What Are Monoterpene-Based Cleaning Products?

Many homeowners love the citrusy smell of a freshly mopped floor. However, a recent study has shown that this clean smell caused by monoterpene-based cleaning products might be accompanied by an alarming decline in your household air quality, per ScienceAdvances. According to ScienceDirect, monoterpenes are aromatic molecules found in nature that can be captured from organic materials and used in scented products such as perfumes and household cleaners. While monoterpenes are technically natural, the degree to which they're used in household cleaners appears to be dangerous for those who are exposed for long periods of time. 

Earth.com explains that the monoterpenes in household cleaners are so dangerous because of their tendency to react with ozone particles in your home. When this occurs, the monoterpenes are transformed into more dangerous molecules that are known to irritate the lungs and cells of those who are unlucky enough to be exposed to them for long periods. As such, the amount of air pollution caused by a routine cleaning with a monoterpene-based cleaner is comparable to a traffic-congested city street.

Mitigating the risk of monoterpene-based cleaners

Compared to many of the other toxic things humans come into contact with every day, monoterpene-based cleaning products probably shouldn't be at the top of your list of products to banish from your home forever. While VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) such as monoterpene can come with a host of health issues, including headaches and nausea (per the EPA), it's important to note that a bi-weekly deep cleaning probably won't land you in the hospital anytime soon.

On the other hand, people who use monoterpene-based cleaning products often may have reason to take added precautions, according to Inverse. While cleaning during the morning or evening hours to avoid elevated ozone levels may not be possible for everyone (especially professional cleaners on a fixed schedule), wearing a mask while cleaning or using non-monoterpene cleaners are easy ways to limit exposure. Also, an air filtering fan can be placed where you are cleaning to filter out significant amounts of ozone and monoterpene.