Did you know that most cleaning products bought from supermarkets and groceries are toxic to human health?
In addition, commercial cleaning products are loaded with substances that can harm the ecosystem.
Cleaning products are expensive, and with long-term use, they can harm your health and contribute to environmental pollution during the manufacturing and disposal process.
Cleaning products are considered hazardous waste because of their toxic ingredients.
Persons who are exposed to cleaning products due to work acquire asthma due to continuous exposure. Studies have shown that some housekeepers, cleaners, or janitors who use these substances while on the job acquire occupational asthma, and it has been reported that cleaning products have caused this.
In this article, you will learn which chemicals to avoid in commercial cleaning products, the safe ingredients used for home cleaning, homemade eco-friendly cleaning products, and how to prepare them at home.
For all good humans out there, take care of our precious Mother Earth and your health by using eco-friendly cleaning products at home.
Why Avoid Commercial Cleaning Products? What Does it Contain?
The Environmental Working Group reviewed over 2,000 household commercial cleaning products; 53% contain harmful ingredients detrimental to the lungs. Most of these cleaning products are oven cleaners, corrosive drain cleaners, and acid-based toilet bowl cleaners. 
Have you ever experienced cleaning the bathroom with muriatic acid then suddenly cough and experience chest discomfort? Muriatic acid causes those symptoms. Imagine being exposed to this twice or thrice a week for how many years, it will inevitably affect your health. Here are the commercial cleaning ingredients you should avoid (and why you should avoid them).
Antibacterial soaps, antiseptic wash, or disinfectant cleaning products are recommended to kill bacteria, viruses, and germs. However, some of these cleaning products contain triclosan that can cause potentially harmful effects. Many environmental groups have expressed their concern about this antibacterial ingredient.
Some studies have shown that long-term exposure to triclosan can interfere with the body’s hormone for metabolism. Also, children who use synthetic antibacterial products at an early age have an increased risk of developing asthma, allergies, or eczema. Choose wisely when buying an antibacterial product, check the ingredients and stay away from products containing triclosan.
Clorox is a widely known household cleaning product that contains chlorine bleach. Although chlorine bleach is an effective household disinfectant for homes and hospitals, prolonged use can harm your health and your family. Have you ever noticed that whenever the kitchen surfaces are cleaned with Clorox, there is the need to inhale fresh air? Chlorine bleach can also cause burning and irritation when it comes in contact with your skin.
The most dangerous situation is when chlorine bleach reacts with ammonia, it will turn into chlorine gas that will cause cellular damage in the lungs and nasal passageways. Cleaning products that contain ammonia are floor polish, window cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners, and many more. So, make sure not to mix chlorine-containing cleaning products with ammonia.
Hydrochloric acid is also known as muriatic acid. It is a common household cleaner used to clean toilet bowl, bathroom tiles, and porcelain. It has corrosive properties that can get rid of tough stains, making it an effective household cleaning product. However, hydrochloric acid is a toxic ingredient, and it’s something you should avoid if you want an eco-friendly and safe cleaning product. When hydrochloric acid comes in contact with the eyes and skin, may cause a severe burn, or when inhaled, it can do irreversible damage to the lungs.
In addition to the dangers of coming in contact with hydrochloric acid, it’s not good for the environment as well. When hydrogen chloride is released in the atmosphere, it incorporates rain, cloud, and fog water. Thus it is a great contributor to acid rain and smog (smoke + fog).
Fabric softeners and dishwashing liquids contain the sensitizing agent called formaldehyde. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde, even in low levels, can cause respiratory problems. When it comes to contact with the skin, dermatitis, skin irritation, and itching may occur as well.
Formaldehyde is also a cancer hazard. Studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute have shown that some industrial workers who have long-term exposure to formaldehyde were diagnosed with myeloid leukemia or nasopharyngeal cancer (cancer of the nasal passage, pharynx, larynx, or the esophagus). 
Household ammonia, otherwise known as ammonium hydroxide, is another harmful chemical found in many household cleaning products. It is used to clean sinks, toilets, tubs, tiles, and countertops. Ammonia-containing household products are effective in cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, these can even kill mildew.
However, prolonged exposure to ammonia in the air can cause immediate burning in the nose, eyes, throat, and respiratory tract. When ammonia is ingested, it leads to drowsiness, syncope (temporary loss of consciousness), or poison overdose (which can also lead to life-threatening conditions).
That is why it’s important to keep cleaning products out of children’s reach and label the containers. If you use ammonia-containing cleaning products, don’t forget to wear gloves and use them in a well-ventilated area (so the strong odor can escape from the room). Better yet, choose non-toxic cleaning products or make your own at home.
Another toxic ingredient found in commercial cleaning products is 2-butoxyethanol. It is a colorless, liquid solvent found in glass cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, and liquid soap. 2-butoxyethanol is a strong solvent that can dissolve dirt and grease.
2-butoxyethanol can enter the body through inhalation of the vapor or through direct skin contact. Even short-term exposure to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol can cause pulmonary edema and kidney damage. 
Can You Clean Your Home Without These Toxic Substances?
Yes, you can clean your home without using these toxic substances. More companies worldwide have resorted to eco-friendly cleaning products that are as effective as those products containing the harmful chemicals mentioned above. If you decide to purchase cleaning products in the supermarket, choose the best eco-friendly household cleaning products that are odorless or fragrance-free.
Do you want to hear the best part? You can make cleaning products at home, using stuff found in your kitchen. That’s right! You don’t have to be a chemist to whip up your own cleaning products; all you need is to read this article.
Not only will you be saving a lot of bucks, but you’ll also have peace of mind that you’re not exposing your family to the harmful effects of toxic cleaning products. The best part of making your cleaning products at home is you’re doing your part in saving our environment. In the next part of the article, you will learn about the safe ingredients used for home cleaning and how to make one at home.
Safe Ingredients Used for Home Cleaning
Many DIY cleaning ingredients can be found in your pantry (besides soap and water). You’ve probably seen videos online where the combination of baking soda and lemon juice is used to clean kitchen surfaces, and it’s true. You can do that at home too. Here are environmentally safe ingredients commonly used for homemade cleaning products.
1. Baking Soda
On top of the list is baking soda. Wise moms know that dissolving baking soda in water is a nifty hack to clean surface dirt and remove gunk. Baking soda is very effective in cleaning spots in the kitchen like the countertop, stovetop, or refrigerator. When baking soda is mixed with lemon and vinegar, it’s an excellent mixture for cleaning and killing germs.
You can also sprinkle baking soda over coffee stains in cups; just wipe it with a damp sponge and rinse. If you have Kool-Aid stains on your kitchen countertops, baking soda can remove these as well. Do you have nasty odors in your shoes, baking soda can remove them too. Baking soda is also widely used to clean white shoes. It’s incredible what a single kitchen ingredient can do, isn’t it?
Another ingredient found in your pantry that can be used as a cleaning product is cornstarch. Cornstarch is commonly used to clean windows, shampoo carpets, and polish furniture. To clean the carpet or rug, mix baking soda with cornstarch, sprinkle it over the carpet, and let it sit for 10-20 minutes before vacuuming. It can remove dirty and oily spots on the carpet or rug. Also, it can absorb foul odors in the carpet, so it looks and smells brand new.
Aside from being used as a carpet cleaner and deodorizer, cornstarch mixed with water is an excellent non-abrasive scrub. The cornstarch solution is used to scrub bathrooms and clean surface tops in the kitchen. If you’re having a hard time scrubbing off stains in pots and pans, sprinkling it with cornstarch will do the trick.
3. Lemon Juice
We all know that lemon juice is a strong food acid. That is why it is an effective household cleaning product that kills any kind of bacteria at home. The acid found in lemons has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is considered nature’s most effective natural bleach. Lemons can also remove foul odors from the refrigerator, your cat’s litter box, or any kind of foul smell in your house.
In addition to its antimicrobial properties, the citrus smell of lemons is invigorating and refreshing. Just by using lemons in combination with salt, baking soda, and vinegar, you won’t need any of the toxic chemical-based products in your household.
4. White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar diluted in water has about 5% acidity. It is hailed as the most natural, non-toxic cleaning household cleaning material to kill household bacteria and remove foul odors and stains.
The solution can be used to clean ovens and microwaves. Just place distilled white vinegar and water in a heat-safe bowl, place the bowl in your oven or microwave, and heat the solution long enough for it to boil. Leave the solution inside the oven or microwave and let it cool before opening it. Simply wipe away splattered foods with a damp cloth, and you will find the oven or microwave clean and odor-free.
We all know ethyl or isopropyl alcohol is an excellent disinfectant. However, there are other forms of alcohol used for cleaning your home. For instance, vodka is a great odor remover.
Vodka mixed with water and essential oils in a spray bottle can be used to spritz your bed for fresher linen or if you need to freshen up your closet.
It can also be used in bathrooms to polish chrome fixtures, get rid of soap scum, and clean glass and mirrors. Vodka with water can also be sprayed to remove underarm scents in shirts and wash away mildew in a wet load of laundry. Say goodbye to grease because vodka mixed with vinegar and lemon juice can be used as a kitchen cleaner and remove foul odors. Stocking lots of vodka at home is useful after all.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
You’ve known hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant to clean wounds. But there’s more to hydrogen peroxide than cleaning wounds. It can also be used to disinfect the bathroom or kitchen. It’s also an excellent stain remover for white clothes.
Those who work in hospitals agree with this; they use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains in their white uniform, which is proven effective. The mild bleaching effect and solid oxidizing properties of hydrogen peroxide make it a cost-effective, multi-purpose cleaner. It can surely kill toxins and germs in your home.
7. Oxygen Bleach
There is a lot of oxygen-based bleach available in the market, and they are usually made up of sodium peroxide or sodium bicarbonate. Although it is technically bleach, its chemical components are less harsh than chlorine bleach. When oxygen bleach is exposed to water, the oxygen lifts the stain and removes the dirt off whatever it is that you’re cleaning.
Oxygen bleach is an effective household stain removal. Oxygen bleach does not contain chlorine, so it is perfect for cleaning clothes, killing bacteria, and making your home pristine and bright, just like chlorine bleach.
Another inexpensive cleaning ingredient found in your pantry is sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt. There are three reasons why salt is excellent for cleaning; it absorbs water to avoid fresh spills becoming a permanent stain, it’s abrasive (a good scrub), and a superb catalyst when combined with vinegar and lemon juice.
To make a salt cleaning paste, mix it with dish soap and baking soda. You can remove dirt on kitchen countertops, appliances, sinks, drains, and many more. This powerful cleaner can remove even bloodstains, get rid of mildew, and you can also wash your vegetables with saltwater. It’s incredible how a simple salt can be a great cleaning product.
9. Washing Soda
Washing soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, is a natural cleaner. The Environmental Working Group classified washing soda as a safe and non-toxic cleaning ingredient. Washing soda is used to remove greasy build-up from pans, pots, and oven tracks. If you have tea and coffee stains in your ceramic or plastic containers, washing soda can do the job as well.
You can also use washing soda to remove soap scum in bathrooms or the hard-to-clean surfaces around the house. Washing soda can be bought from hardware stores or supermarkets, most probably in the aisle near laundry detergents.
Eco-Friendly Recipes of Homemade Cleaning Products for the Kitchen (and the Whole House)
Now that you know the common safe ingredients used for home cleaning, you can be at peace that you’re taking care of your health and of your family. Using toxic cleaning products with harsh chemicals is expensive, can be harsh to your skin, and far worse, can have damaging effects to the body with prolonged use.
Can you make safe cleaning products at home with the ingredients you can find in your pantry? Of course, you can! Just make sure to properly label the containers you mix them in and keep them out of your children’s reach. Follow these DIY tips in making your homemade cleaning solutions.
If you want to make a multi-purpose cleaner to clean kitchen tops, tables, or just about any surface, try this:
Mix ½ cup of distilled white vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 2 liters of water (½ gallon). You can prepare the solution in a bowl or gallon and transfer it to a spray bottle. Don’t forget to label the bottle as ‘Multi-purpose cleaner’. If you need to remove stains of water deposits in shower panels, windows, mirrors, bathroom chrome fixtures, use a good-quality cloth. Anytime you need to wipe off dirt, just pick up the bottle and spray it on any surface.
Stain Remover for Carpets
Carpet stains are a big headache. Coffee stains or wine spills are a big problem, but not for long now, with the help of this carpet stain remover formula. Try these different procedures; the effectiveness will, of course, depend on the type of stain and the material of your carpet.
First, sprinkle the carpet stain with baking soda. Then mix ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar, one tbsp of dishwashing soap, and water and place it in a spray bottle. Spray the carpet stain generously and leave it there to soak for 10-15 minutes. Blot with a dry and clean towel until the carpet stain is removed. Depending on the type of stain, you can spray the solution on the carpet and leave it for a few hours.
For heavy-duty carpets, especially those made of nylon and wool, mix ¼ cup of salt, white vinegar, borax, and clean with a brush or sponge with warm soapy water. If you have grease spots on your carpet, sprinkle cornstarch over the stain and wait for at least 30 minutes before vacuuming.
Glass Stovetop or Ceramic Cleaner
If you have a glass or ceramic stovetop, it requires a special type of cleaner, not just the usual multi-purpose cleaner. In a small bowl, mix one tbsp of dishwashing soap and one tbsp of hydrogen peroxide. Pour the solution over your glass or ceramic stovetop, swirl it around using a sponge or brush and let it sit for at least four minutes. Using warm water, clean your sponge and wipe off the excess solution.
Bathroom Mold Remover
The heat and moisture in the bathroom promote a humid environment, and this is an ideal place for molds to grow. Every time you shower or even wash your hands, molds multiply in caulk, tile grout, or anywhere in the walls. You can get rid of bathroom molds with this simple and eco-friendly cleaning solution.
Mix two parts of baking soda and one part distilled white vinegar and water. Don’t stop stirring the mixture until it’s as thick as a paste. Spread the bathroom remover solution to the surface where there are molds present and allow it to dry. Scrub the stains and molds and wipe with water. If there are a lot of molds, let the solution stay for at least 60 minutes before scrubbing it.
Stain Remover for Clothes
Chlorine-based bleach is the popular choice for removing stains in clothes. But due to the powerful oxidizing property of household bleaches, it is considered a toxic, corrosive gas, and it’s not eco-friendly. Inhaling or swallowing chlorine bleach is a poison. Why not resort to a more eco-friendly and safe stain remover for clothes? Here’s how:
Use hydrogen peroxide to remove clothing stains in white clothes. Dip a cotton ball or swab in hydrogen peroxide and rub it in the stain. For colored clothing, saturate the stain with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (equal parts). If the stain is not removed, add one or two tablespoons of laundry detergent and distilled vinegar in a bucket of water. It’s better to soak the garment overnight. Rinse and wash the garment the next day.
Coffee and Tea Stain Remover
Many can relate to busy mornings – sometimes you are in a rush to go to work and accidentally spill coffee on your clothes or carpet. It’s not a great way to start your day, but that’s okay. The coffee stain can be removed with this effective homemade cleaning solution.
Combine these in a bowl – two cups of warm water, one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar. Stir with a spoon. Remove the coffee or stain using a clean cloth through gentle blotting. Do not remove vigorously; repeat the process until the stain comes off. Do not allow the solution to dry; rinse with water immediately after removing the stain.
If you want to save more money, how about making your own dishwashing liquid? Here’s how you can do it:
- Heat two to three cups of water, bring to a boil.
- Combine grated borax and bar soap (it can be a homemade soap or the ones you can buy in supermarkets).
- Pour the boiling water on the grated borax and bar soap, and whisk it until it’s completely melted.
- Let the mixture cool for 6-8 hours with occasional stirring.
- Add essential oil of your choice for fragrance.
- You can transfer it to a squirt bottle. Shake it well before use.
Kitchen and bathroom drains are prone to clogging, that’s a fact, and it’s inevitable. Over time, the gunk will accumulate in the drain, which will reduce the water flow and eventually clog your drain. Commercial clog removers contain highly toxic chemicals of bleach and lye to remove dirt in a clog. Why not make your own DIY clog remover?
- Heat one gallon of water, add ½ cup of salt and pour in the drain for light drain cleaning.
- If you want a stronger cleaning solution, pour half a cup of baking soda in the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar, making sure to hit the tubes, not spill directly down the drain.
- After 15 minutes, if you have metal plumbing, pour boiling water down the drain to wash down the clog.
- If you have plastic pipes, mildly heated water should do fine. Pouring the boiling hot water into a plastic or PVC pipe with vinegar present can produce dangerous fumes, and you don’t want that to happen.
Laundry detergents contain common harmful chemicals like chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, and ammonium sulfate. Although you’re at ease that laundry detergents can keep your soiled clothes clean, the risks outweigh the benefits because its toxic chemicals are harmful to your health. Why not make your own laundry detergent at home? It’s simple, pretty cheap, and can clean clothes as effectively as laundry detergents. Although you must remember that certain hard to remove stains need a certain approach. Here’s how you can make homemade laundry detergent:
Grate a bar of soap like Ivory, mix it with two parts borax and two parts washing soda. For every wash load, use three tbsp of homemade laundry detergent. Make sure to label your homemade detergent and place it in a covered container. You don’t want moisture in it as it will lose its effectiveness. If your homemade detergent hardens, discard it. The hardened detergent will not dissolve completely in the washing machine and may leave soap residue on your garments. If you want a stronger homemade laundry detergent, increase the amount of borax. If you want some fragrance on your DIY detergent, choose a bar soap with essential oil.
Stain Remover for Upholstery
As soon as you have stains on your upholstery sofa or couch, treat it immediately. The stain on your couch can become permanent. Upholstery comes in different fabrics; polyester, cotton, leather, silk, and many more. For each kind of fabric, there’s a different solution for the homemade detergent. Here’s what you need to know on how to make your own upholstery stain remover.
- For leather upholstery: Mix half a cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the stain and buff it with a soft cloth.
- For synthetic upholstery: Mix half a cup of vinegar, half a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and a cup of warm water. Spray the stained area, and scrub it with a soft cloth until the stain is gone.
- For cotton upholstery: Mix one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in two cups of cold water. Use a brush or white cloth, work on the outer edge of the stain first, and work your way towards the center. Follow this procedure so you can avoid the spreading of the stain.
Cleaner for Toilet Bowl
The common chemicals found in toilet bowl cleaners are hydrochloric acid and bleach. As mentioned earlier in the post, these harmful chemicals are irritating to the eyes, skin, and can even burn your throat. If it comes in contact with your skin, it may cause a burning sensation as well. So why not resort to an eco-friendly, homemade toilet cleaner? Here’s how:
- Mix one cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl, and let it sit for at least five minutes. A combination of one part lemon juice and two parts of borax will work too.
- Scrub the toilet with a brush, then rinse. Repeat the process when necessary.
- For rust stains in toilet cleaners, spray generous amounts of vinegar on the toilet bowl and leave it there overnight. The next day, brush it with baking soda.
- Fizzy soda, like Coke, can leave your toilet spotless clean too. Pour Coke on the edges of the toilet bowl and leave them overnight. Coke contains phosphoric acid that lifts off dirt – it’s cheap, and it’s effective.
You can also use Coke to remove:
- grease stains from clothing
- rust from metal tools, bolts, nuts, and chrome
- baked-on grease from pans and pots
- get rid of slugs and snails
- corrosions from the terminal of car batteries
- shine coins and jewelry
- get rid of oil stains on pavements or concrete 
Cleaner for Tub and Tiles
If you want quick and easy cleaning for your bathroom tub or tiles anywhere in your house, all you need is baking soda and vinegar. Using a damp sponge, wipe the dirty surfaces with distilled white vinegar, but not too much as vinegar can break the tile grout. Then sprinkle baking soda, and rinse with fresh water. This is a great eco-friendly homemade cleaning product for the kitchen.
If you want a ready-to-use solution, get a large bowl and spray bottle. Here are the ingredients you need:
- ¾ cup of baking soda
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- Three tbsp of salt
- Three tbsp of dishwashing liquid
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- Ten drops of essential oil of your choice
Mix all the ingredients mentioned above in a large bowl, mix it well, and you can transfer it to a spray bottle for easy use. Don’t forget to label it and keep it out of your children’s reach. If you’re cleaning your tub or tiles, simply spray the solution on the dirty area. Use a damp rag or sponge to clean, and then rinse it with water.
Cleaner for Refrigerator
Your refrigerator is where you keep all your food, and you don’t want your stored food smelling bad, do you? It is advisable to give it a deep cleaning every 3-4 months. It involves taking all the food, transferring it to a cooler, turning off the refrigerator, removing the shelves, and letting the ice melt on the freezer. Then you can make your own homemade cleaning solution for the fridge. Here’s what you need to do:
- In a glass spray bottle, add two parts of hot water and one part of white vinegar.
- You can add lemon juice or essential oil of your choice.
- Spray the solution inside the refrigerator and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it with a damp cloth.
- The mixture of hot water and vinegar will loosen stuck food and eliminate undesirable odors.
- Avoid unwanted odors on your refrigerator, place activated charcoal on your fridge and change it at least once a month.
In addition to all these homemade non-toxic cleaning products, many eco-friendly companies are manufacturing eco-friendly cleaning products nowadays, which can be easily bought from supermarket shelves. You will now see safe and earth-friendly products everywhere.
These companies are on a mission to help save the environment, reduce carbon footprints, eliminate waste hazards, and promote good health for all households. Do your part as a good consumer and avoid toxic cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals. If you don’t start now, then when? If not you, then who?