Insider Secrets to Help You Choose Safe Cleaning Products for Home

Insider Secrets to Help You Choose Safe Cleaning Products for Home

How to Find the Right Cleaners For Your Lifestyle

We all know we need to be smarter about choosing our cleaning products.

We know many cleaners contain toxic chemicals that may “clean” but are harmful to your family’s health. We know that toxic chemicals found in household cleaners leave dangerous residue behind, especially in high touch areas like our kitchens and bathrooms. We know the cleaners we use contribute to plastic and air pollution, or worse.

We know we need to choose safer products, but we have no idea how to do it. 

And it’s not our fault. 

As of writing this, necessary household upkeep doesn’t rank as high on the Department of Education’s curriculum as the Cotton Eyed Joe.

That’s why we put together this guide to choosing safe cleaning products for the home.

It’s not a test; no one’s going to check your cupboard and see if you followed up. It’s just a guide to help you educate yourself and get started on the path to a truly clean home.

#1 Read the Ingredient Label

You, the consumer: Why? The government wouldn’t let my grocery store sell me something that isn’t safe to clean with!

Us, the cleaning company: 

It’s a long, boring legal story, but basically, cleaning companies aren’t required to put all - or even any - of the ingredients they use on the label.

You, the consumer: That’s insane!
Us, the cleaning company: Yep.

Transparency is a huge product safety issue. If you pick up a bathroom cleaner bottle and it doesn’t have a thorough list of ingredients on the label, put it back on the shelf. 

It’s possible a cleaning product that doesn’t disclose their ingredients is safe to use. But if a cleaner isn’t disclosing its ingredient list, you have no way of knowing for sure.

Why risk it?



#2 Know Which Ingredients to Watch Out For

So you found a bottle of dish soap with a full ingredients what?

There are dozens of dangerous chemicals in the cleaning aisle, and it can be overwhelming to memorize and avoid them all. 

That’s why we put together a list of the seven most dangerous chemicals in basic household cleaning supplies. Memorize these and avoid them at all costs.

Another basic rule of thumb: if a cleaner has more than ten ingredients on the label, don’t buy it.

  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde is used in heavy-duty bathroom and mold cleaners. It’s been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and nervous system damage.
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC)
  • PERC is most often found in laundry detergent and stain removers. It’s a carcinogen that can affect allergies, asthma, and our nervous system.
  • Ammonia
  • Ammonia is used in polishers, glass cleaners, and brighteners for its streak-free shine. But ammonia is a skin irritant, and it can exacerbate breathing problems.
  • 2-Butoxyethanol
  • 2-Butoxyethanol is a common ingredient in window sprays and multi-purpose cleaners, beloved for its sweet floral scent. Prolonged exposure can cause kidney and liver damage, as well as narcosis and pulmonary edema.
  • Chlorine
  • Chlorine is found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, and laundry whiteners. Repeated use can irritate the skin, causing chronic dryness similar to eczema.
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Sodium hydroxide is found in heavy-duty cleaners like clog removers, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners. Even mild contact can cause skin and eye irritation or a burning sensation in your throat.
  • Phthalates
  • Phthalates are found in synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances are both dangerous to the environment and a common allergen.

    #3 Be Smarter Than “Green” Keywords (Look, Ma! The Label Says it’s “Eco-Friendly”!)

    If you guessed that the government who let cleaning companies sell products without listing their ingredients would also allow companies to use green marketing language willy-nilly, you guessed right!

    There’s little to no regulation requiring manufacturers to back up the green marketing claims on their labels. That means when you see the words “non-toxic,” “natural,” “green,” or “eco-friendly,” it doesn’t mean the product is any of those things. 

    Use the ingredient label as your guide to figure out if a cleaner is safe to use.

    #4 Listen When Products Tell You They’re Dangerous

    “When someone tells you who they are, listen to them the first time.”

    • Maya Angelou

    Maya may as well have been talking about hand soap here.

    Products tell you right on their label if they’re dangerous. Just think about how many times you’ve seen terms like Warning, Poison, Caution, Irritant, Corrosive, or Danger on a bottle of cleaner.

    Use your brain. 

    If a cleaner tells you they’re not safe to use, don’t use them.