While cleaning products are meant to clean, their impact on your health may be a little more than you bargained for within your home and body. Many of us were raised to use some of the most hazardous products on the planet and not think anything of it, but we should give it a second thought and focus on using natural cleaning products as opposed to the everyday cleaners you can pick up at just about any store.
Why, exactly, you might ask? It’s been reported that in the year 2000, household cleaning products caused about 10 percent of all toxic exposures that we know of, according to U.S. Poison Control Centers. (1) This was around 206,636 phone calls and 120,434 of those calls reported exposure to children under the age of 6. That’s not all. These cleaners can cause severe burns internally and externally if inhaled or touched and in some cases even death if ingested. That’s why we need to throw these common household cleaners that may include harmful substances like triclosan and phthalates and opt for natural cleaning products and safe eco-cleaners instead.
Best Natural Cleaning Products
So how do we know if a cleaning products are healthy natural cleaning products or potential dangers? Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) can help.
The EWG works hard to rate products for the safety of the consumer and the environment, and provides a thorough list on its. website. To give you an idea of just how many cleaning products are out there, according to EWG, there are 507 all-purpose cleaners, 112 brands and 81 companies. Of those, only 59 products scored an A rating on its safety scale — 48 scored a B, 94 scored C, 199 came in with the largest number of products at a score of D and 151 scored F. This goes to show that you really need to pay attention to the household cleaning products you buy.
EWG evaluates characteristics such as what hazardous substances the product contains, the credibility of the ingredients, the number of ingredients within the product that are hazardous, and whether or not the product/company shares all details, such as exact names of ingredients rather than being vague. It also looks at whether the products are certified as green cleaning products and how the products rate overall.
An A indicates very low toxicity to health and the environment and plenty of information about the ingredients on the label — helping reduce indoor air pollution and toxicity exposure. An “F” means the product is extremely toxic and/or provides little ingredient disclosure. A “C” is given when a product is ranked as an average cleaner posing no “overt hazards” and provides some ingredient information. You can check out the complete methodology to the rating system at the EWG website. (1, 2)
EWG A Ratings: (3)
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner
- Aspen All Purpose Cleaner
- AspenClean All-in-One Concentrate
- AspenClean Glass Cleaner
- AspenClean SuperScrub Powder
- Attitude All Purpose Eco Cleaner
- Attitude Little Ones Toy & Surface Cleaner, Fragrance Free
- Attitude Window & Mirror Eco Cleaner
- Aussan Natural all-purpose cleaner
- Aussan Natural nursery all-purpose cleaner
- Babyganics All Purpose Surface Wipes, Fragrance Free
- Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate
- Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
- BuggyLOVE Organic Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Sweet Orange Scent
- BuggyLOVE Organic Stroller Frame & Accessory Cleaner, Sweet Orange Scent
- Citra Solv Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window & Glass Cleaner
- Concrobium Mold Control
- Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap Baby Mild
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Baby Unscented
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Eucaluptus, Lavender, Tea Tree
- Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner
- Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus All Purpose Everyday Cleaner
- Eco-Me Scrub Cleanser, Emily
- Ecover Cream Scrub
- Fit Organic Cleaner and Degreaser
- Green Shield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner Degreaser, Fresh
- Green Shield Organic Biodegradable Surface Wipes, Fresh
- Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner, Fresh
- Heinz Vinegar Distilled White Vinegar
- iGOZEN Everyday Cleaner
- Imus GTC Greening The Cleaning All Purpose Cleaner, Citrus Sage
- Lion Bear Naked Soap Co. Every Thing Cleaner, Rosemary-Lavender
- Lion Bear Naked Soap Co. Nuttin But Suds, Unscented
- MamaSuds All Purpose Cleaner
- MamaSuds Castile Soap
- Murchison-Hume Premium Glass Polish, Fragrance Free
- Ology Glass Cleaner
- Oology Pure Castile Soap, Peppermint
- Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner, Green Tea & Lime
- Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus
- Simple Green Naturals Glass & Surface Care, Rosemary Mint
- Sun & Earth All Purpose Cleaner, Light Citrus
- Sun & Earth Glass Cleaner, Light Citrus
- Truce All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate Refills, Peppermint
- Truce All-Purpose Cleaner, Peppermint
- Whole Foods Market all purpose cleaner, citrus
- Whole Foods Market all purpose concentrated cleaner, pine
- Whole Foods Market glass cleaner, unscented
- Whole Foods Market green MISSION Organic All-Purpose Spray Cleaner & Degreaser, Lemon Zest
- Whole Foods Market green MISSION Surface Cleaning Wipes, Minty Fresh
I want to make a special mention regarding oven cleaners. Not one oven cleaning product scored in the A, B or C ranking. One product received a D and 11 received Fs. As you can see, these products are very toxic — all the more reason to make your own homemade oven cleaner. (4)
Best Homemade Natural Cleaning Products Recipes
A clean home is very important since toxic mold and mildew can easily build up and cause many health issues. However, you have choices. There are what’s known as eco-cleaners, as I mentioned above, and it’s worth learning about them. You can try some of the more cleaner eco-friendly versions out there, and you can try making your own cleaning products, like my Homemade Melaleuca Lemon Household Cleaner using some essentials oils and a few other clean, environmentally friendly ingredients to help combat those tough, hard-to-clean areas while keeping your home germ-free.
If you choose one of the green cleaning products out there, you still need to read the labels, even of the top green products on the shelf. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) is working very hard to ensure safety regulation, but we still have a long way to go, which means it’s your responsibility to be educated. The NRDC has a Health & Environment program working toward protecting families from toxic chemicals that can cause diseases, such as asthma, autism, problems in children and cancer, to name a few. And children and pregnant women are most susceptible to these dangers. (5)
The EWG reminds us to completely avoid unnecessary cleaners, such as oven cleaners and drain cleaners, which are highly toxic. They suggest using a drain snake or plunger in drains and to try a DIY oven cleaner using baking soda and water.
- Castile Soap
- Tea Tree Oil
- Natural Home Deodorizers
- Pine Oil
- Homemade Dish Soap
- Homemade Laundry Detergent
- Top 10 Lemon Essential Oil Uses and Benefits
- 20 Unique Apple Cider Vinegar Uses and Benefits
- 6 Proven Diatomaceous Earth Uses and Benefits
The Dangers of Common Household Cleaning Products
All too often, we default to what we have always done, and if we can’t physically see something, we think we’re not being harmed by it. But that sparkling countertop is typically where you place dishes and food so the chances of contamination exist, even after using cleaning products. You get the picture: numerous scents, detergents, bleaches and task-specific cleaners made for anything from the bathroom tile to the oven can be dangerous and cause health hazards either immediately or over time, such as skin or respiratory problems, irritated eyes, asthma, burns, and even cancer.
Additionally, we have to think about what happens to the environment. In some cases, cleaners may be OK once disposed of properly, but in others, they may greatly impact the environment and even the water you drink. Again, we have a habit of not thinking too much about what we don’t “see.”
Philip Dickey of Washington Toxics reminds us what to avoid. He notes that the three most dangerous cleaning products that are in most homes home are drain cleaners, oven cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners that are acid-based. If you look, you will see that these products are labeled “DANGER. Corrosive. ” Corrosive products can severely burn skin or eyes, and if swallowed, it could cause burns inside the body too. (6)
It’s important that you don’t mix corrosive products with other products, as that can cause serious problems by emitting even more toxic fumes or other dangerous reactions. For example, never mix bleach and ammonia! This is a very common mistake that’s very harmful because a serious chemical reaction occurs, emitting gas called chloramine. This gas severely irritates the lungs and causes coughing and choking.
Another common mistake is mixing household cleaners with other cleaners that contain chlorine bleach. You probably have chemicals containing bleach or ammonia in your home right now. Chlorine bleach is usually an ingredient in automatic dishwasher detergents, mildew stain removers and other bathroom cleaners. Ammonia is typically found in glass cleaners, metal cleaners, as well as dishwashing liquids. Regardless, while most cleaning products cause irritation to the skin or eyes, the ones labeled as corrosive cause burns as well. I advise that you never have corrosive products in the home and definitely not if you have children of any age.
Instead, opt for natural cleaning products, and always check the validity and ingredients of any potential natural cleaning products you’re considering buying.
Risks of Natural Cleaning Products
Like all ingredients, it’s important to be aware of what you’re using, even if it’s considered safe. Take note of any reactions that a cleaning product may cause for anyone in your home, including pets, since some ingredients, even the eco-friendly ones, can cause allergic reactions. And please make sure your cleaning products are safely stored, even the friendly versions, and kept far away from food, dishes, countertops in both the kitchen and bath, bathtubs and showers at all times.
Final Thoughts on Natural Cleaning Products
I realize it’s easy to to stick with the same thing you have been doing for years, but I want to encourage you to assess the cleaning products in your home so you can create a safe environment for you and your family. This is very serious and requires your attention to make a difference.
Making your own household cleaner is very easy to do, but if you’re not comfortable doing that or just feel you don’t have the time, check out the EWG website and find products with A ratings. You can probably order them online or find them at your local natural grocer. If not, ask it to order it for you. In most cases, the EWG willing to provide whatever customer service you may need, and it’s worth any extra effort to obtain or make natural cleaning products that can keep your home spiff and span without being hazardous to your health.