Finding effective natural cleaning products to replace your good old-fashioned toxic ones can feel like one of the most challenging aspects of going green. It's hard to give up old habits and try new things, especially if you strike out a few times with cleaning products that don't work as well as you'd like. But with a little bit of research, trial and error, and perseverance, you can indeed find natural cleaning products to love and finally say goodbye to the nasty chemical ones.
Actress and natural health advocate Suzanne Somers states in her book Tox-Sick that cleaning products used inside the home are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults, and are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. She also cites an EPA study that found that air pollution inside of homes is two to five times higher, and sometimes 100% higher, than outdoor levels. Additionally, home care and cleaning products (as well as personal care products) are loaded with phthalates and plasticizers, both of which are toxic to the body.
Read the tiny print on the labels of some of the most popular cleaning products, and you'll probably find the statement, "Hazardous to humans and domestic animals." If you have children or pets in your home, they are particularly susceptible to ingesting these chemicals, which have the potential to make them very sick
Thankfully, eco-friendly cleaning products are a lot easier to find now, and they actually work.
Some Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products We Like
This Austin, Texas-based company offers an entire line of natural cleaning products that are made in the US from plant-based ingredients and are all 99.5% natural. The New York Times calls it "The Best All-Purpose Cleaner." Puracy's natural formula is suitable for everyday general cleaning, including most surfaces like glass and stainless steel (recommended with a microfiber towel.) Puracy's Multi-Surface Cleaner will take care of most everyday messes, including food, soda, grease, juice, peanut butter and more. No harsh chemicals, so it's safe around children and pets. It has a light, fresh smell and is biodegradable. Puracy's products are available online at retailers like Amazon, and iHerb.
Made by Clorox, the Green Works line was created by a Clorox scientist in 2008. Green Works now includes an entire line of household cleaning products. This formula uses 97% plant-based ingredients with a small amount of color and scent, making Green Works toilet bowl cleaner an alternative to toxic bathroom cleaners. It cleans without bleach or abrasives, and is safe for septic systems as well as around children and pets, but removes rust, minerals and hard-water deposits easily. Just squirt this gel cleaner around under the rim, let it sit for five minutes, and brush it clean. (For difficult to remove spots, you may need a pumice stone, which is also a green cleaning method.)
Keeping your bath and shower clean shouldn't have to be difficult. Method makes it easy to remove soap scum, water spots and anything else you don't want in your bath area with a lightly secented, nontoxic formula. It's especially good at preventing water spots on glass shower enclosures. Just spray it on and let it do its work-no rinsing required. It's available in a bouquet of scents online at Amazon and Vitacost as well as discounters like Target and Walmart.
For hand-washing dishes, pick one of the garden-fresh natural scents and get washing. Made from all plant-based ingredients and never tested on animals, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Dish Soap cleans as well as the national brands. It cuts through grease, highly concentrated and contains no chlorine bleach, ammonia, petroleum distillates, parabens, phosphates or phthalates. These biodegradable, cruelty-free formulas are packaged in least 25% post-consumer recyclable plastic. Mrs. Meyer's also comes in large containers to refill the smaller bottles, using less plastic packaging. Like all of the Mrs. Meyers's products, Clean Day dish soap is available in all of their herbal scents. Mrs. Meyer's products are available nationwide at discount and online retailers.
If you prefer using your dishwasher, Grab Green's dishwasher tabs are a greener alternative to the popular brands available. Boasting "no phosphates, phthalates, chlorine, dyes or masking agents," Grab Green comes in both a powder and a "pod" formula to clean your dishes as well as their competitors, but more earth-friendly. It cleans with no residue, and works for hard or soft water. They're available in a variety of natural scents, online at Amazon and Vitacost and at some retailers.
One of the best-known plant-based natural home care companies, Seventh Generation's laundry detergents come with natural scents, or without them. The Free & Clear line is especially helpful for those with allergies triggered by scents, sensitive skin, or who would just like to avoid scents altogether. It gets out even the toughest stains and leaves laundry very clean and fresh, even in cold water. Their Natural Concentrated Laundry Detergent even comes in compostable packaging to avoid putting more plastics in landfills. It's suitable for high-efficiency washers, and is highly concentrated, so you use less.
This company makes a number of natural, biodegradable cleaning products for the home that are free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances and colors. One of their best products, Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover, is aimed at pet owners for its odor removing qualities. Using lime extracts, essential oils and enzyme producing cultures not only wipes up odor, but neutralizes it instead of just covering it with perfume so you don't smell anything. It's also good for diaper pails, laundry odors, and other stinky things. You can read about Bac-Out and BioKleen's entire eco-friendly line of cleaning products at their website. They're available at Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, GNC and others, as well as online vendors like Amazon, Vitacost and Chewy.com.
The original eco-friendly powdered cleanser, born in 1886 and is still a great choice for cleaning without harsh chemicals. With feldspar and limestone as its main ingredients, Bon Ami not only doesn't scratch, but doesn't leave any powdery residue and is biodegradable. It was "green" long before anyone ever heard of it. Bon Ami is readily available online as well as in most grocery and discount stores. (The original 1886 formula with a red label is available in some hardware stores, from online retailers and at the Bon Ami website store.)
This is just a sampling of available "green" natural cleaning products. You may have already discovered some that you're happy with, too. The law of supply and demand applies here-the more we request and purchase "green" cleaning products, the more available they'll be, and the easier it will be to cycle toxins out of your home. You can check out some other ways to go green at Going Green: Light, Medium and Deep Green.
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Amy O’Donnell is a blogger and copwywriter. She lives in rural Louisiana with her partner, two dogs and a cat, but considers herself a Texan after 18 years in Houston. Amy writes for a number of different genres, including health, technology and legal. You can find her on Upwork for writing assignments or visit her personal foodie blog over at HeatCageKitchen, where she writes about new trends in food, health, kitchen and occasionally annoying her partner.