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Toilet Cleaner Chemicals and the Environment: 10 Facts and Green Alternatives

Cleaning toilets – even when they’re in your own home – is often a gross business. However, it should gross us out even more to think of the cocktail of toxic chemicals we use to clean the toilet bowl. Most of us are unaware of the dangers, but a quick read of the warnings on the back of the bottles will reveal the risks of using these toilet cleaner chemicals. Maybe then you’ll be motivated to switch to more natural alternatives.

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If you’ve started your green living journey or you’re simply worried about the amount of chemicals in your household, getting rid of chemical cleaners is a good step to take. But before we share with you some green ingredients that will make your toilet bowls sparkle, let’s see why commercial toilet bowl cleaners are so toxic.

Dangers of Commercial Toilet Cleaner Solutions

Even though you might not be aware of it, a lot of harsh chemicals make up the commercial toilet bowl cleaners we use. In addition to posing a health threat to you and your family, they also pollute your home’s environment.

Hydrochloric acid, for example, is an active ingredient found in many brand toilet cleaners. It’s an extremely toxic and corrosive chemical that poses an alarming risk to children and pets, but most to the unfortunate family member (usually the mother) who has to clean the toilets.

Inhaling hydrochloric acid fumes is particularly harmful to the throat, nose, and the entire respiratory tract. Wearing gloves is often recommended on the toiler cleaner package because hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive should it come in contact with the skin.

Chlorine bleach is another extremely harmful ingredient. It is highly caustic, which means it burns, destroys, and corrodes living tissue. Using bleach burns your eyes, skin, and nose, and it also aggravates asthma. Both of these ingredients are very powerful in kicking germs in the gut, but they’re not worth polluting your home and the risk of health hazards.

Facts about Toilets

Whether we like to talk about it or not, toilets are among the undeniable necessities of life. We all need one. Most of us are trying to keep them clean, but before talking about green alternatives, let’s look at some quirky facts about toilets that you might not have known.

1. Accidents happen – Over 40,000 of Americans hurt themselves in the bathroom annually. The toilet seems innocent enough, yet some say King George II died falling off one in 1760. In reality, he suffered an incipient aortic aneurysm that caused his death. He just happened to be on his private throne at the time!

2. Time consuming – On average, people in the UK visit the loo between 6 and 8 times every day – the equivalent of around 2500 times every year. When you add it all together, you realize that we spend almost three years of our lives using the bathroom. So nature does indeed call! Fun fact: Toilets are flushed more times during the Super Bowl halftime than at any time in the year.

3. TP wins again – According to some estimates, the average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day, which amounts to about 36.5 billion rolls of used toilet paper each year.

4. Toilet chat – According to a study by the charity Tearfund, more than 8 million people in the UK use their smartphones while in the bathroom. The situation is even more intriguing in the US, where over 7 million people said they dropped their device into the toilet bowl at least once.

5. Important research – A study spent more than $100,000 to determine if most people prefer their toilet paper to be hanged with the flap in front or behind the holder. The answer? Three out of four people prefer the flap to be in the front.

Nasty Yet Necessary

6. Toilet situation worldwide – In 2015, approximately 2.6 billion people across the globe did not have access to sanitary toilet facilities. Rural areas of India and China are the worst off. Consequently, almost 1.5 million children under the age of five die annually from diarrhea globally.

7. Invention and perfecting – While he was not the one to invent the toilet, Thomas Crapper perfected the siphon flush system we still use today. The flushing toilet was, in fact, invented by John Harington in 1596.

8. Away from home – Using a public toilet can be quite conflicting. It doesn’t help to know they play host to up to 40,000 germs (especially on the door handle). Also, fun fact, the first toilet cubicle in a row is usually the least used, so it might be the cleanest option.

9. It’s a nasty business – Together, all of the people on Earth produce some 7 billion liters of poo each day. Meanwhile, proper washing of hands could save the lives of 3.5 million kids every year.

10. Air-fresheners are a must – We’ve been trying to get rid of the nasty smell of our business since forever. The first toilet air-fresheners were craftily made of pomegranates studded with cloves.

Green Toilet Cleaners

If you want to skip the toxic cleaners, there are some natural ingredients you can use to keep you toilet bowl sparkling. Not only are they the safest for your family, but they’re also readily available and great performers.

  • White vinegar. Green-living websites cannot stop singing the praises of the wonderful vinegar as a natural cleaner; and for good reason. Vinegar is a mild acid, which means it’s ideal for disinfecting, eliminating odors – all while being extremely safe.
  • Borax. Not the same thing as boric acid, which you should not use due to its toxicity. Borax is an amazing multi-purpose cleaner that deodorizes, whitens, and easily removes stains.
  • Baking soda. It can be used for almost anything; for deodorizing and scouring a toilet bowl. While it doesn’t fight germs, it can keep your bowl free of stains and ugly rings.
  • Citric acid or lemon juice. Citric acid makes it easier to get rid of the bad-smelling minerals in your toilet. It can also help in diminishing tough toilet stains caused by hard water.
  • Essential oils. Pure essential oils – many of which are plant-based – boast antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your cleaning solution to kill most forms of bacteria. You can also use rosemary, lavender, peppermint, citrus oils, and eucalyptus for bathroom cleaning.

For a thorough infographic about the history of toilets and fun facts about the private throne, check out this article.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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