The Dirty Side of Cleaning Products + My 3 Must-Have Nontoxic Swaps!

When you think of household cleaning products, do you think of something that is making your home safer for yourself and your family? I guarantee that most people would answer ‘yes.’ Would your opinion change if I told you that there is no federal regulation on the ingredients used in these types of products? I’m talking all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaners, glass and mirror cleaners, floor cleaners…the list goes on. None of these products or the chemicals that they are comprised of are tested for human safety. It is not required. Luckily, you don’t need to risk your health for a clean home! I’m covering my favorite nontoxic cleaning solutions and why you should switch to them too below!

As a society, we’ve been educated about the potential harm of things in our homes like bacteria and germs, but not the products we are using to combat them. Naturally, we fear what advertisements are teaching us to fear and we don’t really consider the rest. This is where the importance of being an educated consumer comes in; we are not always told the whole story! Studies support that the chemical exposure we are subject to from the regular use of household cleaning products is a health risk we all need to be aware of. Why? Because many common ingredients in household cleaners contain chemicals that are linked to things like…

  • Cancer
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Reproductive Damage in both sexes
  • Birth Defects and Developmental Delays
  • Hormone Disruptions
  • Immune System Suppression
  • Respiratory System Damage and Irritation
  • Skin Irritation and Allergic Reactions

When we are exposed to chemicals like these on a regular basis we increase what is called our toxic burden, or body burden. This phrase refers to the toxins that accumulate in our tissue over time and contribute to the development of disease. Of course, nearly everything that we come into contact with in our modern world can expose us to harmful chemicals, but we can control many incidents of exposure. I prioritize clean eating, nontoxic cosmetic use, and choosing safer household products for this exact reason. We may not be able to control what we are exposed to in the environment, say if you live in a large city, but we can control what we deliberately expose ourselves to.

If you’re still scratching your head about what body burden means, here’s some information that I find to be particularly motivating…

In the early 2000s, a study was conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine with a goal of determining the number of chemicals and volatile organic compounds that can be found stored in the average person’s body. Each participant was subject to urine and blood testing to asses the presence of these chemicals in their systems. The introduction to the findings states:

None of the nine volunteers work with chemicals on the job. All lead healthy lives. Yet the subjects contained an average of 91 compounds – most of which did not exist 75 years ago.

Multiple chemicals that were found in the bodies of these 9 individuals were actively banned for use at the time of the study. Of the 210 chemicals assessed, 167 were found in the bodies of the participants. 112 were scientifically recognized as being capable of causing harm to every organ in the human body.

In total, the nine subjects carried:

76 chemicals linked to cancer in humans or animals (average of 53),

94 chemicals that are toxic to the brain and nervous system (average of 62),

86 chemicals that interfere with the hormone system (average of 58),

79 chemicals associated with birth defects or abnormal development (average of 55),

77 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system (average of 55), and

77 chemicals toxic to the immune system (average of 53)

I don’t know about you, but the findings of studies like these (the CDC also did a series of similar testing) are more than enough to inspire me to clean up the products I’m using in my everyday life!

My 3 Must-Have, Nontoxic Cleaning Products

I used to be someone with an entire cabinet full of toxic cleaning products. Now, I’ve cleaned up (and majorly simplified) my routine! Below are my 3 must-have, nontoxic cleaning products.

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap
My use: Dish Soap, Floor Cleaning, Hand Soap

If you follow other green living bloggers you’ve likely seen the name Dr. Bronner’s before. I’m definitely a fan of their products too because their Pure Castile Soaps can be used for practically anything. You can clean your dishes, your clothes, your floors, your pets, and odieokk7efjg0kvolo4meven yourself with this natural multi-tasker! At $10.99 for a 16oz bottle, this product is a very economical option. The formula is incredibly concentrated too; a few drops on a sponge is enough to do a load of dishes, for example.

Currently, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap is offered in 8 scents, including an unscented option. My personal favorites are Almond and Rose!

These soaps get my seal of approval by being certified fair trade, cruelty free and vegan, non-GMO verified, and Oregon Tilth certified organic.

As stated on their website, ingredients for the unscented version are:
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.

Root Pretty Surface Cleaner
My Use: Everyday Household Cleaning

This is my everyday favorite for spills and general cleaning! I use this on things like my kitchen counters, appliances, bathroom, and any other water-safe surfaces (like my dining table and other furniture.) This formula works like a charm and leaves my apartment smelling amazing. It’s a myth that products that rely on natural ingredients cannot cleancleaner1 and disinfect your home effectively; ingredients like Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Clove Essential Oil are all natural antibacterial agents. Root’s Pretty Surface Cleaner is formulated with all of those as well as other high performing natural and organic ingredients.

The full ingredient list is:
Purified Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Natural Rosemary Extract, Organic Aloe Vera, Clove Leaf Essential Oil, Lemon Essential Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil, Lemon Peel Essential Oil, Lime Essential Oil, Litsea Fruit Essential Oil, Mandarin Essential Oil & Sweet Orange Peel Oil

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
My Use: Deep Cleaning

I first discovered this healthier powder cleanser in a studio art course and boy, am I glad I did! Due to chemical exposure guidelines on my campus, we’re limited to what we can use in the classroom. Once I saw how effortlessly Bon Ami broke through the tough grime of oil based inks and other art-room messes, I bought a can for my apartment asap. To be very clear, I’m referring to the powder cleanser, not the entire line of products by Bon Ami! While the Powder Cleanser scores an A from the EWG (indicating that a product contains few/no known or suspected hazards to health or the environment and has good ingredient disclosure,) their liquid and spray products score between a D and F.

bapc_14oz_21ozThis formula is in the form of a lightly abrasive powder that, when introduced to water, turns into a paste. I use it to clean things like my ceramic cooktop, sinks, toilet, and bathtub/shower. Typically I will wet the area I’m about to clean first, sprinkle some Bon Ami Powder Cleanser over top, and use a rag or sponge to scrub the surface using a circular, buffing motion. Afterward, I thoroughly wash the surface off with water and dry. Even considering the ideal EWG score for this product, I do always use caution to not carelessly disperse product into the air whenever I’m using anything in powder form so as to not inhale particles or get any in my eyes.

Natural ingredients like Limestone and Feldspar offer soft abrasion to cut through tough messes and grime. As stated online, their full ingredients are:
Limestone (Calcium Carbonate), Feldspar, Alkyl Polyglucoside (Biodegradable Cleaning Agent), Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate), Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), renewable corn, coconut, and palm oils.

Hopefully this inspires you to toss your conventional cleaning products! If you try any of my favorites I’d love to hear what you think of them!


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