Switching to all non-toxic cleaning products is not something I did overnight. And you shouldn’t either. Like any major lifestyle change, it’s a process that should be approached slowly in order to be sustainable. Many of today’s popular cleaning products contain chemicals that, after frequent exposure, can cause dizziness, nausea, and even respiratory and reproductive problems. But the truth is I began my non-toxic journey for more vain reasons – my skin. I realized that the chemical-filled products I was using in my home were actually causing inflammation. If they could cause acne on the outside, what were they doing to my insides?
As I continued on my non-toxic journey I found out the dirty truth about many of these products and slowly switched them out. As I got married and had pets and kids it was not only about me but the health and safety of them too. That’s why I want to share with you how to create a chemical-free home and my favorite non-toxic cleaning products that you can feel good using around your family and pets.
The Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)
Why you should switch to non-toxic cleaning products
Harmful chemicals are no joke. Scientists at the University of Bergen found that cleaning the “house is as bad for women’s lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
According to the article, after studying the lungs of over 6,000 women and men the researchers found that a “variety of potential irritants to the lungs are found in domestic products – including bleach and ammonia. ”The researchers themselves added, “Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.”
Why would we keep subjecting ourselves to these chemicals when there are now countless safe alternatives?
Ingredients to Avoid
But first, before you try to find non-toxic cleaning products, you have to know what ingredients to avoid.
- Fragrance/Parfum – Fragrance is considered a “trade secret” by companies. They are not required to disclose what it’s actually made of. Unless stated as strictly essential oils, most fragrances are made up of a combination of harmful chemicals.
- Butoxyethanol – Butoxyethanol is used in a lot of cleaning products such as liquid dish soap, degreasers, glass cleaners, and multi-purpose cleaners. It’s been shown it reduces fertility, low birth weight, and can cause asthma and allergies.
- Ammonia – Ammonia is used to clean glass, sink, and polish fixtures. It is very irritating for those with asthma or lung issues.
- Monoethanolamine (MEA), Diethanolamine (DEA), and/or Triethanolamine (TEA) – may cause skin and eye irritation and at high and frequent use even liver and kidney damage. And yet it’s found in many furniture polishes and foaming products.
- Phthalates – Overexposure to phthalates has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, birth defects, respiratory disease, and burns to the skin and eyes. It is often found in air fresheners, dish soaps, and many other fragranced cleaning products.
- Triclosan – Triclosan is considered an endocrine disrupter and found to mess with people’s thyroid hormones. Exposure in babies increases their chances of allergies, asthma, and eczema.
- Sulfates – Sulfates are tricky because they are found in EVERYTHING. But are most commonly found in laundry and dishwasher detergents to help them later. However, they cause irritation to the skin, eyes, mouth, and lungs.
They are many more harmful chemicals but I don’t want to overwhelm you at first and if you simply try to eliminate these as much as possible you’ll already be off to a great start.
How to Create a Chemical-Free Home
First, don’t take every cleaning product in your home and immediately throw them out. You already spent money on these products, and you might as well use them up. The key here is a long-term, sustainable change to create a chemical-free home. We’re not trying to create a whole lifestyle overhaul in one day.
But, every time you use up your chemical-filled cleaning products, replace them with non-toxic cleaning products. That way no money is wasted. Remember, you working toward a chemical-free home at a pace you can manage.
Then, when you do go to replace products, look for ones that are non-toxic, effective, and as often as possible, can be used in multiple rooms and for multiple purposes.
I’m going to mention a number of different products in this post but one of my favorite companies is Branch Basics.
All of their products are:
- Non-toxic, plant and mineral based, and biodegradable
- Free of fragrance, hormone disruptors, and harmful preservatives
- Baby and pet safe
- Can replace all of your toxic cleaning products
Let’s start in the kitchen
The most obvious place to start in your kitchen is under the kitchen sink. This is where most of us store our cleaning products. And it’s one of the best places to start. If you’re also looking for organization tips, check out my recent post on How to Organize Under the Kitchen Sink.
But for now, here are my favorite non-toxic cleaning products I keep under there.
- Branch Basics Concentrate Cleaning.
- Swedish Dishcloths
- Scrub Daddy
- Branch Basics Dishwashing tabs
- Magic Eraser
Now let’s break these down.
The Branch Basics Concentrate bottle is a POWERHOUSE. One bottle costs $55 but it’s an investment that’s well worth it. One bottle can be used to create 3 multipurpose cleaners, 3 bathroom cleaning bottles, 3 glass cleaning bottles, 64 loads of laundry, and 3 foaming hand-washing bottles. Yes, that’s all in one bottle. I love that the reusable glass bottles I bought to go with it tell me exactly how much water to put in each bottle and how much concentrate to make the perfect cleaner for different areas.
It simplifies my life because I don’t think to think about constantly restocking different cleaners or spending time researching whether a product is safe or not. I also love that it is safe on the most sensitive skin types but can cut through grease and grime at the same time. Since it is a little pricey, you can use my code SARAHALTHOUSE to take 15% off all starter kits.
Now let’s talk about Swedish dishcloths. Before I use my multipurpose spray from Branch Basics, I like to run a Swedish dishcloth over my countertops to get on any stuck-on food pieces. What I love about these is that you can wash them in the dishwasher or washing machine and they can be composted when you are done. Now that’s a truly sustainable cleaning product. Think about using them instead of a paper towel.
You can buy Swedish dishcloths in a number of places but I find the most convenient is to grab them from Amazon.
Third, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Scrub Daddy. But if you haven’t picked up any of their products yet you’re missing out. The Scrub Daddy is my main dishwashing sponge. It has a soft side for delicate dishes and pans and a harder side that can be used with cold water to scrub stuck-on food.
Four, Branch Basics Dishwashing tabs are an easy way to switch to non-toxic cleaning products. These pods are human-safe, contain no fillers, and are plastic-free. This makes them not only safe for your family but sustainable too.
Lastly, let’s talk about that Magic Eraser. I was hesitant to put this product in here because it’s not necessarily listed among the top “non-toxic cleaning products.” But after doing my own research, I found that while it’s not made from natural ingredients, it isn’t toxic either. Even chemical and poison websites deem it “low-risk.”
Because it’s not a product that can cause harm, even though it’s not natural, I am keeping it in my cleaning arsenal. As the name implies, it truly is magical for getting off anything from grease on the stove to scuffs on the walls.
This is not an exhaustive list of the best non-toxic cleaning products for your home. But it’s a great start and one you can feel good about.
Thanks for being here! – Sarah