5 Most Toxic Household Cleaners


Toxic Cleaners www.marycrimmins.com

We all know that there are lots of toxic chemicals floating out there in the world. However, when it comes to chemicals, cleaning products are some of the top offenders.

When we shop for cleaning products, we are looking for one thing and one thing only. It better CLEAN! Companies throw all kinds of chemicals, fragrances, preservatives to make sure that happens. And let’s be honest, they work.

But what price are we paying?

According to the Organic Consumers Association: “In 2000, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers, accounting for 206,636 calls. Of these, 120,434 exposures involved children under six, who can swallow or spill cleaners stored or left open inside the home.”

Cleaning products provide us with a range of health concerns. Some cause hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are linked with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer. No thanks!

Let’s take a look at the top offenders. And let me be clear. Anything you buy that is commercial is going to be somewhat toxic. Check out Environmental Working Groups website to check out which cleaners beyond this list are hazardous. Believe me, I only picked 5 out of about 200 that scored an “F”.

5 Most Toxic Household Cleaners:


Lysol Disinfectant Sprays - Anything like this that you are spraying into the air and breathing in is highly toxic. The MIPA-BORATE chemical is said to cause developmental, endocrine and reproductive effects. Other ingredients such as AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE and ETHANOLAMINE cause harmful respiratory effects, general systemic/organ effects, nervous system effects, irritant to skin, damage to vision, and chronic aquatic toxicity. Plus the PETROLEUM GASES damage DNA and are linked to cancer.


Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Spray Cleaner - You have to love Mr. Clean, an iconic bald headed man for decades. However, anything Mr. Clean should be labeled Mr. Toxicity. Ingredients like ETHANOLAMINE again, causing respiratory effects, general systemic/organ effects along with chronic aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, and skin irritation/allergies/damage. Even worse the ingredient DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL BUTYL ETHER is linked to cancer, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, damage to DNA, respiratory effects, nervous system effects, digestive system effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, and damage to vision.


walmartbleachWalmart Great Value All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach - Oh Walmart, of course you made this list. Made with AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE  which causes respiratory and vision issues. Plus a couple other super chemicals called 2-BUTOXYETHANOL and PROPYLENE GLYCOL METHYL ETHER which are linked to digestive system effects, blood-related effects, damage to DNA, cancer, general systemic/organ effects, cancer, nervous system effects, respiratory effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, and damage to vision.


greenworksGreen Works “Natural” Cleaning Wipes - This is green-washing at its finest. Sadly anything from the Green Works line from Clorox is on the worst offender list. Their preservatives, cleaning agent chemicals and fragrances are linked to cancer, general systemic/organ effects, acute aquatic toxicity, respiratory effects and a major skin irritant.



 Trader Joe’s Next to Godliness Multi-Purpose Cleaner - This one surprised me. I really like Trader Joes and think they do a pretty good job with their products. However, the results don’t lie. It ranks as a moderate concern for cancer,  damage to DNA, general systemic/organ effects, respiratory effects and also a high concern for the environment with acute aquatic toxicity.

My Top Picks:



wholefoodsWhole Foods Market All Purpose Cleaner – Rated “A” by EWG. The only concern here is the sulfates that definitely have issues with aquatic toxicity. Plus, beware of anything that is scented, this one has synthetic citrus oil that is linked to cancer, and respiratory effects. However, the small dose gives it that A rating.


prod_allpurpose_fullMartha Stewart All Purpose Cleaner – Good ole Martha. Her products are 99+% plant- and mineral-based, biodegradable ingredients. No added fragrances, only natural, clean scent. No artificial colors or preservatives. No sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). No ammonia. No animal testing or animal by-products. Plus recyclable packaging. Horray!




Honest Multi-Surface Spray - I love Jessica Alba’s company Honest. Everything they make is phosphate, sulfate and harmful chemical free. This spray is free from ammonia, SLS, SLES, fragrances, glycol, dyes, phosphates, 1,4-dioxane, chlorine, bleach, DEA, formaldehyde, triclosan & caustics. It’s all based online and they have tons of great cleaners, diapers and bath and body products. Click here to order.


doterra-on-guard-cleaner-concentrate OnGuard Cleaner Concentrate - I seriously love everything doTERRA makes, but this is one of my favorites. The bottle lasts forever because it is highly concentrated. One bottle of the Concentrate refills 12 spray bottles to use as a multipurpose cleaner. It is free of petroleum, ammonia, chlorine bleach, borates, phosphates, nitrates, and volatile organic cleaning compounds. Plus is is made with OnGuard CPTG essential oils of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. The oils not only smell divine they help clean because they are anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Purchase here.


cleaning-supplies-green-eco-home-products-590jn051010-1273507430DIY - Seriously, you really can make  your own nontoxic cleaners. So easy! From lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar to a simple recipe like this:

In a spray bottle mix:

  • 1 tsp borax
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp liquid castille soap
  • doTERRA essential oils as preferred- I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender and 10 drops wild orange

Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well.

Quick Tips:


  • Avoid cleaners marked “Danger” or “Poison” on the label, and look out for other tell-tale hazard warnings, such as “corrosive” or “may cause burns.”
  • Avoid products that list active ingredients of chlorine or ammonia, which can cause respiratory and skin irritation and will create toxic fumes if accidentally mixed together.
  • Protect water quality and aquatic life by purchasing cleaners that are phosphate free
  • Don’t buy into the “green washing” “natural” or “eco-friendly” claims. Even if a cleaner says organic that doesn’t mean anything outside of food. Those organic cleaners can still contain VOCs which have fumes that can cause brain damage and cancer.

What are your favorite non-toxic cleaners?

Leave a comment below and share your finds. 


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22 Responses to “5 Most Toxic Household Cleaners”

  1. Tabitha October 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    What do you think of the vinegar/blue Dawn mix that people love to use? I’ve used it once and it’s wonderfully effective but is it dangerous?

    • Mary Crimmins October 11, 2013 at 4:11 am #


      I haven’t heard of that. Is is made by Dawn? I have to say anything with artificial colors is a red flag for me. You can always look at the ingredients on Environmental Working Group’s website to check it out. Also, if it’s made by Dawn – I would stay away.

  2. Barbara Karen Hunter November 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Oh, no! I use Trader Joe’s product for everything! I am crushed! The Dawn/vinegar concoction Tabitha is referring to is semi-homemade…you mix Dawn with white vinegar to get rid of soap scum n the glass shower doors. It’s the only thing ice found that works, without going into a really toxic route.

    • Loretta March 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

      I used to own a janitorial business. With that business came the need to use industrial products so I could speed up cleaning time and cut costs buying a concentrate rather than a product on the store shelf. The products were so powerful that once I dripped some on the tail gate of my truck and immediately it stripped the paint all the way down to the metal. You can imagine what it did to my hands! My friend told me to use baking soda in powder form in my shower and to add doTERRA oils to kill bacteria. When I tried it I was amazed at how well it tackled the job of cleaning soap scum out of my shower! Plus, my shower didn’t build up the soap scum as quickly as before. There was an invisible film of protection there. There’s really no need to use toxic chemicals to clean your home.

      • Mary Crimmins March 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

        What a great change to make! Plus using oils smells so much better :)

    • Gloria April 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

      I find the Trader Joe’s one hard to believe, can you please provide the source of your research? i have a severe adverse reaction when im in contact with ANY chemical product, doctors cant figure it out yet, however, trader joes multipurpose cleaner is the only product that i can use without getting sick in 60 seconds.

    • Lindsey February 20, 2015 at 6:50 am #

      For over a year now I’ve been using H2O At Home. It’s a natural, chemical free line of home cleaners and natural & organic personal care line. You should check them out. Barbara Karen Hunter, you should look into the Cleaning Clay through H2O. It works beautifully on shower doors for removing limescale!

  3. debbie March 22, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    what about Mrs. Meyers Household Cleaners..?.i just love the lavender scent products!

    • Mary Crimmins March 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Hey Debbie, great question! Go to that website I mentioned (Environmental Working Groups website) and search for the brand or even the specific product you’re wondering about. It will list the various concerns and other information. thanks!

  4. G! June 4, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    I have been using white vinegar without dilution into a spray bottle for at least 20 or more years. As a caveat, we paint our walls with semigloss. This makes them easier to wash.

    I read that both white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are disinfectants alone, but by using one, letting it dry, then using the other and letting it dry it is a complete winner. I just use the vinegar on **all** washable surfaces. Also in rinse cycle of laundry.

    • Mary Crimmins June 23, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      Old fashioned vinegar is a great cleaning agent that’s been around for ages. When I look for vinegar I go with Organic distilled White!

  5. Mini Clean July 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Oh my! 3 out of 5 most toxic household cleaners are what I’m currently using. I was really shocked specially for the Lysol and Green Works! Green works labels says its natural. (facepalm) I guess I should start doing the DIY house cleaners then for that’s the only way I can assure myself and my family that everything is safe and toxic free.

    • Mary Crimmins July 21, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      haha, *facepalm*, exactly! I felt the same way when I read about some of my go-to cleaners. But now I have total confidence in what I use–no harsh chemicals here! Thanks for your comment!

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  7. Cleaning Service September 22, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    Thank you for a great read!

    As a cleaning business here in Norwich, Norfolk UK we are not allowed to use many of those products (or similar) “at all”. Our employees are simply not covered by insurance company for these types of harmful products.

    Always read the label and get a data sheet from the manufacture ……

    Some great tips


  8. Kevin Kyrie November 1, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    This is a very nice post to know about 5-most toxic household cleaners.

  9. Lorie February 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    What spray product can I substitute for Lysol which kills germs?

    • Mary Crimmins February 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

      I use doTERRA’s On Guard concentrate. Mix it with some water and put in a spray bottle Kills germs and is all natural!

  10. Fortune February 16, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Lysol spray is the worst thing ever it is not safe for kids and it is dangerous to us adults. I sprayed some in my house and immediately it started to bother both my husband and I it gave us a bad cough we quickly aired the house out.Do not buy it it will cause you harm .

    • Mary Crimmins February 20, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      It’s so toxic! That’s why I love using my On Guard concentrate cleaner. It’s gentle and still kills all the germs :) Plus it smells good!


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