One irony of toxic chemical household cleaners: The ads make you think these cleaners will keep you healthy and safe from germs — nevermind that the cleaners themselves can cause their own, scarier health hazards. Watch the Disinfectants Horror Show below to see just how well-meaning neatnicks can clean their way into serious chronic health problems:

That video’s part of an educational campaign by Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national environmental health group that just released a report called “Disinfectant Overkill: How Too Clean May Be Hazardous to Our Health.” Citing more than 40 peer-reviewed reports and studies, the report says “disinfectant chemicals have been linked to chronic health impacts like asthma, hormone imbalance, potential reduced fertility, and immune system problems.”

Five specific chemicals are targeted: chlorine bleach, ammonia, Triclosan and Triclocarban, ammonium quaternary compounds and nano-silver. And while Women’s Voices for the Earth isn’t calling for an outright ban on those chemicals, it is advocating for very limited use in very specific instances. Curious what sort of situations those may be? Grist’s advice columnist Umbra okays bleach for those who’ve, say, had staph infections and been told to use bleach as a disinfectant by the doctor.

Outside those specific instances, strong chemical cleaners are simply unnecessary. Like many other environmental nonprofits such as Envrionmental Working Group, which is calling for greener cleaning products in schools, Women’s Voices for the Earth encourages people to opt for gentler, greener cleaners that’ll keep things clean, nontoxic style.

Check on the Disinfectant Overkill report (PDF) to see if the cleaning products you’re using contain these five chemicals. Then learn how you can reduce the number of disinfecting products you use — and what greener cleaning products you can switch to. You’ll soon find yourself saving money by buying fewer products, saving time by cutting out unnecessary disinfecting work, and saving your health and that of the planet long-term.

Avoid disinfectant overkill
A new report from Women's Voices for the Earth shows disinfecting to kill all germs can do us more harm than good.