Exposure to common household cleaners can weigh heavily on your health. The body detoxifies itself on a daily basis but when your toxic burden is heavier than what your body can handle, you may be more likely to develop symptoms and feel dragged down. Many household cleaners can cause you to experience symptoms such as headaches, asthma or difficulty breathing due to lung irritation, sneezing, eye irritation, and rashes.
Over time, some can even cause hormone disruption or cancer. On top of the harm they can cause you, they also tend to be harmful to the environment and release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), which pollute the air. In fact, studies show that the air inside homes often has 2 to 3 times the level of VOC’s compared to outdoors. Poor indoor air quality can especially affect disabled or elderly people, as well as very young children and pets, which tend to spend more time at home.
Using an air purifier to clean up the air in your home is a wise choice but to reduce your overall exposure as much as possible, you should make the switch to non-toxic household cleaning products. Here’s a list of the top 10 (and some of my personal favorite!) household cleaning products to get you started.
1) Dr Bronner’s Unscented Liquid Castile Soap
Dr Bronner’s creates some of the most environmentally friendly soaps on the market. Castile soap is a type of soap made from oils and it can double as a household cleaner. Dr Bronner’s Unscented Liquid Castile Soap is great for those who are sensitive to essential oils and have allergies or sensitive skin.
It’s an 18-in-1 soap so you can basically dilute this soap to clean just about everything and anything! I use it in a spray bottle for cleaning and as shampoo, as well as hand soap in a foaming soap dispenser. To read about the various uses for it, check out Dr Bronner’s Dilution Cheat Sheet.
2) Distilled Vinegar
Regular distilled vinegar is my go-to for cleaning mirrors and windows. I also love using it in laundry, especially if towels were sitting damp in my laundry basket for longer than a day. It removes odors from musty laundry and you can still use your favorite detergent along with it in the wash. Distilled vinegar can work as a natural fabric softener and don’t worry; your laundry won’t smell like vinegar afterwards!
This article lists other handy ways to use vinegar around the house. Best of all, it’s extremely inexpensive, doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, and is 100% natural.
3) Planet Cleaning Products
I have very sensitive skin and I’m prone to eczema and psoriasis, as well as allergies. I usually use gloves when washing dishes and for the longest time, I struggled trying to find a dish soap that wouldn’t irritate my skin if I had to wash my hands in the kitchen. I wanted to be able to use the dish soap as hand soap in a pinch and be able to wash dishes without gloves from time to time.
Luckily, Planet’s cleaning products helped me do just that! They are fragrance free and gentle on the skin. I especially love the Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, but I also use the Planet Automatic Dishwasher Pacs. These products are plant-based, biodegradable, and free from dyes and synthetic preservatives. They also work surprisingly well even with hard water.
4) Soap Nuts
Soap nuts are one of the most affordable ways to wash your laundry. They’re seriously amazing! I was skeptical at how well they would work at first, but they clean clothes as well as detergent (unless your clothes need stain removal). Soap nuts, or soapberries, are actually from a real tree. The reason they work as a cleanser is because the berries naturally contain a cleaning agent called saponin.
They will leave your laundry odorless and all you have to do is toss about 6 soap nuts in a small cloth drawstring bag and toss it into the washer before you put your clothes in. Every few washes, you’ll have to change out the nuts in the bag, mainly if they’re starting to look discolored. Overall, soap nuts are a lifesaver when you have eczema and they’re the best way to wash your laundry when you’re trying to lighten your toxic exposure or save a few bucks.
5) Rubbing Alcohol
Years ago, my friend told me her girlfriend’s mother uses rubbing alcohol to clean her countertops. At first, I thought it sounded crazy. It made no sense to me because at that time I thought that if I wasn’t using something like Clorox Wipes, my counters weren’t clean. Fast forward a few years and I’m switching my life around, only using natural products as much as possible, eating organic, etc.
Usually I was soaping up my counters with castile soap and wiping them down but for whatever reason, I decided to try the rubbing alcohol. It’s inexpensive, the scent doesn’t offend me, and it dries quickly. So I ended up really liking how quickly it dries and now I also use it to wipe up quick messes on the floor, clean my cell phone, and wipe down my mouse and keyboard. A little goes a long way with this, and some argue that using hydrogen peroxide as a cleaner is a better option. I don’t disagree; I like them both, but mainly for cleaning lightly soiled or greasy counters or wiping up spills.
6) Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds
Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds is made to replace traditional cleaning solutions, such as Pine-Sol. It’s an all-purpose biodegradable cleaner free from synthetic dyes and preservatives. Much like Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap, it’s concentrated so one bottle can last a very long time. Sal Suds contain plant-based surfactants and has fir and spruce essential oils added, giving it a pine scent.
It works well for dishwashing, as well as pretty much any other cleaning task. It can even be used to clean toilets! I find the scent to be overwhelming if it isn’t diluted enough, but Sal Suds does work amazingly well and if they made an unscented version, I’d use it a lot more. It works wonders in hard water.
7) ECOS Cleaning Products
ECOS offers a whole line of cleaning products that are environmentally friendly, as well as many that are unscented or only scented with essential oils. A number of their products are even Safer Choice certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They’re also cruelty free and their website lists if a product is vegan and gluten free!
One of my favorite ECOS products is the Tea Tree Shower Cleaner. Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide, which is great for cleaning mold and mildew, as well as preventing its reoccurrence. Besides using it for wiping clean your shower, ECOS Tea Tree Shower Cleaner can be misted on your shower after each use and left on to prevent soap scum build up and water spots.
8) Baking Soda
Baking soda is one product I’ll never go without in my home. We all know it works as a deodorizer for refrigerators, but it has so many other uses and it’s extremely inexpensive. My main use for baking soda is as a fruit and veggie wash. A study in 2017 actually found that baking soda can be used to remove pesticides from apples!
That’s not the only way you can make use of it though; sometimes natural dish soaps don’t have enough grease cutting power but a little bit of baking soda on your sponge is all you’ll need to fix that issue. I also use it for cleaning out my sinks and giving them a nice shine.
9) Norwex Cloths
Norwex cloths are seriously like some type of magic. You don’t need any cleaner to clean with them and they can be used on just about anything. Norwex claims that their products even remove up to 99% of bacteria on surfaces when used properly. This is due to a silver-based antibacterial agent in their products that is also intended to inhibit mold growth and bacterial odor.
Norwex has a whole line of products that are on my list of products to try but so far I’ve only tried the cloths. I was first introduced to them when I was looking for a way to shower without further irritating my eczema and psoriasis. Surprisingly, they work well for showering without soap, so they may be helpful for those who have skin conditions or are really sensitive and need to avoid cleansers. Using Norwex cloths for showering takes some getting used to, but they left me completely odorless and clean when I tried them!
10) Steam Mop
I’m not sure I could get by without my steam mop…ever. There’s no need to fill a bucket of water and lug it around the house anymore. Plus you can avoid using any chemicals when you mop, so it’s a win-win. All you use in a steam mop is plain old water. The heat of the steam produced by the mop is what sanitizes your floor.
After you’re done mopping, you just take the pad off the steam mop and throw it in the washer to clean. There’s no cost beyond the initial purchase of the steam mop because the pads usually hold up well enough to be used for several years. As an alternative to a steam mop, Norwex also sells mop sets that can be used with only water. The only downside is that they don’t include a tank to house the water like the steam mops do, so you have to wet the pad before use.
Are You Ready to Make the Switch?
Using the cleaning products mentioned above will help reduce your exposure to unhealthy VOCs, save you some money, and help out the environment a little bit in the process. If making the switch sounds difficult, give at least one or two of these products a try before committing to using them regularly. You might be surprised by how well they work!
We’d love if you’d share some of your favorite non-toxic and natural household cleaning products with us. List some of your faves in the comments section below.