The Dirt on Cleaning Products

Even so-called natural cleaning products could be hiding harmful chemicals. Make a clean sweep with these truly toxin-free cleansers.
Some cleaning products are full of toxic ingredients

Do you know what's in your cleaning products?

Do you know what’s really in the bottles under your kitchen sink? Some of your store-bought cleaning products—even some of those touting green, natural ingredients—may be hiding some seriously toxic chemicals. Unlike the food and beverage industry, manufacturers aren’t legally required to list all of their ingredients on their bottles. That means they can not only omit what’s really inside, but misrepresent their product by suggesting their cleaners are all-natural.

A recent study published in the journal of Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health took a look at detergents, air fresheners, and other cleaning goods sold throughout Australia and the United States. The items tested emitted 156 different kinds of organic chemicals. Forty-two of these are classified as toxic by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. But how many were actually listed on the labels? Just six.

Switching to natural cleaners can help reduce toxins, accidental poisoning, and asthma triggers. You can also make your own household cleaners. Much of the antiseptic ingredients needed to disinfect your home exist in nature and are commonly found around the house. In combination with some aromatherapy essential oils, you can clean your home from top to bottom without the risk of leaving a toxic trail behind.

Coconut oil

Cleaning with mineral spirits, a solvent derived from petroleum, is effective, but exposes you to toxic hydrocarbons that can cause skin burns, rapid heartbeat, and convulsions among other symptoms. Instead, choose an all-natural oil you probably have in your kitchen cupboard. Long hailed as a superfood that can boost your energy and immune system, coconut oil can also be used to help sanitize and clean your home! Use it to clean paint brushes naturally as an alternative to turpentine. Saturate the corner of a towel in coconut oil to remove chewing gum from just about any surface, including your hair.


Blending aromatherapy into your natural cleaning strategy can keep your home clean while also keeping you relaxed. Add a few drops of lavender to a spray bottle filled with water and the juice from a lemon to create a soothing air freshener. With antifungal and calming properties, lavender can be added to just about any homemade house cleaner to enhance your mood and give your cleaning a boost.


Olive oil

The hydrocarbons found in wax and furniture polish can cause furniture-polish poisoning, leading to agitation, dizziness, and severe stomach pain, to name a few. Combine common household ingredients to keep your family safe and your furniture looking great. Mix two or three tablespoons of olive oil and fresh lemon juice to create a natural wood cleaner, and use with a soft, damp cloth. Adding ¼ cup of white vinegar will help keep your wood clean while you polish.

White Distilled Vinegar

The king of toxin-free household cleaners, white distilled vinegar acts as a disinfectant and cleaning base. Studies show white vinegar can kill a variety of germs and viruses. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils like lemon or thyme to a cup of white distilled vinegar to clean everything from your mirrors to refrigerator shelves. Adding white vinegar to your laundry can also help remove spots and keep your clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh.


Replace corrosive cleaners that can harm your skin and cookware with inexpensive table salt. Add a few tablespoons of coarse salt to a cup of water to clean pots and lift away burnt or stubborn residue. You can also apply the same principle in your oven by sprinkling salt liberally over spills. Let it sit for about a half-an-hour before wiping away with clean water and a towel.

Baking Soda

The hydrochloric acid in toilet-bowl cleaners is corrosive and toxic, and can cause serious harm to curious pets and children. Avoid inhaling hydrochloric acid fumes by replacing your toilet cleaner with a cup of white vinegar, ½ cup of baking soda, and some essential oils like lemon or tea tree oil. Mixing up two cups of baking soda, four or five cups of boiling water, and a cup of white distilled vinegar can also open up a stubborn bathtub or sink clog.

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