Stay Healthy with Natural Cleaning Products

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • When we think about health, we mostly focus on food and exercise. However, the environment (i.e. the air we breathe) is just as important to being well. Although there is not a lot we can do regarding the outside toxins and polluted air we are exposed to, besides choose a more natural place to live, we can control our environment inside our homes. Even though loose safety regulations make it difficult to understand what the ingredients are in our cleaning products and whether or not they are safe, being an educated consumer of natural products or making your own with a few inexpensive simple ingredients can do wonders for your family’s health and wellbeing.

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    Today’s conventional cleaning products are mostly petroleum based.  They often contain toxic chemicals such as phosphates, NPE’s, phthalates, VOC’s, glycol ethers, ammonia and ethanolamine.[1] Avoiding these ingredients would be much easier if companies were required to list ingredients on the labels of cleaning products, but unfortunately this is not the case. As a result, the air quality inside our homes, especially for obsessive cleaners, is negatively impacting our health. In fact, the EPA reported that some homes have chemical levels that are 70% higher than outside air.[2] Even though many natural cleaners now exist on the market, a growing million-dollar industry, unfortunately many of these products are not guaranteed to be much safer than their original counterpart.


    Make sure you read labels carefully or go to the brand’s website to get more answers before trusting that the product you are buying is truly natural, nontoxic and biodegradable. For example, many products promote that they are free of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). However, this is an ingredient that has already been banned since 1978 so that information is misleading.[3] Also keep an eye out for petroleum distillates such as benzene. Other “natural” ingredients you’ll want to avoid are limonene (citric acid), pine oil, coconut diethanolamide (foaming agent), 1,4-dioxane and artificial fragrances.[1] [4] 


    So what are some of the health issues associated with the toxins in cleaning products. The obvious ones would be related to breathing such as a higher susceptibility to allergies, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, headaches, sneezing, dizziness and other respiratory problems. Skin and eye irritation (watering and redness) are also quite common when exposed to synthetic chemicals. Long-term exposure can even lead to more serious health consequences such as cancer, brain damage, nervous and endocrine system disruption, and even hormonal problems, which can contribute to infertility and reproductive system issues.[1] [3]


    If you’re going to buy natural pre-made cleaning products, avoid any that list dangers or toxicity warnings. Instead of being swayed by labels such as “eco-friendly” or “natural” (which are not properly regulated), look for specific claims such as “solvent-free”, “no petroleum-based ingredients”, “no phosphates”, etc. Make sure that the ingredients are primarily plant-based and that the products come in recyclable containers that can be bought in bulk or in concentrated forms to limit packaging waste and protect the environment.[3]


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    Far superior to buying any pre-made cleaning product is to make your own. You can clean your house, do your dishes and wash your clothes safely with a few simple ingredients – baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, borax, and liquid castile soap.[5]


    Baking Soda – Cleans surfaces, deodorizes, scours, unclogs drains. Removes odors, carpet stains and scuff marks/grease spills on no-wax floors. Cleans silver.

    Vinegar – Cleans, cuts grease, removes mildew and soap build-up.

    Lemon Juice – Cleans/shines grass, copper and chrome. Kills germs, removes odors and stains (including clothing).

    Hydrogen Peroxide – Disinfectant, kills germs,  sanitizes. Natural alternative to bleach for whitening and removing clothing stains.

    Borax – Cleans floors, windows, disinfects. Great laundry booster. Deodorizes and removes carpet stains. Unclogs drains.

    Castile Soap – Laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, floor and carpet cleaner.


    For a great All-Purpose Cleaner, mix the following:

    -½ cup vinegar

    -¼ cup baking soda (or 2 tsp borax)

    -½ gallon of water


    [1] Mercola, J. (2008, May 24). How safe are green cleaning products? Retrieved from


    [2] Marson, A. (2010, August 26). Houshold cleaning products could be making you sick. Retrieved from


    [3] (n.d.) Retrieved from


    [4] Conis, E. (2008, August 28). Safely clean? Retrieved from


    [5] (n.d.) Retrieved from 

Published On: May 03, 2013