by Ivory King
It used to be a real challenge to find effective cleaning products that were non-toxic or biodegradable. During this dry spell we were forced to make our own cleaning products with household items like white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, salt, and antibacterial essential oils. This worked pretty well in a practical sense, but dear reader you are most likely too busy for all that nonsense. You probably prefer products that are optimized for different needs, and don’t have room for those industrial jugs of vinegar that might be taking up space under the sink!
But it is not as it once was. Now there are so many products it’s difficult to sort through them to find the best. Luckily, many reviewers and listicles came before us, and we can take the most often cited popular products. Every entry in this survey included products from the Method, Better Life, and Puracy lines. Not only are these lines easier on our bodies and homes, they have a robust approach to being earth friendly as well. All of the brands below are biodegradable and not tested on animals, to further sweeten the deal.
Method is a B corporation that uses closed loop recyclable packaging that are made from plant-derived and post-consumer recycled plastic. Cruelty free and biodegradable, the antibacterial toilet cleaner, daily shower cleaner, wood cleaner, and hand soap are top recommended products. You’ve very likely used some of their products already, since their bright design is matched by their sunny scents, and they’re available at national drugstore chains and seemingly everywhere.
Better Life was promoted on Shark Tank, and they have now become so popular that they can be found at Whole Foods and many health food stores. A team of 2 dads collaborated to create plant-derived effective cleaners at solar powered facilities. Big hits include the stainless steel polish, glass cleaner, surface cleaner and all-purpose cleaner. Personal experience can also attest to the effectiveness of their pet cleaner as well.
Ecos may be a product line with a slightly smaller brand awareness, but they make dish soap and a fabric refresher that pops up on (what seems like) everyone’s favorite plant-based cleaner lists. Not only is Eco Breeze a safe alternative to Febreeze, it can be used on more items since you don’t have to worry about your child breathing in phthalates or other icky things.
Besides the usual hazardous substances that seem to permeate conventional personal products, cleaning supplies have particularly toxic ingredients. In the name of disinfection and shiny surfaces, we buy these products thinking we are making our homes safer. Certainly we are keeping down the pathogen population and reducing instances of black mold or mildew, which are extremely unhealthy. But we don’t have to be free of these technically natural toxins by dousing them with unnatural ones.
A common hazardous chemical often found in cleaning supplies is chlorine bleach. We may purchase it a la carte to add to laundry and make our whites whiter, but it’s documented in a Dr. Axe article to be a component in automatic dishwasher detergents, mildew stain removers and bathroom cleaners. I once had a shower cleaner that contained such high levels of bleach I would hold my breath while applying it and then run into the other room, closing the door behind me. While a small amount of chlorine is familiar to us in our drinking water and swimming pools to keep bacteria at harmless levels, household bleach is strong enough to irritate the system and becomes chlorine gas when it is mixed with ammonia, which sometimes happens by mistake. This gas is poisonous, irritating the skin, eyes and breathing pathways and can cause choking - it was actually used as choking agent during World War I.
Another common cleaning chemical is the aforementioned ammonia. It comes with its own alarm system since it gives off an odor so strong it's difficult to breathe when in its presence. Household strength ammonia is diluted to 5-10 percent so that its corrosive effect is reduced, but it’s easily absorbed through the skin or inhalation. While it causes irritation to whatever part of the body it is contact with, higher exposure can lead to skin burns and eye damage.
Even with the natural, eco-friendly products, it’s important to practice due diligence. Keep small children away from them, don’t mix the products and store them properly. Though they may be a little more expensive to buy, they work just as well to clean your home. Added bonus, you don’t have to worry about violating the Geneva Convention by literally conducting chemical warfare on yourself.
Cover image courtesy of http://www.naturallivingideas.com/best-natural-cleaning-products/