Comet’s Tale, A Safety Review

Written by:

John Goss

06/25/2014

Comet disinfectant cleanser is just one of several products sold that are meant to “gently” scour our bathtubs, showers, sinks, and tile. Others include Ajax, SoftScrub, and more. These cleaners are effective because they rely on chlorine bleach, and/or a bunch of other chemicals that are often not even listed on the label (which is somehow legal).

A chemical analysis of Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder showed that it, “…emitted 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected – formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene – are not listed on the label.” 

You might assume that there is regulation regarding cleaning products but, in fact, there are no regulatory agencies that monitor the products that are brought into your home. Manufacturers are protected by trademark law loopholes, so they don’t have to list their ingredients.

What’s Wrong with Bleach?

Chlorine (bleach) is a very strong corrosive substance that can easily cause damage to the eyes, nasal passages, and lungs simply from inhaling the fumes. In fact, chlorine was the main ingredient for the most damaging gasses used in WWI. In the workplace, chlorine is regulated and gloves and goggles are required when handling it…but at home there are no such requirements, and even better, all of the chlorine we use eventually gets washed down the drain and ends up causing harm to the environment.

Chlorine is used to treat municipal water supplies. It is so toxic that it very quickly kills bacteria and other life forms that might take root in stored water systems. This is good because it shields us from some pretty nasty pathogens, but it should be removed from drinking and bathing water before we use it. (This is part of the reason I always tell my clients to invest in a good water filter.)

How then, can these cleansers call themselves “gentle” if they use chlorine? Prior to the introduction of chlorine into scrubbing powders, the main agents used to get things clean were tiny abrasives that literally scrape away the stains. Of course, over many decades of use, the finish on sinks, tubs and toilets would eventually degrade due to the repeated abrasive action. Bleaching away stains with chlorine is less abrasive so they call that method “gentle”.

So by using less abrasive, (but more toxic), cleaners we might be extending the life of our bathroom/kitchen fixtures, while simultaneously possibly shortening our own lives, or compromising our family’s health. I don’t know about you, but this does not sound like a good trade-off to me.

Back to the Future

Sonett Scouring Fluid from gimme the good stuff

There are alternatives. Here at Gimme the Good Stuff, we use and now sell three such options:

  • Tandi’s Scouring Powder, which is handcrafted in Lancaster, PA, is super effective at cleaning all types of surfaces–including stainless steel, bathtubs, tile, toilet bowls, sinks and more. The essential oil combination boasts antibacterial properties, cuts grease, and best of all it smells fresh and delicious. Customers who’ve tried Tandi’s scouring powder rave about it and come back again and again.
  • We recently started carrying the German-made Sonnett scouring fluid, which we also love, and which also passed our safety review process with flying colors.

Don’t want to buy from us? Even old-fashioned Bon Ami is relatively innocuous, and much safer than Comet.

I suggest you stop treating your home like a battlefield, and opt for one of these safe and effective alternatives.

Stay sane,

John, Certified Holistic Health Coach

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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  1. Tammy Ballard Avatar
    Tammy Ballard

    What do you think of Norwex products in particular the Cleaning Paste as a replacement for Comet?

  2. Sarah Avatar
    Sarah

    Do you recommend Zum clean sink & surface scrub?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      We cannot recommend Zum products in general. The clean sink surface scrub is of the least concern of all their products but it still has a couple of “interesting” ingredients.