Ever clean your kitchen and want to plug your nose because the cleaning products themselves smell worse than a dirty sink?
Those noxious smells are often signs of toxins—chemicals in your cleaning products that are terrible for your health.
Today, there are far more chemicals than there were 50 years ago, so cleaning products may be more toxic now than ever before. “In the United States, you can put a product on the market and include chemicals with little to no testing about their effect on health,” explains Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., director of the University of California at San Francisco’s program on Reproductive Health and the Environment. Toxins in cleaning products can lead to respiratory problems, reproductive problems and potentially even obesity—and that’s just what we know so far. “There are no requirements for full disclosure [of ingredients],” she says, “so we’re operating in the dark.”
Sites like GoodGuide and EcoLogo can help you sort through the mess and find products to help you clean your home without inhaling noxious chemicals. We especially love GoodGuide because it rates tons of products and highlights any harmful ingredients. In general, when you’re looking at an ingredient list, “less is often better,” says Woodruff. “Look for fewer chemicals listed on the label.”
To clean her own home, Woodruff uses a spray bottle with a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar. “Your house smells like a salad after you’re done, but it works,” she jokes. “Vinegar and baking soda work very well for cleaning most of the things in your house. Plus, they’re cheaper.” (Instead of baking soda, she opts for Bon Ami’s Powder Cleanser.)
But if the thought of a house smelling like vinegar makes you cringe, it’s easier than ever to find natural cleaning solutions that leave your home smelling as good as it looks. Check out our favorite non-toxic cleaning products below:
Courtesy of Mrs. Meyer's; Method; Common
Most cleaning products are chockfull of toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to your health. But you’re not automatically in the clear if you choose one that touts “natural” on the label since any product can claim to be natural.
So we’ve done the work for you to find cleaning products that follow through on their toxin-free, health-friendly claims. Hey, you might actually enjoy cleaning day with these in your bathroom cabinet.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
Take your pick of Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products—they’re all amazing. Their wide array of formulas (designed to make housekeeping “feel less like work”) is non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable. Plus, every product is animal cruelty-free. There’s even a real Mrs. Meyer (an Iowa mother of nine), and all of the essential oil scents are inspired by her garden.
We love it when a massive corporation (Clorox, in this case) comes out with a sustainable, health-conscious line. With all of the effectiveness you’d expect from Clorox sans chemicals (and guilt), you can feel good about stocking your cabinet with Green Works.
Eco-friendly to the core, Common Good is all about a healthy planet. You buy the bottle once, then you can get refills at stations all over the country—for much less than you’d pay for a new bottle
All of their products are 100-percent biodegradable, plant-based and safe for you and your loved ones. They’re even available fragrance-free for sensitive noses, and any scents they do use come from pure essential oils.
Gorgeously packaged and deliciously scented, this luxe line will make you look forward to cleaning. Think of it like toxin-free, eco-friendly aromatherapy for your home—complete with heavenly essential oil top notes, middle notes and base notes in every product.
Caldrea offers all of the usual cleaning supplies, but this is a go-to line for novelty products like stainless steel spray, fabric softener and detergents made especially for your delicates or sporty fabrics.
Don’t let the crazy colors fool you—this much-loved cleaning product line doesn’t have any harmful chemicals. In fact, they’re at the top of Good Guide’s list for healthy, eco-friendly, socially-minded home care companies.
With stylish products for cleaning every surface in your house (including wood, glass and dirty little kids’ hands), this is a tried-and-true line for people who want a healthy home.
Whole Foods Market Brands
Need another reason to love Whole Foods? They have their own lines of toxin-free, eco-friendly, natural cleaning products. Their latest line—Green Mission—is their healthiest, most sustainable yet. Check out their Eco-Scale rating system to see what does and doesn’t make the grade.
Whole Foods Green Mission Minty Fresh Surface Cleaning Wipes, 35 sheets, $4.99, in stores now, and 365 Everyday Value Organic Mountain Fresh Laundry Detergent, 200 loads, $16.99.
Seventh Generation’s products have a positive influence all the way down the chain, from the original source to your cabinet. They’re not all about chic, fancy packaging, but they are reliably toxin-free, eco-friendly and effective. Their goal is to inspire a revolution that nurtures the next seven generations, so while you’re probably focused on just one or two, you can rest assured that these cleaners will do no harm for generations to come.
Best known for their deliciously scented hand soap, Williams Sonoma also makes all-natural cleaning products to keep your kitchen as spotless as a catalogue photo spread. From the packaging to the biodegradable formula to the clean, simple scents, this brand is a beacon of luxury home care.
Ecover is committed to using plant-based and raw mineral materials from sustainable sources that don’t uproot local communities or whittle away natural resources. Plus, the packaging is made from sugarcane and is 100-percent recyclable—a pretty sweet solution, we think.
Their gentle, fragrance-free ZERO line is ideal for people with sensitive skin.
Marketed as “America’s Original Natural Home Cleaner,” Bon Ami has been keeping homes clean for over 125 years. With only five ingredients, their classic Powder Cleanser is like a souped-up version of your grandmother’s home remedy baking powder. For tough kitchens and bathrooms, this is a safe, natural way to keep them sparkling clean. And now, they even have a liquid version of their original formula.
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