23 Non-Toxic Homemade Cleaners To Help You Stop Poisoning Your Family And Planet
Who would have known that when household cleaning brands where claiming that their products “kill ninety-nine percent of all” they were, as a matter of fact, talking about “all” of us?
Luckily, the filth on commercial cleaning products has begun to be dusted off over the past few years, giving way to many DIY homemade cleaners as well as healthy premade supplies.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know to start tossing the toxins and bringing back some good into your life.
The Dangers Of Using Commercial, Chemical-Based Cleaning Products
If it’s time to clean the house again, chances are that you might end up using some of the products listed below:
|2||Clorox||Disinfecting wipes||Disinfecting wipes|
|21||Dawn||Dishwashing liquid soap||Ultra orange|
|27||Drano||Clog remover gel||Max|
|39||Tide||HE liquid laundry detergent||Free & Gentle|
|42||Swiffer||Multi-purpose floor and hardwood cleaner solution||WetJet open window fresh scent|
|51||Downy||Liquid fabric conditioner||Ultra april fresh|
|66||Febreze||Air freshener||Heavy duty crisp clean|
|68||Clorox||Disinfecting bathroom cleaner|
|96||Clorox||Multi-surface cleaner spray||409|
These are a few of Amazon’s best-selling household cleaning items which, all in all, add up to 19 ingredients that are either rated as of high or highest concern by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
This is because of the harmful effects these substances have on both us, humans, and our living planet.
|Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (C14 60%, C16 30%, C12 5%, C18 5%)||High concern|
|Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (C12-16)||Highest concern|
|Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride (C12-14)||High concern|
|Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride (C12-18)||High concern|
|Ammonium Hydroxide Highest concern||Highest concern|
|Cleaning Agent||Highest concern|
|Corrosion Inhibitors||Highest concern|
|Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate||High concern|
|Fabric softeners||High concern|
|FD&C Yellow 5||High concern|
|Sodium Borate||Highest concern|
|Sodium Hydroxide||Highest concern|
|Sodium Hypochlorite||Highest concern|
Environmental experts have estimated that there are approximately 62 toxic chemicals lingering around the average western household, largely because (to many people’s surprise) the cleaning products industry prevails virtually unregulated in most countries.
To dig deeper into the perils of chemical-cleaning, check out EWG’s PDF on the household cleaning products’ “Hall of Shame”, in which they have named the items that contain catastrophe within their polished packaging.
MAJOR health concerns for you and your family
The health impacts on humans that are linked to unsafe ingredients in cleaning products vary considerably.
For example, solvent cleaning agent Butoxydiglycol listed above has been implicated in pulmonary malfunction, in addition to respiratory and eye irritation; whereas insecticide and detergent Sodium Borate has been associated with fertility problems, damage to unborn children, and the disruption of the endocrine system.
By the same token, there is also proof that substance FD&C Yellow 5 can cause cancer, behavioural changes and hyperactivity in children, and has the potential of being a neurotoxin.
Overall, there has been a clear connection between cleaning products and asthma, cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, irritation, and accidents like poisoning or burning.
Experience Life has published an article on 8 of the worst chemicals that are frequently used on household cleaning products.
The Impact on the environment
But all the spraying, foaming, polishing, and washing with commercial products is not only adverse to our health – it‘s also detrimental to the natural world.
Surfactants and Methylisothiazolinone, for instance, are known to be toxic to aquatic life, while Ammonium Hydroxide is also considered to be extremely poisonous.
Likewise, Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (C12-16) in pair with other ammonium compounds have proven to cause reproductive toxicity in animals.
Chemicals washing into our oceans
When washed down the drain all those chemicals begin making their journey into waterways and, eventually, to our oceans.
Along with ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus are two substances commonly found in household cleaning products that not only pose serious threats to our oceans, but to any body of water they come into contact with.
These elements have been found to be regular invaders of our waters because waste treatment plants are unable to remove them during their cleaning process.
Peek into the story of how Princeton University researchers along with international scientists identified a rise in the levels of nitrogen, associated with human activities, back in 2017 in the corals of the Chinese National Park of Dongsha Atoll.
High amounts of nitrogen are capable of altering and disrupting these and similar natural ecosystems.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are also triggers for uncontrolled algal growth in bodies of water, a phenomenon that goes by the name of eutrophication.
Eutrophication often leads to low levels of oxygen in the water, which in turn results in the loss of fish, crabs, oysters, and many other aquatic creatures.
This eventually culminates in the so-called dead zones.
Modern Cleaning explains more about the topic of water pollution caused by cleaning items in its article “Water Pollution Caused by Cosmetic Chemicals, Cleaning Supplies, and Plastics”.
If your concerned about water pollution it’s not something that just affects our oceans. Have you ever considered how clean your drinking water is? If your looking for ways to filter your water, techniques to water purification is a good start.
Toxic gases and the greenhouse effect
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are gases commonly found in household cleaning products, that have the ability to flee their liquid or solid forms, and encroach upon the surrounding air.
Because VOCs are also emitted by transportation and industrial processes, in addition to the burning of biomass, they persist in our environment while going unnoticed, as they have no colour, smell, or taste.
These gases act mostly within the lowest tropospheric ozone layer, contributing to the creation of photochemical smog or potentially damaging ground level ozone.
Take a look at the New York State site’s post on VOCs to learn more about VOCs.
Wasteful product packaging
More than 8 million tons of plastic are thrown away into our oceans each year and it is estimated that, at present, one million plastic bottles are being bought around the world every minute.
The severity of this situation increases when discovering that an off-putting 91% of all this plastic is not recycled!
…and due to the brass-bound properties of this human-made material, all plastic ever made still exists today.
As expected, the majority of corporations that manufacture commercial household cleaning products show no exception to this addiction to plastic that is causing negative consequences on our environment.
Even before being disposed, plastic releases toxic chemicals in the forms of Bisphenol A (BPA), Phthalates, and Brominated Flame Retardants that are hazardous to our living planet and all creatures that inhabit it.
And if that wasn’t enough, once dumped, plastic poses serious threats to wildlife who accidentally ingest plastic waste and micro-plastics or get caught up in plastic objects.
For extra information on the plastic waste mess visit Plastic Oceans’ website.
Environmentally Safe Cleaning Products For The Home
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to these conventional chemical cocktail cleaning “solutions”, as we are now seeing a rise in choices that are safe for you, your family, and the natural world.
We can now either buy ready-made ethical cleaning products or, for those who would like to go all the way when it comes to conscientious cleaning, make our own products out of the vast array of DIY recipes available.
Watch this fun, short video to know more:
DIY Natural Cleaning Products Recipes
Find formulas for all kinds of natural cleaning products that work in the following list.
Keep in mind that castile soap (basic –high on the pH scale–) and vinegar, lemons, or limes (acidic –low on the pH scale–) neutralize each other.
Therefore, please refrain from mixing them together.
For the Bathroom
Mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of water, juice of 1 lemon, juice of one lime and a few peels. Spray on bathroom surfaces and rinse.
Fill ¼ of a foaming soap dispenser with grated or liquid castile soap, fill the rest with water, and mix.
Mellow cleaning formula
Mix ½ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of grapefruit, lavender, orange, or tea tree essential oil.
Heavy duty cleaning formula
Mix ¾ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of white vinegar, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and 5 drops of lemon essential oil.
Tub and shower
Mellow cleaning formula
Spray white vinegar on the tub or shower surface, let sit for 30 minutes and rinse.
Heavy duty cleaning with baking powder formula
Mix one cup of baking soda, ½ cup of salt, ½ cup of washing soda, and add 5 drops of lemon essential oil. Sprinkle the powder mixture onto a slightly damp surface, let sit for 10 minutes, scrub, and rinse.
For the Kitchen
Mix ¼ cup of olive oil and a teaspoon of coarse salt. You can use less or more olive oil and sea salt depending on the size of the pan.
Clogged sink drain
Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain along with ½ cup of salt, pour some boiling water into the drain and let it sit (without using the sink) for 1 to 3 hours.
During grim-clogging situations, let the formula sit for a whole night and redo the process 1 or 2 more times until the drain is clear.
For sanitizing both wooden and plastic cutting boards cut a lemon in half, rub it over all the sides of the board, let it sit for ten minutes, and rinse.
Mix 1 cup of grated or liquid castile soap, and 1 cup of water. Add this mixture into the first detergent compartment and fill the other one with white vinegar and 4 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice.
Mix 1 cup of liquid Castile soap with ¼ cup of water and, if you want, 5 drops of your favourite essential oil.
Homemade all-purpose cleaner countertops
For surfaces that are not made from marble, granite, or stone mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle.
Where as for marble, granite or stone countertops the following DIY all purpose cleaner with alcohol works best:
Mix ½ cup of vodka or rubbing alcohol, 1 and ½ cups of water, ½ teaspoon of grated or liquid castile soap, and 20 to 30 drops of one or two essential oils of your choice in a spray bottle. Rub gently (avoid scrubbing) with a cotton cloth.
Fill up ¼ of a microwavable cup with white vinegar, and mix with juice from half a lemon. Place the cup in the microwave and let it heat for 2 minutes, leaving the door closed for 5 more minutes once done. Wipe down with a cloth.
Mellow cleaning formula
Mix baking soda and water to create a thick moist paste, pour a semi-thick layer of the mixture all around the oven, let it sit for 40 minutes, and wipe clean.
Heavy duty cleaning formula
Heat the oven to 125ºC, turn it off, and immediately spray a 1 part white vinegar 1 part water mixture onto the messy areas. Pour some salt or baking soda on top, let the oven cool down and, once ready, wipe off with a towel.
Mix 1 and ¾ cups of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of grated or liquid castile soap, and 10 drops of orange essential oil. Spray on pans, let it sit for 10 minutes, scrub, and rinse.
Mix ½ cup of baking soda in a medium bucket of warm water. Clean all of the refrigerator’s surfaces using a cloth.
‘Rest of the house
All-purpose furniture polish
Mix ¼ cup of vinegar and ¾ cup of olive oil and apply it gently around the furniture using a cotton cloth.
This vinegar cleaning recipe (all purpose) works best for all kinds of materials with the exception of wood. To find a suitable recipe for wooden furniture polish please read below!
Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part warm water in a spray bottle, and spray thoroughly on the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rub off the stain using a soft brush and a little bit of liquid castile soap. Rinse off using a cloth or rag with warm water.
Mix 1 ½ cups of white vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket and mop the floor. To clean up tough stains mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts warm water, pour on the stains and scrub.
For wooden floors please read below!
Mix 1 teaspoon of salt with lime juice to create a thick paste. Apply the mixture onto the rusty surface and let it sit for 3 hours, then scrub off any residue.
Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 5 cups of warm water. Scrub the walls with a soft brush and rinse using water and a rag.
Windows and Mirrors
Mix 1 part of white vinegar, 5 parts water, squeeze in juice from half a lemon, and put the leftover peel in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the window or mirror, and wipe off with a cotton cloth or sponge.
Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, and 4 cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the wooden surface and gently wipe with a cotton cloth.
Wooden furniture polish
Mix ¼ cup of lemon or lime juice with ½ cup of olive oil and apply it gently to the furniture using a cotton cloth.
Mix 1 teaspoon of washing soda with 1 gallon of warm water and mop the floor.
For a post-cleaning polish you can mix 1 part olive or a vegetable oil of your choice with 1 part white vinegar. Apply a few drops in each area and rub it well until it creates a thin coat.
The Dark Truth About “Green” Ingredient Borax
Do a Google search on some green/natural/healthy/safe household cleaning recipes and there is a good chance you’ll come across the ingredient Borax.
Borax –a.k.a. sodium borate, boric acid, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate– is, indeed, toxic.
It is a pesticide that is generally used to annihilate weeds, fungus, as well as insects and that, in spite of its killing properties, is used on personal care products, cleaning products, and even some children’s gooey toys such as those offered by Play Doh.
Health concerns include its potential to cause skin and eyes irritation, and to act as a hormone disruptor in the human body.
We are assuming that by now, you are already shocked to know what toxic chemicals exist in your own home. Are you an environmentally conscious individual? You may also be interested to browse our article on The Environmental Impact Of Meat – the shocking truth awaits…
Not The DIY Type? Here Are 3 Premade Non-Toxic Household Cleaners
Whenever you don’t have the time to make your own recipes, there are always companies and brands that can offer you safe and reliable cleaning supplies.
The next three have some of the best natural cleaning products reviews and consequently, may be worth trying:
- Good old Bon Ami: This general use scouring powder is definitely the workhorse of the house! It is a product useful for cleaning just about anything around your home and has the perk of coming in a recyclable aluminium container.
- Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner: This product works well as a multi-purpose cleaner and even as laundry soap!
- Biokleen: The third favourite all-purpose cleaner!
Remember to beware of the common corporate practice of greenwashing.
That is all the companies that label their products as “eco-friendly” or “green”, but in reality are far from being so.
Make sure to always check the list of ingredients or to do some online research before setting out to buy a new brand and cleaning item.
For more options check out EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
Key Habits For Safer And Less Cleaning
Opening up to safe (and less!) cleaning will immediately place you on a life path in which there is more time and better health for you and your family.
A key habit to achieving these goals is to fit both the preparation of your healthy cleaning formulas and the actual cleaning comfortably within your weekly schedule.
Set apart 1 or 2 hours max per day for doing these two things. Also, if you happen to have kids or live with several other family members, try saving the heavy-duty cleaning for when they are around.
Divide tasks amongst each member according to their capabilities and leave everything sparkling clean… and, don’t forget to make it fun for the kids (so they stop associating a clean house with tediousness).
Finally, bear in mind that a clean person doesn’t necessarily clean all the time.
A clean person is, instead, someone who keeps things neat and tidy so there isn’t much left to do at the end of the day.
Take a look at A Mess Free Life’s post on 12 Habits of People Who Always Have a Clean Home for more tips.
Bonus: 3 Homemade Natural Air Fresheners… That Will Have Your House Smell Fantastic!
The final touch to a naturally clean house is a fresh smell!
Here are three handpicked DIY air freshener recipes for your house to smell just as good it looks.
Orange cinnamon scent
Mix ½ an orange, two cinnamon sticks, and 1 teaspoon of cloves with hot water in a small bowl or glass container (avoid plastic).
Lemon vanilla scent
Mix 1 sliced lemon, a few rosemary leaves, and 3 to 5 drops of vanilla essential oil with hot water in a small bowl or glass container (avoid plastic).
Minted lime scent
Mix 1 sliced lime, a few mint leaves, and 3 to 5 drops of vanilla essential oil with hot water in a small bowl or glass container (avoid plastic).
If you want to prepare these in advance, you can put them in the fridge or freezer once they have cooled down to room temperature. They will last 1 to 2 weeks if kept in the fridge and a month if kept in the freezer.
To make these air fresheners release their smell, simply place them over a tea light burner.
If you want other tips on how to keep your home clean and smelling great, watch this video below:
The Bottom Line
Does it make any sense to live in a venomous house when there are tons of harmless and effective DIY cleaning recipes (or premade products) suitable for every kind of mess?
Of course not…
So, if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and feel free to speak out your thoughts or doubts on the comments below.