Easy Switches for Chemical-Free Cleaning

News flash: Scrubbing bubbles, chlorine bleach and strong chemicals are out. These days, a sparkling clean, great-smelling home comes courtesy of natural household cleaners that safely, effectively remove dirt and grime. Here’s more about healthy swaps to make in your cleaning cupboard.

Say NO to asthma-inducing spray cleaners.
Many of the all-purpose spray cleaners lining grocery store shelves contain “asthmagens” (i.e. substances that can cause asthma) like ammonia or ethanolamine and have poor safety ratings, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in its Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Say YES to plant-based spray cleaners.
Natural all-purpose spray cleaners made with plant-based surfactants break down dirt and grease safely and are free of petroleum, phosphates and ammonia. Try Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner (in 5 different scents) or The Honest Company Stain Remover that is a powerful, plant-based stain remover designed for sensitive skin.

Say NO to chlorine bleach, ammonia or sodium borate in laundry detergents.
Chlorine and ammonia can cause a host of breathing problems, as well as reproductive system toxicity and skin irritation, according to the EWG. And sodium borate (i.e. borax) is banned in Europe for potential endocrine and reproductive risks.

Say YES to natural enzyme and clay laundry products.
Naturally derived and biodegradable ingredients clean clothes and remove stains effectively without irritating skin or releasing dangerous fumes. Try Grab Green Fragrance Free 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods, which are especially good for those with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies or asthma. To whiten clothes, try Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus, which is highly rated by the EWG for safely brightening clothes with natural clays and non-chlorine whiteners.

Say NO to toxic drain cleaners.
Warning labels on many common drain cleaners and clog removers should be just that—warnings to avoid the chemicals inside, like sodium hydroxide. Severe burns, blindness and dangerous chemical reactions can occur if these products are misused or mishandled.

Say YES to enzymes and helpful bacteria to open drains.
Solid wastes in clogged drains and septic tanks quickly and safely dissolve with natural enzymes and bacterial products. Try non-toxic, non-polluting Earth Friendly Products Earth Enzymes Natural Drain Opener on kitchen sinks, bathroom drains and garbage disposals.

Say NO to phosphate-laden dish detergents.
Although most states ban the use of phosphates in detergents, some companies still manage to add phosphate-laden additives, according to the EWG. Phosphate compounds are harmful to the environment because they wash into waterways and cause extensive algae growth, leading to massive “dead zones” in our waterways.

Say YES to dish detergents with natural minerals and plant enzymes.
Detergents with natural, non-toxic sodium minerals and plant-based enzymes break down dirt and grease and remove dried-on food easily. Try Grab Green Fragrance Free Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods, which are gentle but effective on all household dishes, even baby bottles. Another good choice is Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap in Rosemary, which degreases with soap bark extract and naturally disinfects with rosemary and peppermint leaf oils.

Say NO to air fresheners that just mask odors.
Spray air fresheners cover odors with chemical fragrances that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks, and some contain the suspected endocrine disrupter sodium borate.

Say YES to natural odor absorbers.
Botanical essential oils like lime, pine and tea tree oil neutralize and eliminate odors naturally, even strong pet and mildew smells. Try Fresh Wave Natural Odor Eliminator Crystal Gel or Kanberra Gel Odor Remover and Air Purifier.