Natural Cleaning: How to Minimize Toxins in Household Cleaners

Mother and Young Daughter Cleaning their Home with Green Cleaning Products

Going Green

Using natural, green cleaning products promotes better health and are also a starting point for discussing environmentalism and the impact everyday products create.

One great source is the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which lets you research over 2,500 products to find your greenest choices, decode technical ingredients, manufacturer updates, and more. Looking for green, organic, or environmental friendlier cleaning products is great, but take that one step further: employ a do-it-yourself mentality and make your own household cleaners.

You’ll save money and make a more positive environmental impact. You’ll also improve your health since these products contain fewer toxic chemicals. Plus, green cleaning is more cost-effective. You will save money by using renewable resources.

Ways to Replace Toxic Household Cleaners Using Natural Cleaning Solutions

Everything from the air you breathe to the food you eat to the products you clean your house with can create a toxic overload. But you have more control than you might realize to minimize your toxic load, and optimizing cleaning products is a great place to start. If you’re ready to “green up” your household cleaning products, we have some amazing low-toxic alternatives that are simple, affordable, and will leave your house sparkling.

Natural Alternatives to Bathroom Cleaners

  • Tiles: Steam the bathroom to loosen the dirt. Mix baking soda and lemon juice to form a paste. Rub the paste into the grout using an old toothbrush or your fingers. Leave for a few minutes or longer if they are very dirty, then wipe off with a damp cloth.
  • The toilet: Wipe the outside of the toilet first using a solution of warm water and dishwasher soap. Then clean the lid — don’t forget the inside of the lid. Clean the rim using the same solution. To clean the bowl, use a good quality natural cleaning solution. If the bowl is very stained, take ¼ cup of borax and ⅓  cup of white vinegar. A Journal of Environmental Health study found that vinegar has similar antimicrobial effects as an over-the-counter chemical disinfectant. Pour the mixture of borax and vinegar into the toilet bowl and leave overnight. In the morning, brush and flush.
  • The bath and basin: Clean with bicarbonate of soda and a damp cloth. This will also remove odors so there’s no chemical smell. To make your taps sparkle, clean them with white vinegar, but be sure to rinse them thoroughly with warm water or the vinegar may eat the plating.
  • Showers: Clean the tiles as previously instructed. To clean the grimy film off the door, use white vinegar, rinse, and shine dry.

Natural Alternatives to Kitchen Cleaners

  • Cleaning your oven: Use four teaspoons baking soda and one teaspoon borax. Mix to a paste with a little water. Rub onto the oven, then wipe off with a damp cloth.
  • Microwaves: Place a lemon cut into two inside the microwave. Microwave on high for two minutes. Remove the lemon and wipe away the grease and grime.
  • Drains: Put one tablespoon baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down the drain. Pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. It will bubble and foam and sometimes spit back some dirt and slime. If it is very badly blocked, repeat this a few times.
  • Dishes: Place two teaspoons of white vinegar into your rinse water to sterilize and give sparkle to your dishes.
  • Cutting board: To remove odors from a wooden chopping board, rub with dry mustard powder, then brush off.

Natural Alternatives to Stain Removal

  • Red wine: Cover the spill immediately with salt (plain salt will do) or baking soda. Wash as normal. If the spill is on a carpet, vacuum when the salt is dry.
  • Salad dressing: Apply corn flour or cornstarch to absorb the grease. If an orange spot remains, blot (don’t rub) with white vinegar until the stain disappears. Wash as usual.
  • Chocolate: Soak for 30 minutes in cold water then wash as usual.
  • Curry: Squeeze lemon juice over the stain. Wash as normal.
  • Mud: Allow to dry. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the patch then vacuum.
  • Candle wax: To remove candle wax, place a piece of brown paper over the spilled wax then iron until the paper has absorbed all the wax.
  • Air freshener:  Use two cups cold water, one teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (to neutralize the acid smells), one tablespoon lemon juice (to neutralize the alkaline smells), and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Place all in a spray bottle and spray!

Natural Alternatives for General Cleaning

  • Windows: Take a bucket of warm water. Add one part white vinegar to four parts water. Clean windows with a sponge. Buff with newspaper. Alternately,mix water and corn flour to a milky consistency. Use a cloth to clean and shine. You can also mix a quarter cup of white vinegar into a bucket of warm water. Wash windows with a soft cloth. Buff to a shine.
  • General cleaner: Mix one cup white vinegar and cup water in a spray bottle. Spray and wipe. The odor will evaporate when it is dry. To remove stubborn marks, warm the mixture first. White vinegar can kill up to 92 percent of bacteria.


Making these simple changes in the way you clean will dramatically minimize your daily toxin exposure. Ultimately, you have a say in purchasing household cleaners.

These and other homemade alternatives to potentially toxic household cleaning products can minimize your toxic load while saving you money and potentially your health.

Manufacturers spend big money to make cleaning products look “green,” organic, environmentally friendly, or otherwise safe when they actually contain potentially harmful chemical ingredients. Just like with food, don’t go by what the front label says; flip the product around and read its ingredients.