether there is a more environmentally-safe alternative so that you are not putting any employees (and your business) at undue risk. A professional office cleaning company that respects it’s clients will likely have choices for you.

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.