The Importance of Using Natural Cleaning Products

Reader Contribution by Devin Morrissey
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Corporations have spent millions of dollars and many years of research to provide consumers with products that effectively create sterile environments. Although effective, are they truly to our benefit? Sure, window cleaners that remove grime and don’t leave streaks are helpful, but are they safe?

If you were left alone in a small room with no ventilation with window cleaner rich in ammonia, it would literally burn holes in your lungs over time. Research has found the chemicals present in popular cleaning products have the ability to cause headaches, disrupt our endocrine system and possess carcinogenic properties that can lead to cancer. It is becoming increasingly clear that using natural cleaning products is the only sure way to avoid these health issues occurring within your own home.

Photo by eskay lim/

Danger to Children and Pets

Large cleaning supply companies have also learned how to best market to consumers using certain colors and fonts in their labeling, designing appealing packaging and using variously shaped bottles. This can be dangerous in our homes when our children or pets find them to also be appealing and misuse them.

According to a study published by the journal “Pediatrics,” more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 were seriously ill after ingesting colorful laundry pods between 2012 and 2013. Ingesting things like laundry pods can result in infant or animal fatalities that could have been prevented by only using natural cleaning products. If you do use harsh chemicals in your cleaning products, be sure to store them away in a cabinet not easily accessed by children or curious animals.

In further consideration of children, when you use harsh chemicals to clean your home, they are emitted into the air your children breathe. They are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can cause respiratory issues to those who inhale them, including you. When you use aerosols and conventional cleaning products you are polluting the air within your home. Hopefully, as cleaning companies continue to evolve, VOCs will be eliminated, but for now, are something we all need to be aware of.

The Future of Cleaning Products

The Food and Drug Administration just came out with reports about how the overuse of antibacterial soaps make us less resilient to bacteria as the bacteria become more resistant over time. It’s similar to the overuse of antibiotics and the generation of superbugs as bacteria evolve to outlive the prescriptions that were once effective.

Implementing the use of natural cleaning products in your home helps to reduce the growth of superbugs and protects your personal health as well. Be sure to be an educated consumer and not fall for products that greenwash their marketing in an attempt to appear more eco-friendly than they are.

Read the ingredients and be sure to watch out for the following chemicals:

  • Butyl cellosolve — Suspected carcinogen
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate — Endocrine disruptor
  • Chlorinated phenols or chlorophenols — Toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems and suspected carcinogen
  • Glycol ethers (including diethylene glycol and 2-butoxyethanol) — Negatively affects liver and kidneys
  • Formaldehyde — Irritates the respiratory system and suspected carcinogen
  • Benzene — Causes damage to the nervous system and linked to leukemia
  • Butane — Toxic to the brain and nervous system

Although products may advertise “all natural” or “eco-this or that,” they often still include one of the chemicals listed above, just in smaller amounts. There is nothing that legally prevents a company from using creative marketing techniques to disguise themselves as something other than what they truly are.

Implement Natural Options

When in doubt, making your own homemade cleaning products will ensure you know exactly what is in the product you are using. It also empowers you to make sound decisions for you and your household by thinking twice before spraying down your kitchen counters with just any cleaning solution.

Creating a natural cleaning supply list is inexpensive and simple to do, once you have the materials. Purchase or repurpose a few spray bottles and clearly label them for their intended product. This ensures you don’t have to whip up a new batch of cleanser every time there is a spill in the kitchen.  

Some items to always keep on hand for cleaning purposes are:

  • Fresh lemons — natural disinfectant and deodorizer
  • White vinegar — natural disinfectant
  • Salt — natural abrasive
  • Baking soda — natural abrasive and deodorizer
  • Olive oil — natural polishing agent and adhesive remover
  • Castile soap or an all-natural liquid soap — natural degreaser
  • Essential oils — natural scents

You can even make your own cleaning materials, such as pre-moistened dust cloths. Returning to the ways our grandmothers used to keep a household clean is a mantra to keep in mind. Generations before us found ways to manage their households with simple, natural products, and we can work to do the same for our homes and families, now.