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.
Walmart 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.
Green 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:
Whole 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.
Martha 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.
Protective Cleaner Concentrate – This is one of my favorite, every day house hold cleaners ya’ll! The bottle lasts forever because it is highly concentrated. One bottle of the Protective Blend Concentrate from my favorite essential oil company 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 it is made with fabulous essential oils like Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. The blend of oils not only smell divine but they help clean with their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this item.
In a spray bottle mix:
- 1 tsp borax
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp liquid castille soap
- Essential Oils as preferred- I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender and 10 drops Orange
Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well.
- 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.