There are few things better than a squeaky-clean home that smells yummy. Unfortunately, most of the products out there that help us get our home so shiny are loaded with toxic ingredients that are bad for us, the environment, and our pets.
The cleaners we buy in the store have some of the most hazardous chemicals that exist, yet we use them without considering the damage they can cause. The truth is that almost 10% of poisonings in the U.S. are caused by cleaning products, and over half of those exposures are to small children. (1)
We buy them because most natural products on the market are pricey, they don’t often do the job as well as the more toxic cleaners, and we don’t really think about it.
We’re raised to use these products and we all lived to tell the tale, so what’s the big deal?
Believe it or not, going green with your cleaners by making them yourself can save you money, they work great, and they do no harm.
In fact, some of them can even make you healthier!
The ingredients in household cleaners are dangerous for your health.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are plenty of chemicals in store-bought cleaners that can cause health issues and even death.
Drain, oven, and toilet bowl cleaners are the worst of the bunch because they often cause skin and lung burns. Mixing products that include ammonia and bleach can also be deadly because a chemical reaction occurs that exposes us to noxious fumes that can cause permanent damage when inhaled.
There are also plenty of hidden toxins that you wouldn’t think would be bad for your health.
Phthalates, which are found in the fragrance in many household cleaners, dryer sheets, toilet paper, and air fresheners, are known endocrine disruptors. They can mess up your hormones, cause low sperm count in men, and are responsible for many reproductive disorders.
A study published in the Toxicology and Industrial Health journal found that regular exposure to phthalates causes a 45% decrease in infant birth size. (2)
2-Butoxyethanol is another nasty chemical that is found in window, kitchen and multi-purpose cleaners, and hand sanitizers. It can cause sore throats, liver damage, and kidney failure. If you use it in an enclosed space, like the bathroom or shower regularly, you’re going to get way more than you should in your system.
It’s also bad for the environment. The EPA has it on its hazardous waste list, and it’s found in our water, soil, and even the air we breathe. (3)
Perhaps the most toxic thing we use without thinking about it is dryer sheets. Yes, those little sheets that make your towels fluffy and smelling like rain are incredibly bad for you.
Three of the most common ingredients- chloroform, camphor, and ethyl acetate– are on the EPA’s hazardous waste list because they are neurotoxins that cause dizziness, central nervous disorders, depression, and cancer.
Is the fluffy softness really worth it?
All-natural cleaners are better for the environment.
Not only are the chemicals harsh on your body, but they can wreak havoc on the environment. If it’s bad for you, chances are it’s going to affect plants and air the same way.
When cleaning products are washed away, they can get into the water supply and the soil, which affects everything from the food we eat to our drinking water. (4) It also affects wildlife and natural habitats.
Spray bottles introduce the chemicals into the air, so we often breathe in some seriously harmful stuff.
Another big issue with store-bought cleaning products is the packaging they come in. Most of them are sold in plastic bottles that can’t be recycled.
Making your own cleaning supplies and storing them in reusable glass containers is a much better solution!
Natural cleaners are a great alternative to keep your home sparkling.
Have we freaked you out yet? Don’t worry, while there are plenty of natural cleaning companies out there, you can easily make your own with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your home!
The ingredients of most natural cleaners, even the pricey ones, actually aren’t that fancy. Here are some common ones:
None of these ingredients are going to harm you, your skin, or the environment. Even if you’ve got little ones, human or animal, who like to chew on things or hang out on the floor, they’ll be safe.
Essential oils are commonly added to eco-friendly products and can be beneficial for your health just by smelling them.
Aromatherapy does wonders for both the body and the soul, so mixing it with your cleaning products is a great way to get the health benefits of essential oils.
They’ll leave your skin feeling great, your health intact, and your home smelling delicious, without using harsh chemicals.
Baking soda is another common ingredient in natural cleaners that’s good for you. It creates alkalinity in the body, so don’t worry about inhaling it while you’re cleaning. It helps with pH balance, stomach issues, and digestive issues.
You’ve probably seen castile soap all over the place in natural grocery stores, but are wondering why it’s better than using other soaps.
Castile soap is made from vegetable oil and lye, instead of the chemicals that other soaps are made from. While it’s probably not a good idea to rub lye straight on your skin, as it’s an irritant, it’s not dangerous.
Not all castile soaps are created equal, though. The rule of thumb should be the fewer ingredients, the better. Manufacturers like to sneak in harmful ingredients like synthetic fragrances, so make sure to check the label.
If you want to get really eco-friendly, you can make your own castile soap.
Some common oils used in natural cleaners are:
- Tea tree
Making your own cleaners really is the best choice. The ingredients in cleaning supplies aren’t regulated by the government, so it’s hard to know if you’re getting what’s listed on the label.
It also makes it easier to go totally organic.
DIY cleaners are fun, not difficult to make, and easy on the budget. Here are a few basic recipes to get you started.
DIY All-Natural Cleaner Recipes
All Purpose Cleaner
You can use this incredibly easy to make a spray on just about any surface, including glass! It will give a streak-free shine, won’t leave a residue, and it cuts through grease with ease. It also works well on floors.
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- 2 cups of purified water
- Juice of one lemon, strained
- 20 drops of essential oil
- Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, spray, then wipe up just like you would a store-bought cleaner.
Dryer sheets can be toxic because of the synthetic fragrances used. These are easy to make, inexpensive, and you can personalize them with whatever essential oils you prefer.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Cloth scraps, preferably natural cotton
- 30 drops of essential oils
- Glass container with lid
- Mix the vinegar and essential oils
- Place the cloth scraps in the container. Natural cloth baby wipes work great.
- Moisten the cloths with the vinegar solution, but don’t saturate them. It’s okay if you have a little bit of solution left over. Mix it with a little water and use it to clean kitchen counters.
- Use as needed.
Tip: If they dry out a bit, no worries! Remoisten them with a little vinegar and you’re good to go.
Another good way to soften your clothes is with wool dryer balls. You can put a few drops of your favorite essential oils to give your clothes that fresh, clean laundry smell.
Natural Scouring Powder
For big messes that are hard to clean, like soap scum, calcium deposits, or ovens, baking soda is a good alternative to the harsh chemicals in store bought cleaners. It might take a little more elbow grease, but it’s worth it for your health and the environment to switch to a green option.
- ½ cup washing soda
- ½ cup sea salt
- 1 cup baking soda
- 20 drops essential oil (optional)
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the essential oils for scent. The easiest way to use this is by using a mason jar with holes poked in the lid. Sprinkle it wherever you need to clean, and use a damp, sturdy sponge or cleaning brush.
You can spray a little white vinegar onto the powder for an even better cleaning, and let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing.
Other All-Natural Refresher and Deoderizers
If you’re not into spending the time to make your own all-natural products (it can be a drag), here are some AWESOME ones that you can find on Amazon. These are all created by co-founder of this website, Alex Nerney’s sister, Beth Nerney!
She’s really passionate about removing as many chemicals as possible from her home, especially when they aren’t necessary. She’s also a big fan of essential oils and uses them a lot in her products.
These are her personal product line below that she started in Colorado. All of them are:
- Non-toxic, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and non–carcinogenic
- Formulated with natural and organic ingredients
- Instantly effective against bug bites, dust mites, and allergens
- Safe for use around pets and children
Premium Fabric Deodorizer and Disinfectant
- Eliminates smells at the root of the problem by killing bacteria and dust mites instead of just masking smells with perfumes.
- No harsh chemicals, like the cleaners that smell like bleach or chlorine, or the ones that simply only work for a couple of hours and then let the smell slowly creep back in.
- Works on all fabric items in your home – from your mattress, couches, carpets, rugs, curtains, pillows, stuffed animals, dog beds, cat posts, to even your winter clothes and coats that have been in storage for months or your car upholstery. Let our spray naturally cleanse and refresh your fabrics today.
Premium Sports Gear Deodorizer and Disinfectant
- Concentrated (never watered down) all-natural formula packaged in a super efficient spray bottle so that more disinfectant is delivered without soaking your equipment.
- Get the stink out of your kid’s hockey, football, soccer and other sports equipment and keep that sports funk from infiltrating your car and home. Effective on helmets, gloves, shoe pads, shin guards, mats, gym bags and more.
- Keep children safe by using this spray that eliminates bacteria, fungus, and more from the items that touch their skin daily. This spray is antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial spray and harnesses the power of all natural ingredients that kill the origin of the smell instead of just covering it up.
Premium Luggage Deodorizer and Disinfectant
- Unlike other cleaners that leave an oily residue, the smell of strong chemicals, or do not effectively kill germs, this all natural and organic formula is a solution to killing germs, bed bugs and smells that can be gathered during travel or daily use, keeping your home protected.
- Think about all the surfaces your luggage and backpacks touch – airports, planes, the sidewalk, hotel rooms, the office, schools floors and even the bathroom floors. Then you put the backpack on your back and drop it on the floor when you get home or drag the suitcase through your house to unpack.
Lauren at Avocadu
Hey there! I’m Lauren McManus, one-half of the Avocadu team! Together, my boyfriend Alex and I run this website! We believe in quality over quantity and that diet determines 85% or more of your health and well-being. In short, we believe in being healthy from the inside out.