In 2020, hygiene has taken a whole new role in our lives. From constant hand washing to regular sanitization of home surfaces, it seems that things have never been cleaner! Yet, along with all the cleaning comes all the chemical exposures.
Given the pandemic, it’s fair to say that many of us that usually go all-natural may have jumped on the chemical cleanser bandwagon for a bit. While these cleaners are deemed safe for use — when used properly by the label — the debate is still out about the long-term effects and dangers of inhaling the fumes and allowing the chemicals to leach into the skin.
Which products am I talking about?
It could be anything from highly dangerous antifreeze and Drano to everyday products such as all-purpose cleaners — containing toxic ingredients such as “ammonia, ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate, sodium hypochlorite and/or trisodium phosphate” — and laundry detergent — containing enzymes that loosen stains such as cationic. Most of these products can cause irritation to the skin and eyes and even aggravate skin or lung issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and asthma.
So, how do we sort out which cleaners to use and which to avoid?
While there is a long list of chemicals used in a variety of household cleaners, there are eight specific ingredients that top the list to avoid:
- Phthalates — found in fragranced products, these are known as endocrine disruptors
- Perchloroethylene or “PERC” — found in “dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners,” this is a neurotoxin that is possibly carcinogenic.
- Triclosan — found in “liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled ‘antibacterial,’ it can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
- Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS” — found in “fabric softener liquids and sheets, most household cleaners labeled ‘antibacterial,'” these chemicals are similar to triclosan and help “breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
- 2-Butoxyethanol — found in “window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners,” and contains powerful solvents called glycol ethers that, when inhaled at high levels, can “contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.”
- Ammonia — found in glass cleaner and polishing agents, this substance can severely affect those with “asthma and elderly people with lung issues and breathing problems.”
- Chlorine — found in a host of cleaners including “scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, and [even] household tap water.” Exposure to chlorine can be acute — as a “respiratory irritant” — and chronic — as a “serious thyroid disruptor.”
- Sodium Hydroxide — found in “oven cleaners and drain openers,” this substance also goes by the name lye and is “extremely corrosive.” Exposure to sodium hydroxide causes severe burns and soar throats.
Where’s the middle ground?
You can turn to home cleaning remedies such as white vinegar, natural salt, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, and even lemons. Of course, in these times of extra vigilance, you may want something a bit stronger. Luckily, there are a host of brands that create powerful cleaners that are also all-natural!
Keep in mind that cleaning is not the same as disinfecting! Therefore, while using all-natural cleansers to regularly clean your house is a great way to avoid heavy-duty chemicals, disinfecting on the regular is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for COVID-19 prevention.
1. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate
Mrs. Meyer’s is a wonderful, all-natural household cleaner that has become wildly popular due to its affordability, ease of access, and the fact that each mixture is also filled with amazing natural scents. This Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate is the perfect all-around cleaner to keep under the kitchen sink! It’s a hard-working surface cleaner that will remove stains, spills, and dirt from the floor, tiles, countertops, walls, and more. Mrs. Meyer’s products are biodegradable, cruelty-free, and plant-based. A 2-pack of 32-ounce bottles costs $15.98.
Sarah says “I just wanted to try an all-natural product, this had fairly great ratings and reviews. So when I received it I was excited to open and get to mixing and cleaning! Strange LOL, anyways this was a great smelling product, not too strong and not a chemical smell at all and I loved that! I have migraines and I am unable to do anything with a smell in my house .. my son has severe allergies as well and is same on scents in house. This did not affect him or myself at all! My dogs loved it and it didn’t bother them like most cleaners do ( no sneezing and grunting as usually done with other cleaners). It cleaned well, left no residue, I mopped with it too! It was great! I would and will recommend and buy this product again and I will try the other products in the Mrs. Meyers line of cleaning products!”
2. Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
This Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner is 100 percent plant-derived! It uses potent natural agents such as soap bark, coconut, and corn in order to remove grease and grime from every nook and cranny of the household. This cleaner has been proven effective on toilets, countertops, appliances, upholstery, baseboards, walls, floors, showers, cars, and even sporting equipment! Plus, it’s free of alcohol, petroleum solvents, dyes, parabens, SLS, and SLES. It’s also cruelty-free! A 2-pack of 32-fluid ounce bottles costs $12.99.
Catherine says “I heard about this product on shark tank and when I thought about cleaning my apartment again, I knew I needed to switch from harsh chemicals to something a bit more friendly for all. I cannot stress this enough- this product is amazing and definitely the real deal. Look at how pretty my stove is!!! It’s streak-free and beautiful! This will be the only cleaner I use in my apartment or any home from here out. I’m so impressed, I even bought this stuff to clean my boyfriend’s apartment- yes, that is exactly how much I like this product.”
3. ECOS Earth Friendly Plant-Powered Orange Plus Cleaner
Citrus is one of the most powerful natural cleansers available and ECOS harnesses this power in this ECOS Earth Friendly Plant-Powered Orange Plus Cleaner. This cleanser uses a special blend of naturally pure essential oils of oranges so its safe on sealed stone, hardwood floors, painted surfaces, linoleum, vinyl, porcelain, chrome, and stainless steel. Along with being citrus-based, this cleanser is also 100 percent natural, plant-based, non-toxic, biodegradable, that’s also cruelty-free. You won’t find any harsh chemicals such as ammonia, phosphate, chlorine, glycol and glycol ether, enzyme, dyes, and petroleum. A 2-pack of 22-fluid ounce bottles costs $7.40.
Mayanmoonz says “This is the first time I ever tried the orange scent, but it smells so fresh and works just as well as the parsley which is my absolute favorite! This stuff works on any surface, even glass, and gets it clean and shiny.. I order them in a case of 6 and it turns out to be maybe 3 bucks a bottle. It’s not offered in every grocery store so I’m glad I can get a case online. I won’t ever be without this stuff. Just love it! You will too, highly recommend!”
4. Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub – Scouring Cleanser
There’s nothing synthetic in this Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub – Scouring Cleanser! In fact, all ingredients used in this powerful cleanser have been given an A from the Environmental Working Group, plus it is certified cruelty-free. This product is free of fragrances, dyes, preservatives, and it’s 100 percent biodegradable. Use it on almost any surface from the kitchen to the bathroom to stainless steel. A 12-ounce tub costs $13.99.
Catzi says “I spent hours online and on EWG website to find a clean product without all these harmful chemicals in them. You can’t just trust a company by looking at their website and all the marketing on how clean they are, you want to have EWG test them and confirm if they are indeed chemical-free. Meliora products came first by far. I use their multi-surface cleaner which is amazing, so smell, clean better than anything I have ever tried, and I recently bought the bathroom cleanser which is as good. I have to say that their laundry detergent isn’t great, the powder doesn’t really get dissolved so it’s not my favorite for as laundry detergent, I go with “better life” liquid detergent instead. Other than that, Meliora is what we use the most at our house with two small children so safety was crucial for us.”
5. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
If you love your planet, but you also love a clean house then you’ve got to give this Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner a try! Dr. Bronner’s is a serious biodegradable all-purpose cleaner as it can be used pretty much on any surface including your floors, dishes, furniture, cars, and even your laundry. This cleanser uses plant-based surfactants to remove grease and dirt, which means it’s also free of synthetic dyes, fragrances, preservatives, phthalates, or ammonium compounds. This product is also Leaping Bunny Certified! A 2-pack of 23-ounce bottles costs $31.95.
Amazon Customer says “LOVE this. I use it for EVERYTHING. Period. I clean my sinks, my countertops, carpets, dishes. The scent is amazing. It smells like a fresh pine Christmas tree! A little goes a long way. Has worked well on my hard water stains. For a one-stop cleaner, I’ve been extremely happy.”
6. Puracy All Purpose Cleaner
The bottle may be pretty, but this cleanser does some serious work while also protecting the environment! This Puracy All Purpose Cleaner was created by doctors with consumer safety in mind! It’s not only biodegradable and certified cruelty-free, but also vegan-friendly, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and all-natural. It’s great for almost any surface including kitchen countertops, electronics, smartphones, hardwood floors, car interiors, porcelain, laminate, chrome, and furniture, to name a few! This 2-pack of 25-ounce bottles costs $11.98.
Dreamweaver says “A cleaning product that you can feel good about! As a long-time user of a bleach spray cleaner, I was interested to read about this product recently in the NYTimes (in an article about refrigerator cleaning, saying something like: this is the *best*, all-purpose natural cleaner around) & wanted to try it for myself. Well, it really does work, leaving counter & stovetops streak-free. It arrived quickly, well packaged, and (an additional plus) has a very simple, pretty bottle with a high-quality spray top. The fragrance is very mild. This product has a bright future!”
7. Citra Solv Multi-Purpose Spray
This Citra Solv Multi-Purpose Spray is so powerful it’s used by professional cleaning services, yet is still super environmentally friendly! It’s safe on a wide range of surfaces including “stainless steel, wood, porcelain, and aluminum” and is super tough on grease. This biodegradable cleaner uses orange peel, orange oil, and coconut as it’s base ingredients. A 2-pack of 22-ounce bottles costs $19.97.
Melissa M. Duffy says “This is an excellent product. One of the sets of two was damaged upon arrival..the part where you depress the handle so the nozzle will spray detached. I requested to refund the damaged item and was promptly shipped a new, undamaged item.”
8. Ecover Zero Liquid Dish Soap
This Ecover Zero Liquid Dish Soap takes out all the fluff of cleaning, leaving only a powerful, environmentally friendly, biodegradable cleanser! This product is free of fragrances, dyes, and chlorine. It’s plant-based, non-toxic, and cruelty-free, plus it’s packaged in recycled plastic and plant plastic bottles! Along with being Earth-friendly, this is also tough on grease! A 25-fluid ounce bottle costs $14.18.
cubsfan_84 says “This is a great dish soap that actually works well. It takes away tough grime on dishes with ease. Also, it is rated “A” for containing safe chemicals by EWG and it is good for the environment. Another great reason to buy- it is PETA certified as not tested on animals. Highly recommended!”
9. Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover Foam Spray
Want a more targeted all-natural cleaner? This Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover Foam Spray is perfect for the small to large stains that just simply won’t come out! While most stain removers are filled with toxic chemicals, Biokleen is eco-friendly, non-toxic, plant-based, and free of artificial fragrances, colors, and preservatives. Plus, you can use it on a variety of stain issues including pet accidents, wine, diapers, laundry, carpets, and more. A 2-pack of 32-ounce bottles costs $19.95.
ForeverFreddiesGirl says “I had an extremely challenging job for any product and this product knocked it out of the ballpark. It didn’t even take a whole bottle. I can’t even believe it. Until I found this, absolutely nothing could take the smell out of the cat urine that had soaked into this wooden floor. I’m talking a 25-foot long section. I couldn’t be happier with it and I couldn’t recommend it any more than I do.”
10. Sonett Ecologically Conscientious Organic Biodegradable Gentle Scouring Liquid
This Sonett Ecologically Conscientious Organic Biodegradable Gentle Scouring Liquid is all about the good without any of the bad! It’s 100 percent certified vegan, biodegradable, non-GMO, cruelty-free, certified by Eco-guarantie and EcoControl, and is free of enzymes, petrochemical raw materials, and nanotechnology. Plus, the fragrances are sourced from certified organic ingredients! This product is great for gently cleaning stainless steel, enamel, plastic, glass ceramics, and silver. A 17-fluid-ounce bottle costs $13.55.
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