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  • Writer's pictureGHC

2-BE is not to be.



2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) is a common, toxic, ingredient utilized in cleaners.

It is often found in laundry stain cleaners, oven cleaners, degreasers, carpet cleaners, liquid soaps, glass cleaners, cosmetics, dry cleaning solutions, lacquers, varnishes, hair dyes, nail polishes, skin cleansers, nail polish removers, and rust removers. While it is an organic compound, it comes from the family of glycol ethers. A butyl ether of ethylene glycol. It's what makes it a Class IIIA combustible liquid.

In animal studies, it was found that 2-BE causes red blood cell damage, and hemolytic anemia by ways of inhalation, ingestion, and even inhalation. It also caused adrenal cancer in rats. In humans it's known that it can cause damage to the kidneys, blood, eyes, tremors, anemia, and topical dermatitis; However, it is not classified as a carcinogen in America though the EU calls the class it is a "possible human carcinogen." It carries a higher risk of adverse reactions in people that have a higher BMI as well as people that cope with asthma and other lung diseases. In California, it is listed as a hazardous substance and is currently approved by the FDA for use.


Other common names for 2-BE are ethylene glycol monobutyl ehter, Butyl Cellosolve, ethylene glycol butyl ether, butyl oxitol, Polysolv, EGBE, BE(1), 2-BE, and BEA.


The bottom line is that some of the most famous household cleaners (think window cleaners, surface cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and even handsoaps, contain this ingredient. While one exposure likely won't do much harm long-term exposure through inhalation and absorption of your integumentary system of all of the products stacked together very well could harm. We suggest looking for this product on the back of your cleaners.


If you do happen to find 2-BE on the back of your ingredients list it is easy to switch out. Most of these surfaces can be cleaners with:

  • simple vinegar

  • hydrogen peroxide

  • baking soda

If you find it in your hand soap, there are plenty of non-toxic options available. Our favorite is to purchase goat milk soap from our local Amish community. You can also make hand soap!


*Be on the look out this week for a few of our favorite homemade cleaning options


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