Most cleaning products are crammed with a laundry list of toxic chemicals, from hormone-disrupting parabens and phthalates to irritating phenols and artificial fragrances. Anyone who uses them regularly—whether you're a professional cleaner or just cleaning your own home—has a higher risk of asthma and other respiratory issues,1 heart problems2 and breast cancer,3 studies suggest.
But you don't need to use harsh chemicals to clean your home. There are now plenty of companies making effective 100 percent natural formulas that won't harm your health (or the environment), and even products like E-cloths that claim to work with just water and a bit of elbow grease—no chemicals required. Here are our top six picks.
Hit the floor
Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner,
$7.99 (32 fl oz/946 mL)
www.auntfannies.com; tel: 888-316-4182
Suitable for ceramic tiles, laminate and even wood floors, this plant-based cleaner packs commercial-grade cleaning power using a sugar-based surfactant (myristyl glucoside), antibacterial eucalyptus, mint and orange oils, and vinegar, a powerful natural cleaning agent. The subtle fragrance is from natural essential oils, and like all Aunt Fannie's products, the floor cleaner holds an 'A' rating from the Environmental Working Group.
Simple Truth Organic
Bergamot Mint Toilet Cleaner, $3.49 (24 fl oz/709 mL)
www.vitacost.com; tel: 800-381-0759
Not only will this nontoxic toilet cleaner effectively remove stains and mineral deposits, thanks to its powerful combination of vinegar, citric acid and organic glycerol, but it will leave your bathroom smelling wonderful, thanks to its unique blend of organic mint and bergamot oils. The product is certified organic, non-GMO and cruelty-free.
Get the bug
BioPure Probiotic Household Cleaner, $17.95 (4.2 fl oz/125 mL)
www.miessence.com; tel: 612-284-3970
This certified organic, multipurpose cleaner contains friendly Lactobacillus bacteria to keep the bad bugs on floors, worktops, toilets and other surfaces at bay. Used regularly, it's claimed to prevent the re-emergence of pathogenic bacteria. Other ingredients include sea salt, organic sugarcane molasses and organic rice bran extract. Use it diluted in water.
Bathroom Pack, $14.99 (two cloths)
www.ecloth.com; tel: 800-677-4354
E-cloth products use microfiber technology to allow you to clean almost every surface in your home with nothing more than water. No chemicals or even natural cleaning agents are needed—you just use a few sprays of water, and the special fibers in the cloth will remove grease, grime and even 99 percent of bacteria when you wipe or scrub with them. There's a huge range of E-cloths available, including this Bathroom Pack consisting of a thick cloth for cleaning and a thinner cloth for polishing.
Window Cleaner, $4.49 (22 oz/650 ml)
www.ecos.com; tel: 800-335-ECOS
This non-streaking window cleaner is made from just four ingredients: purified water, corn-derived ethanol, vinegar and a coconut-derived surfactant. There's no added fragrance, so the product is ideal for those with allergies, and the contents are 100 percent biodegradable. Use it for spotless windows, mirrors and other glass.
Toy & Surface Cleaner, $9.95 (16 fl oz/ 475 mL)
www.attitudeliving.com; tel: 514-509-7225
Committed to using only worry-free ingredients, Canadian company Attitude has a solution to the problem of how to keep babies' toys clean without harmful chemicals. This product uses a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic formula made from fatty alcohols and sodium bicarbonate that won't put babies at risk. You can also use it on other surfaces around the home.