Natural Cleaning Products: Complete Beginner’s Guide

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Could your non natural cleaning products have a significant impact on your health? Unfortunately the answer is yes.

Many of us don’t even realize that there are no federal regulations requiring that manufacturers or brands even LIST ingredients on their cleaning products.

Well that’s a little concerning.

Would you eat something if there were no ingredients on the box? We sure hope not.

So why would you literally cover your home in cleaning supplies without having any idea what’s in them?

The problem is, most of us are just regular good people.

We see big brand names and we trust them. These brands have been around forever, how could they not be following the rules? How could they be selling products that could hurt us?

Long story short, they are following the rules. Mostly, because there are not rules.

They also don’t really care if they are selling you products with potentially dangerous ingredients. If there is no US regulation stating that a particular ingredient is dangerous, they are going to claim it’s not.

Does it matter if the European Union and other countries have banned these same types of ingredients after labeling them toxic and dangerous?

Not really.

Does it matter if the products they’re selling you could trigger asthma attacks, skin rashes, or even be linked to cancer?

Also not really.

Are you a little shocked?

Yeah, we were too.

Non Natural Cleaning Product Scary Statistics

Not convinced? Here are a few scary statistics about home cleaning products:

  • EWG (Environmental Working Group) found more than half of 1000 ingredients used in commercial household cleaning products are harmful to lungs. So harmful they could trigger asthma in healthy individuals.
  • Almost half of the 1,000 package examined by EWG listed three or fewer ingredients on their label (remember, they don’t technically have to list them!)
  • Since 1970 a minimum of 70,000 new chemical compounds have been invented and only some of them have been tested for human toxicity.

So you see, technically these cleaning product companies are the following the rules.

That’s why WE need to be better consumers. More educated, more informed, and more outspoken about what matters to us.

Sure you can get involved in politics and lobbying to make a change, but you can also shop smarter.

One of the best ways to show companies manufacturing dangerous products that you mean business, is to stop buying them.

First, learn everything you can. Then, support the companies doing it right.

Where can you get started? Keep reading below! We’ve outlined the absolute complete beginners guide to natural cleaning products.

Common Side Effects of Non Natural Cleaning Products

Many non natural cleaning products you can find in a majority of homes in the United States can lead to both irritating and dangerous side effects.

And sadly, most of them have never even been tested for long term effects. Yikes.

These are a few of the most common:

  • Burning or irritation of skin, eyes, throat and nose
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory effects
  • Neurological effects
  • Reproductive health issues
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Carcinogenic (cancer-causing)
  • Fatality if swallowed

What’s Really in Your Home Cleaning Products?

Similar to the beauty industry, the federal government doesn’t require cleaning product manufacturers to disclose a list of their ingredients on products. 

How exactly are you supposed to shop smart when you can’t even find the ingredients, much less understand them? We’re going to give you all the tools you need.

Common Toxic Cleaning Product Ingredients

There are countless dangerous ingredients commonly found in non natural cleaning products, but these are some of the worst:

1,4-Dioxane

Suspected carcinogen found in many detergents.

2-Butoxyethanol (or 2-BE, BCEE, Butyl cellosolve)

Skin and eye irritant found in laundry stain removers, degreasers, and oven cleaners (this one is so bad the Canadian Environmental Protection Act added it to their list of toxic substances).

Ammonia

Common respiratory and skin irritant.

Antibacterials

Banned substances linked to endocrine disruption and antibiotic resistance (so banned the FDA banned triclosan and 18 other antibacterial compounds from hand and body soaps in 2016).

Chlorine Bleach

Bleach is dangerous for several reasons. One, its fumes can contain chlorine and chloroform which are linked to cancer and respiratory and neurological effects. Two, it’s a very reactive ingredient that can form dangerous gasses when combined with other ingredients (even something as common as vinegar).

Diethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (DEGME or Methoxydiglycol)

Compound linked to reproductive health effects commonly used in heavy-duty cleaners and degreasers that was banned in the EU.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen used as a preservative.

Fragrance

Similar to the beauty industry, “fragrance” is an ingredient used to cover other non-listed ingredients, which can mean hundreds of other dangerous chemical compounds you’re not even aware of. This ingredient can also trigger allergies and asthma.

Perchloroethylene (“PERC”)

Probable carcinogen and neurotoxin found in many spot removers, upholstery cleaners and home dry cleaning products.

Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (“Quats”): 

Known asthma triggers found in both spray cleaners and fabric softeners.

Home Cleaning Product US Regulations

We already said it once, but let’s review. There are no federal regulations stating that cleaning products need to disclose their ingredients on packaging.

Why?

In a nutshell there are industry trade associations that fight to make sure no federal legislation is implemented that would require them to. This is a similar story to what we see happening in the beauty and food industries. Big players behind the scene are controlling important opportunities for regulation that could keep us all safer.

Most big brands have started to post ingredient lists on their websites, but still rarely put the information directly on product labels. This means most consumers are seeing the critical information at the purchase point. Also, keep in mind that researchers, like the EWG team, have found that many times these online lists are providing vague and incomplete information that would confuse any typical consumer.

Just to be clear, there are SOME regulations that exist. They just have serious shortcomings.

EWG reports that the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (Ahem…yes, 1976) forced regulators to focus on new chemicals, but did nothing for already existing substances (about 60,000) that were already being widely used. 

The best bet to making an impact on the scary lack of cleaning product regulations is focusing on a state level. Some states have already made headway in improving ingredient disclosure and pushing for safer products.

Natural Cleaning Products Apps

So we know these ingredients are scary, but they are also kind of daunting.

Most of us regular people can’t even properly pronounce the ingredients, much less understand what they all do.

We’re not scientists. So how are we supposed to find the best products?

You CAN spend time getting to know some of the worst (listed above) and best (listed below) ingredients, or you can use a little technology to help.

Luckily for all of us on the lazier side, there are apps that basically do the work for us.

Check out these awesome natural cleaning product apps.

Think Dirty App

think dirty natural cleaning products app

The Think Dirty app started with makeup, but it’s great for checking natural cleaning products too. With a simple scan of the barcode you’ll get a quick rating 1-10 for exactly how toxic a particular product is.

Each listing also includes information on ingredients, including long-term effects. Best of all, it’s presented in a way that anyone can understand.

Use the Think Dirty app while you’re on the go and don’t have time to look up specific ingredients individually.

EWG Healthy Living App

egg healthy living natural cleaning products app

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) EWG Healthy Living app has one of the longest standing safety databases there is. EWG literally exists to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. In other words, they’re really invested in this stuff. 

Their database has over 70,000 products and 2,100 brands. They also use a 1-10 rating, with one being the safest, and 10 being a big no no. If a natural home cleaning product isn’t listed in the database yet, you can also search by individual ingredients.

GoodGuide App

good guide natural cleaning products app

The GoodGuide app allows you to scan or search a database of over 250,000 products within a variety of categories. Following in suit with other apps, they use 1-10 scale rating based on health, environmental and social impact.

This natural cleaning product app will help you be a better informed shopper and it offers better quality suggestions than your regular picks too.

Detox Me App

detox me natural cleaning product app

The Detox Me app was created to help consumers live healthier lives. The app is broken into six categories (Home, Food & Drink, Clothing, Personal Care, Cleaning and Children) and similar to the other apps, offers useful information on different products.

One unique feature on this app is that it provides cool DIY natural cleaning product recipes to replace the toxic commercial ones that might be in your home. Instead of finding a new product to purchase, you could just end up making your own!

The natural cleaning product app also gives general shopping tips to follow for specific types of products and ingredients, helping you become a more educated consumer.

Best Natural Cleaning Product Ingredients

With dangerous non natural cleaning products flooding the market, many consumers choose to make their own cleaners.

Even if you don’t plan to make your own natural cleaning products, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with safe ingredients. This way you know what to keep an eye out for when scanning new products and brands to try.

Here are some of the best natural cleaning product ingredients:

Alcohol

As most of us know, alcohol makes a great disinfectant. While rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) does have some safety concerns, vodka is a strong odor remover, and grain alcohol can be used in cleaners and disinfectants.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is used in tons of natural cleaning products and can be used for deoderizing, water softening, scouring, and general cleaning. You can even make toothpaste with baking soda.

Citrus Solvent

Citrus solvent is a great natural cleaning product ingredient that works well on oil, grease, and stains. Fair warning, it can some some irritation for people with chemical sensitivities.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is another kitchen ingredient that doubles as a natural cleaning product win. It’s commonly used to clean windows, shampoo carpets and rugs, and polish furniture too.

Hydrogen Peroxide

You may know hydrogen peroxide as a common wound disinfectant, but it will work on your kitchen and bathrooms too. It has a mild bleaching effect that can help remove stains from fabrics and grout. Like some other natural cleaning product ingredients, it can still cause some mild irritation.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is an incredibly strong food acid which makes is a good natural cleaning product to tackle household bacteria.

Soap

Castile soap and other unscented soaps can clean just about anything, and they are biodegradable too. You can find them in liquid, powder, bar, or soap flakes form. Avoid using any soaps that contain harmful petroleum distillates.

Vegetable or Olive Oil

These kitchen ingredients are a great natural cleaning product replacement for homemade wood polishes

Washing Soda or SAL Soda

This mineral cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, and even cleans walls, tiles, sinks and tubs. This natural cleaning product ingredient still needs to be used with care because it can sometimes irritate mucous membranes.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a natural cleaning product ingredient that is commonly used to cut grease and remove wax build-up. It’s also effective at cutting grease, removing mildew, odors, and some stains.

Tips for Making the Switch to Natural Cleaning Products

We’re not going to lie, we understand this is A LOT of information. It might feel a little overwhelming, or like there is no way you could possible find all new cleaning products.

Don’t have time to do a ton of research? Feel like there is too much to tackle?

Take a few deep breaths. Making the switch is actually pretty easy.

Here are a few steps to get you headed on the right path!

1.  Start with one product at a time. 

Don’t head to your pantry and throw everything out at once. Start with one simple product and move on from there. What’s worse than using toxic cleaning products? Waking up and needed to clean up and emergency mess and having NO cleaning supplies. Let’s start slow.

2.  Prioritize higher usage products. 

Start with the product you use the most. Is there one cleaner you find yourself using every single day? Is there one cleaner you feel you come into the most contact with? Your kids come into the most contact with That will be the best place to start because it will have the biggest impact.

3.  Decide if you’re making or buying. 

You can DIY your own cleaning products, or choose from a list of safe brands (Hint, we are going to link some of our favorites below). If you decide on making, check out the natural cleaning product booked linked at the end of the article. They are full of awesome recipes!

4.  Do some retail therapy. 

It’s time to shop! If you’re going the DIY route you’re going to be looking for high quality ingredients to make your own products, and if you’re buying pre-made natural cleaning products, it’s time to have a little shopping fun. Pro Tip: Start with small quantity products to make sure you like them first!

5.  Be patient. 

Remember, it’s not always a home run on the first hit. It may take a couple tries to find the new natural cleaning products you love. Even if something is totally toxic, it can be hard to switch away from established habits. Give yourself multiple tries for each product you’re replacing, and be patient! Most importantly, don’t buy the bulk option until you know you love it.

Our Favorite Natural Cleaning Brands

If you’re a brand loyal like myself, you probably want to find the “right” brand for your new natural cleaning products life. It may take some trial and error, but it helps to know the players.

How to Pick a Great Natural Cleaning Brand

When you’re shopping around for a new natural cleaning products brand it can be tough to figure out which companies are actually natural, non-toxic, green, whatever you want to call them.

The reason being, there is A LOT of misleading advertising happening out in the world.

Big name brands have noticed the trend for natural products and are playing marketing tricks with our minds. They’re changing packaging to look more “natural” (think more green colors, plant graphics, or wood coloring), and they’re even using terminology like “green” without any real definition or regulation.

Big brands will even market sub-products of their original ones that claim to be newer, safer, and more natural. In reality, they’re probably SLIGHTLY changing their product makeup by taking out one ingredient. It’s best to check ingredient lists carefully and use the natural cleaning product apps we’ve mentioned above for every single product. 

Even if a product is marketed as more natural, it doesn’t mean it is.

We use the following tips to pick amazing natural cleaning products brands:

  • Brands that list all ingredients (even though they don’t have to)
  • Contain plant-based, natural ingredients
  • Refrain from using artificial coloring or fragrances 
  • Have biodegradable friendly products and packaging
  • Have great ratings on reliable databases like the apps mentioned above

Best Natural Cleaning Products Brands

Want to skip all the research? We’ll make it easy and lay out our favorite natural cleaning product brands for you right here.

BETTER LIFE

better life natural cleaning product brand

The BETTER LIFE brand is known for cleaning sprays for just about every cleaning task you can think of.

Biokleen

Biokleen natural cleaning product brand

The Biokleen natural cleaning product brand is best known for laundry products.

Dr. Bronner’s

dr bronners natural cleaning product brand

The Dr. Bronner’s brand is known for their Sals Suds biodegradable cleaner.

ECOS

ecos natural cleaning product brand

The ECOS brand offers a wide variety of safe natural cleaning products you can rely on.

Ecover

Ecover natural cleaning products brand

The Ecover natural cleaning products brand is known for dishwashing and laundry products.

Molly’s Suds

Mollys suds natural cleaning product brand

Molly’s Suds is a natural cleaning product brand best known for powdered laundry detergent.

Orange House

orange house natural cleaning product brand

The Orange House natural cleaning products brand offers all orange oil based cleaning products.

Seventh Generation

seventh generation natural cleaning product

Seventh Generation is one of the largest natural cleaning products brands and is readily available at many stores. Be careful checking each product carefully because their toxicity ratings are drastically different by product type and scent.

Truce

truce natural cleaning products brand

Truce is a unique natural cleaning product brand that sells concentrated, refillable products where you just add water.

Even if you’re a brand loyalist, be ready to shop around between a few natural cleaning products brands. Some of the best brands specialize in just a few products, so you may find yourself loving a few different options. 

Whichever you choose, you’ll have peace of mind you’re on the path to a healthier life!

Our Picks for Best Natural Cleaning Products

Biokleen Bac-Out Stain Remover

Biokleen bac out natural cleaning product

Biokleen’s most well known product is also one of our favorites. The Bac Out Stain & Odor Remover is absolutely the best natural fabric cleaner on the market, breaking down odors and removing tough stains like wine and chocolate.

Earthworm Pet Stain & Odor Remover

earthworm pet stain and odor remover natural clean product

The Earthworm pet and stain eliminator uses enzymes to break down a variety of pet stains. Wondering how it stacks up against the popular Nature’s Miracle? It’s fragrance-free which makes it less likely to cause potential allergies.

Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub

meliora cleaning scrub natural cleaning product

This gentle home cleaning scrub by Meliora Cleaning Products has a refreshing peppermint tea tree scent and works wonders on a variety of surfaces, including stainless steel, stop tops and ceramic tiles.

Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner

better life all purpose cleaning spray natural cleaning product

No home is complete without a great all purpose cleaner. We recommend Better Life’s plant-based all purpose cleaner, which works just as well as the ones filled with chemicals.

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

dr bronners Castile soap natural cleaning product

Dish soap is one of our most used natural cleaning products. This Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap is not only safe, it’s totally multi-functional. We use it for everything from the dishers to the hardwood floors. Plus, you can dilute it to the right consistency, making it last even longer!

Ecover Zero Dish Soap

ecover zero dish soap natural cleaning product

Another great soap option is this Ecover Zero dish soap that gives your dishes all the love they need, without the nasty chemicals.

Best Places to Buy Natural Cleaning Products Online

As natural cleaning products become more and more popular they are available more frequently at brick and mortar stores. That being said, there are still way more natural cleaning products available online.

Plus, you don’t have to leave the house, so… you know.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market lets you shop organic and natural cleaning product brands from home. They carry both popular and hard to find brands with comparable, if not cheaper prices than the typical stores. You get free delivery on orders more than $49, and they send regular coupons too. There is an annual $59.95 membership cost, but if you don’t make back your membership savings in purchases they will return the different.

Amazon

We all know Amazon has pretty much everything, and natural cleaning products are no exception. Amazon carries pretty much all great natural brands in varying sizes, quantities, and scents. Plus, if you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can get everything delivered to your door SO fast (yes, even same day!).

Not an Amazon Prime member yet? Give it a try with this special Amazon Prime 30 Day Free Trial Offer!

Boxed

Once you know the natural cleaning products you love, you can use Boxed to save time and money by buying in bulk. The site delivers most orders within two business days and shipping is always free on order $49 and over, even without an annual membership fee. More bonuses? They have a house line that offers natural cleaning products at amazing prices, and show you exactly how much you save compared to a typical retail store. You’ll come for the cleaning supplies, but stay for groceries, bath and body products, pet supplies, wine and liquor.

If you love shopping in person, Target is constantly expanding their natural product offerings

Healthy Home Natural Cleaning Product Tips 

Regularly using your natural cleaning products in the home and following these tips can create an even safer environment. Regularly cleaning your living space is as important as the products you choose to use.

Air Exchange

Many of us are spending so much on air conditioning or heat that we have our homes closed up all year long. It can be healthy to get fresh air flow in from time to time. This is best accomplished by opening up windows for a few minutes in cold weather.

Dust

It’s all too easy for dust to accumulate in a home, especially in areas with extra clutter. Dusting regularly can help family members or visitors suffering from allergies. Remove clutter where you can, try to remove shoes when entering the home, and make sure to wash bed linens in hot water regularly to combat potential dust mites. If you have an unusually high amount of dust even after dusting regularly, check your air filters, it may be time for new ones!

Pets

Keep bets out of heavily used rooms (like bedrooms), and other areas with carpet. If they spend time outdoors they are tracking in all sorts of tracked-in goodies. Not to mention fur, dander, and potty training accidents. Brush them often to cut down on shedding, and if you can, keep them off the furniture!

Top Down

When using your natural cleaning products, always start from the top. Especially if you’re dusting, it’s better to start high and allow time for the dust to settle on the floor or carpet before you do a final carpet vacuum.

Sponges

Most sponges you find at the store are polyester or plastic and treated with triclosan. This seems harmless at glance, but these materials are slow to breakdown in landfills and can also produce the suspected carcinogen chloroform when rinsed with the chlorine commonly found in tap water. Use cellulose sponges instead. They are biodegradable and soak up spills faster. 

greenet cellulose sponges natural cleaning products

You can also cut down on extra waste by using Skoy Eco-Cleaning Cloths which are basically super absorbent reusable paper towels.

sky natural cleaning products cleaning cloths

Use Natural Cleaning Products

Of course, one of the biggest keys to keeping a healthier home is using natural cleaning products. Check back on the most toxic products list above and make sure to avoid anything containing of the ingredients. You can choose to make your own natural cleaning products, or simply shop healthier options. We’ve included some of our favorites in this beginner’s guide.

Our Favorite Natural Cleaning Product Books

If this natural cleaning product beginners guide has opened your eyes to a whole new world of information, and you want more, we recommend reading one of these books.

The Organically Clean Home

organically clean home natural cleaning products book

The Organically Clean Home: 150 Everyday Organic Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself–The Natural, Chemical-Free Way

Green Clean

green clean natural cleaning products book

Green Clean: Natural Cleaning Solutions for Every Room of Your Home

Toxic Free

toxic free natural cleaning products book

Toxic Free: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals That Are Making Your Sick

Slow Death by Rubber Duck

slow death by rubber duck natural cleaning products book

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things

We spend a A LOT of time in our homes. Probably way too much time but that’s neither here nor there. The important part is that we spend so much time there that the environment can affect our lives.

If we fill the place we are spending our time with toxic chemicals, we are putting ourselves at risk.

We clearly can’t rely on any sort of regulations to protect ourselves from dangerous ingredients in the marketplace, so the next best option is to become the smartest consumer possible.

If you’ve followed this entire guide you should be off to a great start for easy, impactful steps to create a safer home for yourself and your family.

A few simple changes can help you feel confident in the natural cleaning products you choose, and safer in your own home.

Ready to dive into more? Check out our Free 7 Day Healthier Living Challenge below to get started transforming all aspects of your life!

By |2019-07-29T20:09:12+00:00July 28th, 2019|Home, Wellness|0 Comments

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