Cleaning the house is, well, a big job for moms. Reading product labels to find the most non-toxic cleaning products can feel incredibly overwhelming to even the savviest chemical spotter. Unfortunately, most products that make non-toxic claims are actually full of chemicals. We talk more about greenwashing and all of the things to know about it in this article. Some of the most well-known “clean” brands are sadly not full of amazing ingredients, Read on for what you need to know about household cleaners and our favorite recommendations!
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What Are Non-Toxic Cleaning Products… Really?
Non-toxic cleaners are basically cleaning products that claim not to contain toxins, so they’re not poisonous. But there’s a big difference between being not poisonous and being safe. And unfortunately, there is little regulatory oversight of “non-toxic” products:
- No regulatory agency confirms that “non-toxic” products contain no toxic ingredients.
- No one ensures that manufacturers of “non-toxic” products disclose all the ingredients on their product labels.
Interestingly, an independent investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning products revealed that many contain substances linked to serious health problems. (Environmental Working Group)
Manufacturers of “non-toxic” cleaning products often omit many of the ingredients commonly found in household cleaners from their product labels. Or they replace ammonia, bleach, and chlorine with less harmful ingredients like vinegar.
But a vinegar-based cleaning product can still contain harmful ingredients, like fragrances, which we are trying to avoid, so reading the ingredient list is a must.
Why Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products?
While non-toxic is not our favorite label (more on that later), it’s definitely important to understand the ingredients that are in everyday cleaning products because the harsh chemicals used in these products come with potential health risks, like:
- Burning sensation of the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract
- Skin irritation and chemical burns
- Difficulty breathing and coughing
- Asthma and other respiratory problems
- Headaches and nausea
- Higher risk of birth defects
- Breast cancer due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cleaning products
- Obesity due to altered gut microbiota as a result of frequent use of common household disinfectants
What Are The Most Toxic Cleaning Products You Should Avoid?
Our hall of shame list below is not exhaustive but covers some of the worst offenders - big brands consumers use and trust for their household cleaning needs.
These cleaners claim to be non-toxic but actually have plenty of harmful chemicals.
- Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner
- Whink Rust Stain Remover
- Mrs. Meyers
Walmart Great Value Products
Items sold under the Great Value brand do not list all product ingredients and use general terms for ingredients, so you don’t know what’s really in their products.
Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder
Independent testing showed that this product contains 146 different chemicals, including some that are known to cause cancer, asthma, and reproductive problems. More alarming was that the most toxic ingredients - formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform, and toluene - are not even listed on the product’s label.
Spray Cleaners Containing Asthmagens
Asthmagens are chemicals that can trigger asthma attacks in individuals who have asthma and can cause asthma-free people to develop asthma. Brand names that contain these chemicals include:
- Mr. Clean
Non-Toxic Cleaners by Category
If you are looking for cleaners specific to certain areas of the home, here are a few to consider.
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for the Kitchen
AspenClean Natural All Purpose Cleaner
Pro: Clean ingredients
Con: $9.99 for a 22 fl. oz. bottle
ATTITUDE Multipurpose Spray Cleaner
Pro: Clean ingredients
Con: $16.75 for 27.1 fl. oz.
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for the Bathroom
Truly Free Bathroom Cleaner
- Safe to use everywhere in the bathroom
- No toxic chemicals
- Reusable spray bottle with refill pouches decrease waste
- Budget-Friendly (as low as $10.17 for 48 fl. oz.)
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for Pets
Puracy Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo
- No harsh chemicals
- Safe for use in at-home machines
- No synthetic fragrances or perfumes
Clean and Green Pet Safe Carpet Cleaner
- No bleach, ammonia, dyes, phosphates, or fragrances
Our Picks: 2 Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products For A Healthier Home
Remember we mentioned earlier that non-toxic is not our favorite label? That’s because products labeled as non-toxic often contain harmful chemicals.
Instead, we prefer toxic-free products - products that are certified by the ToxicFree Foundation to be 100 percent free of all harmful chemicals, contain only natural ingredients, and are eco-friendly. So, as you might imagine, our two top picks are actually toxic-free!
We couldn’t love anything better than our very own Clean It Well. It’s perfect for every surface in your home, including your hardwood floors, granite, marble, and windows. It’s so nice to have ONE bottle to reach for when it’s time to clean. Your cleaning cabinet will be so tidy and your wallet thicker when you have fewer cleaning products to purchase. We even use it to clean our eyeglasses! Read on for why…
- ALL-PURPOSE: Use this stuff everywhere - kitchen, bathroom, kids' toys, stroller.
- TOXICFREE®: Made with only all-natural ingredients. Certified toxic-free from the ToxicFree® Foundation.
- SUPER CONCENTRATED: A little bit goes a long way. This bottle will last you forever… well, not quite forever :). Great cost savings! Easy to mix with water in your favorite spray bottle with suggested concentrations for various areas of the home.
- GREAT SCENT: You'll love the Citrus scent. You may even enjoy cleaning...okay maybe that's too far. Many natural cleaners smell pretty terrible.
- Our favorite part. As a toxic-FREE cleaner, Clean It Well is safe for your children to help clean. With a house full of boys, we love sending them to their bathroom with a spray bottle and a rag. Winning!
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What we love about this family-friendly cleaning product:
- Non-toxic and plant-based
- Refillable to decrease waste
- Easily cleans many different hard surfaces throughout your home