A few years ago, I began to think more about the cleaning products I used. When I was a teenager, my dad bought Tilex for me to use on the shower walls and I remember it burning my lungs and making me feel light-headed. More recently, I used a Magic Eraser to clean the bathtub a couple of years ago and wound up with bright red blisters/chemical burns on my hands and arms. I immediately got online to find out whether I was going to have to get my arm amputated and I started reading about all the toxic ingredients in cleaning products.
Literally hundreds of thousands of calls are made to the Poison Control Center every year as a result of the harmful effects of cleaning products. Around 50% of those calls are made by frantic parents because their child has spilled household cleaners onto their skin or swallowed cleaning products. Corrosive cleaners like oven and drain cleaners can cause severe burns. Mix certain cleaning chemicals together (ammonia + chlorine) and you’ve got toxic gas. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, one out of every three substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Some cleaners contain ingredients you can hardly pronounce like diethanolamine and triethanolamine, which are carcinogenic, and some of these chemicals even affect our hormones!
A lot of popular brands out there are also tested on animals. This doesn’t mean they’re shampooing rabbits with Pantene to see how soft it makes their hair. It means they’re conducting painful experiments on them, forcing animals to ingest or inhale ridiculously concentrated chemicals or applying burning chemicals to their skin and eyes, resulting in blindness, seizures, tumors, and eventually (after all the torture), death. Animal testing is senseless and barbaric. Animals react to drugs differently than we do and the experiments they are tortured with often don’t even apply to us! A lot of the results of animal testing are inconclusive and unreliable. Sometimes the way an animal reacts is just the opposite of the way a human will react to a chemical or drug.
But I’ll save vivisection for another time, so let’s just say that I wanted to stop using products with dangerous chemicals and products that were tested on animals.
There are a lot of “green” products out there, but how do you know which ones work and are worth the money? Can a plant-based cleaning product disinfect your bathroom and kitchen? Will they remove stains? Will they kill viruses?
Never fear because I’ve come to help you out! Yes, plant-based cleaners can disinfect and kill germs and yes, there are Earth friendly products out there that work! Have I tried them all? Nope. But I’ve tried enough to help you get started. Here are some of my favs for the most common cleaning categories:
Mrs Meyer’s – Best All-Purpose Cleaner
For everyday cleaning of mirrors, windows, sinks, and counter tops, I use Mrs. Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner. I bought a big bottle about a year ago and it’s super concentrated, so I just mix a few tablespoons in with 32 oz of water in a squirt bottle. One bottle will last forever! I like the lavender scent, but there is also lemon verbena, basil, rosemary, geranium, and bluebell. Check out all the cleaning products by this brand at www.mrsmeyers.com. I have also tried the hand soap, automatic dish soap, dish soap before. They all work great!
Seventh Generation – Best Disinfecting Cleaner (wipes or spray)
Plain white vinegar will kill germs, mold, and viruses, but I prefer my house not to smell like vinegar! The Seventh Generation brand’s entire line of products is great and they all work really well. The disinfecting cleaner kills 99.99% of germs and viruses including Staph, the common cold, the flu, and E-coli. The only scent they have so far is Lemongrass Citrus, which has a herbal note to it as well.
Martha Stewart Clean – Best Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
I’ve used both the powdered auto dish detergent by Seventh Generation (which left a grainy residue) and the liquid by Mrs Meyer’s (which isn’t good at removing coffee/tea/cocoa stains). Maybe my dishwasher just sucks, but Martha Stewart Clean works better for me. My dishes come out clean and free of streaks and water spots. It’s over 99% plant and mineral based, and like all product I’m mentioning here, does not contain any animal by-products and is not test on animals. I don’t think this has a scent, which doesn’t bother me, but if you want a scent, I recommend Mrs Meyer’s. If you prefer a powder, I recommend the Ecover brand.
Seventh Generation – Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner
If you don’t mind your toilet smelling like a pine forest, then I highly recommend this product! It removes stains, mold, and calcium build-up easily with very little scrubbing effort on your part. The smell isn’t overpowering, so it doesn’t bother me. It smells much better than bleach! If you don’t like the smell, try the Ecover brand, but I found that the bowl doesn’t stay clean as long with Ecover.
Earthworm – Best Drain/Disposal Cleaner
Earthworm breaks down food, grease, and odors in my garbage disposal really well. A while back, we had this horrible smell coming from the disposal every time we ran the dishwasher and a few rounds of Earthworm cleared it right up. I use it regularly to keep my bathroom sink and tub drains clear. My cats often get in to the tub to drink the leftover water after my shower and so it was really important to me that this product is safe to use around pets (and kids!) Their website says it only leaves behind water and harmless nutrients. The smell is really great too!
Baking Soda + Dish Liquid – Best Tub/Tile Cleaner
Mix equal parts baking soda and dish liquid (I recommend the Seventh Generation brand, once again) in a small bowl until you have an icing-like consistency. Dip in a sponge and use this to scrub your tub, tile, kitchen sink, and stainless steel faucets.