No need to scour the internet and grocery stores for the best green cleaning products to keep your house spick and span – Sasha, our resident nutritional anthropologist, did all the hard work for you here!
We all want our homes to be a place where we feel comfortable and at ease. We want it to be a place where we can recharge and regain the strength that the outside world — with its stress, pollution, and chemicals — can sometimes drain from us.
Unfortunately, the air quality in our homes, together with some of the cleaning products we may be buying, could actually be creating an environment where our homes are more polluted than the outdoors!
Why would we want to come home to a place where we are exposed to more hazards than when we are outside? That definitely doesn’t sound very relaxing!
In fact, according to the World Health Organization, around 3.8 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution!
While most of the developed world doesn’t need to worry about the pollution caused by cooking with fire indoors, other important contributors to household air pollution do affect homes in the developed world and include:
- building materials
- indoor gasses
- naturally occurring gasses
- poor ventilation
- mold and pollen
- and – yes – household cleaning products
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Why Switch to Green Cleaning Products?
Taken straight from the NIH U.S. Library of Medicine, “The products you use for cleaning, carpentry, auto repair, gardening, and many other household uses can contain ingredients that can harm you, your family, and the environment.” Sounds like a good enough reason to avoid those products to me!
Health Benefits of Green Cleaning Products
Cleaning products that contain toxic substances can be harmful to your health when you inhale them or absorb them through your skin. If they aren’t removed from surfaces that come into contact with food, plates, glasses, and utensils, you could also be swallowing them.
Toxic substances from cleaning products, at high doses, are directly linked to:
- problems with breathing
- developmental issues in unborn babies
- destruction or damage of tooth fillings/dental repairs
- hormonal disruption
- DNA damage
- rashes and skin reactions
- and more…
Green cleaning products exclude the chemicals that can cause many of these health issues, while still performing the function of keeping your house free of bacteria, dirt, allergens, mold, and other smelly things.
Ingredients to Avoid in Cleaning Products
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of ingredients in conventional cleaning products that are linked to the health issues mentioned above. These are ingredients you want to avoid in the products you buy to use in your home!
- alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
- didecyldimethylammonium chloride
- dioctyl dimethyl ammonium chloride
- distearyldimonium chloride
- DMDM hydantoin
- monoethanolamine citrate
- sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
- sulfuric acid
- quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats,” such as benzalkonium
- borax and boric acid
- diethylene glycol monomethyl ether
What Natural Products Can I Use to Clean My House?
Without further ado, here is a list of 6 green cleaning products you can use safely in every corner of your household — no dangerous chemicals in sight!
1. Best Green All-Purpose Cleaner: Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
This is a true all-purpose cleaner. You can use it to wash your clothes, clean your counters, and wash your hair. Simply dilute it to different concentrations to meet your needs.
Price: $17 for 25 fl oz
2. Best Green Dish Soap: Ecover Dish Soap
This biodegradable, plant-based formula is gentle on your skin and on the planet, but tough on grease and crud stuck on dishes and pans. One squeeze goes a long way and can clean up a full sink full of dirty dishes!
Price: $10-12 for 25 fl oz
3. Best Green Dishwasher Detergent: Seventh Generation Dishwashing Detergent
This phosphate-free, chlorine-free, and dye-free formula effectively removes grease and food from dishes thanks to the power of plant-derived enzymes. Unlike conventional cleaning products, each and every one of the plant-based ingredients is disclosed (no secrets here!).
Price: $5 for 42 fl oz
4. Best Green Counter Cleaner: Seventh Generation Multi-Surface Cleaner
The Seventh Generation’s multi-surface cleaner is the only cleaner in its class that scored an A in the EWG’s guide to healthy cleaning. It kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses from surfaces.
And the best part? The active ingredient comes from thyme oil (thymol), rather than harmful bleach or chloramine.
5. Best Green Toilet Bowl Cleaner: GreenShield Organic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Greenshield’s organic toilet bowl cleaner scored an A on EWG’s guide to healthy cleaning. All its ingredients are non-toxic and hypoallergenic and the formula is bleach-free and phosphorus-free. Best of all, it is one of the few cleaning products that are USDA Certified Organic.
You can purchase this item here.
6. Best Green Laundry Detergent: AspenClean Laundry Detergent
All of the AspenClean detergent scents received an A in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. All of the ingredients for each of the detergents are natural and their vegan-grade and the bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic. Best of all, not a single one is made with even one toxic chemical.
(Note that if you are sensitive to essential oils, it is recommended that you purchase the unscented version.)
These products are not available on Amazon but you can buy them on the company’s website.
Can You Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products?
You can save money and have the confidence in what is in your cleaning products by making them at home. However, it is important to note that DIY cleaning products aren’t always as effective as specialized products, and, when using them in and on your appliances, they may leave residue or damage surfaces.
Nevertheless, there are some effective DIY all-purpose cleaners you can make at home with only a few ingredients. My favorite one only takes a few minutes to make, contains no harsh chemicals, and is more effective than many mainstream products out there.
What is the Best Homemade Cleaning Solution?
In my opinion, the best simple all-purpose cleaning solution is a simple solution of water, vinegar, natural soap, and lemon essential oils! Here’s how to make it, if you want to give it a try for yourself!
- 1 1/2 cups distilled water
- 1/2 cup white cleaning vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (or castile soap)
- 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until ingredients are well-mixed. This is the perfect DIY cleaner for all the hard surfaces in your home.
Take Home Message
Even though cleaning products are marketed to make you feel you are creating a healthier, cleaner environment, most conventional home cleaners contain ingredients that contribute to indoor pollution at home. Common ingredients in cleaning products are known to cause a range of illnesses. The good news is most of these ingredients aren’t necessary to keep your home clean.
The six cleaning products highlighted in this article are healthy and effective products that will keep your home clean while keeping you and your family healthy.