Traditional or Natural? Breaking Down the Best Natural Cleaning Products

Traditional or Natural? Breaking Down the Best Natural Cleaning Products

Use Non-Toxic Cleaners, Change Your Life

More than ever before, we’ve got cleaning on the mind. 

We’re sanitizing, scrubbing, and disinfecting like never did before. But getting a good clean - even mid-pandemic - doesn’t mean you need to use toxic, dangerous cleaners. 

Natural cleaning products are just as effective, if not more, than their traditional counterparts. 

Here’s everything you need to find the best natural cleaning products that give a “really good clean,” without the chemicals. 

What is a Natural Cleaning Product?

Let’s get one thing straight: just because a company slaps the word “natural” on a bottle of bathroom cleaner, it doesn’t make it natural*.

Words like “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “eco-friendly” don’t tell you anything about how a product is formulated, and their use isn’t regulated by the government. That doesn’t mean a product with an “eco-friendly” label on it isn’t eco-friendly; it just means that it’s not a guarantee.

So how do you figure out if a cleaner is really “natural”?

Read the label. 

Just like with foods, follow the ingredient rule. If there’s an ingredient whose name you can’t pronounce, that you don’t recognize, or with a number in it (looking at you, Red Dye 6), the product isn’t natural.

*For the purposes of this article, we’re going to refer to products that meet the “ingredient rule” as natural cleaning products.



Natural vs. Traditional Cleaning Products

Despite rampant “greenwashing” in the cleaning industry, there is a difference between how traditional and natural cleaning products are formulated. 

Traditional cleaners use synthetic chemicals, often with added fragrance, that mimic cleaning effects without actually cleaning anything.

For example, many traditional cleaning products are made with chemicals that create extra bubbles, so you’ll think they’re working. But in reality, more bubbles doesn’t equal more clean (or any level of clean, really).

Natural products intentionally avoid extra chemicals that carry fragrances or produce fake cleaning effects. They avoid things like triclosan, phthalates, ammonia, bleach, and chlorine. 

Natural cleaners are safer for small children, pets, and people with respiratory problems or allergies.

Natural Cleaning Products Best Benefits

A lot of the chemicals found in traditional cleaning products have proven biological effects on our bodies. They can lead to hormone, endocrine, and immune system problems or even predispose you to cancer. 

Natural cleaning products don’t run the same risk. They’re safer for you, your little ones, and the planet. 

But the most significant benefit of using natural cleaning products - especially during the COVID-19 pandemic - is that they don’t lead to respiratory problems. 

A study from the American Journal of Respiratory Medicine found that prolonged use of traditional cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. 

The toxic chemicals found in traditional cleaners build up in our homes over time, creating an unhealthy indoor air environment, which is the last thing any of us need right now.

Switching to natural products won’t solve the problem overnight, but over time, continued use will “detoxify” your home and lead to a safer space for you and your loved ones.

Do Natural Cleaning Products Kill Viruses and Germs?

In a word, yes. But it’s complicated.

Natural cleaning products can both clean and disinfect surfaces, as long as you’re using them correctly.

What’s the difference? 

Cleaners remove dirt and grease from a surface, disinfectants kill germs and viruses. These days, a lot of cleaners do both. 

The question of whether or not cleaners - natural or traditional - can kill COVID-19 is still up in the air. We still know relatively little about how this virus works, and the EPA is still working to figure out which products can kill COVID-19.

The key is scrubbing

According to scientists, COVID-19 is a relatively weak virus. Scrubbing hard with soap and water has been proven to disrupt the virus, regardless of the type of soap or cleaner you’re using. 

What to Look For in a Natural Cleaning Product

Given all the greenwashing and the fact that cleaning companies aren’t legally required to disclose their ingredients on the label, it can be tricky to find a truly natural cleaning product.

Here are three easy guidelines to help you determine if a cleaner is natural.

  • Check for an ingredients page on their website. 
  • Most natural cleaning brands do list their ingredients. Not only that, but they also disclose why they included the ingredients they did.
  • Avoid cleaners packaged in plastic bottles. 
  • If a company uses a plastic bottle in 2020, chances are they aren’t being careful about what goes into that bottle.
  • Read reviews!
  • What does the EWG say about the product? What are other customer’s experiences with the product? If someone says that a cleaner has a strong chemical smell, chances are it’s because a strong chemical is in the product.