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Cleaning the Table

Cleaning Products

Fast Facts

  • Many of the products we use to clean our homes contain chemicals that can be harmful to our health, including solvents, disinfecting agents, surfactants, caustics, chlorine and artificial fragrances.


  • Avoid any cleaning product with a label that includes the words "Danger," Poison" or "Warning."


  • Use ordinary kitchen items to make your own powerful and effective cleaners.

According to the EPA, indoor air quality can be up to 100 times more polluted that outdoor air; and since a typical family spends about 90% of its time indoors, your choice of cleaning products in very important. 

Many of the consumer products we use to clean our homes contain chemicals that can be harmful to our health, including solvents, disinfecting agents, surfactants, caustics, chlorine and artificial fragrances. Many of these chemicals are known to cause eye, skin and throat irritation, and some are linked to more serious chronic respiratory and neurological diseases, and even some cancers. Overuse of disinfectants also contribute to the growing problem of resistant strains of bacteria.

All types of air fresheners and odor eliminators are of special concern since they contain chemicals that are formulated to linger in the air, creating a breathing hazard, especially for those with asthma and other chronic lung diseases. When they eventually settle, they leave a toxic residue on every surface in your house.

When cleaning chemicals go down the drain, they can contaminate our drinking water sources.

Recent studies have shown that when common liquid laundry detergents are discharged into receiving bodies of surface waters, they can interfere with reproductive function in marine life. Bio-based cleaning products, made from botanicals, minerals, forestry and marine extractions, are generally friendlier to us and the environment.

Things you can do:

Avoid products labeled “Danger,” ”Poison,” or “Warning,” and seek out products made from bio-based ingredients. If you must use a strong, chemical product, work outside or in a well-ventilated area.

It is easy to make your own safe cleaners from simple food ingredients. Here are some non-toxic cleaning solutions you can make yourself:


Baking soda – cleans, deodorizes, scours, removes stains
White vinegar – cuts grease, cleans windows, unclogs drains, acts as a mild disinfectant and deodorizer, works as a fabric softener in the wash
Lemon juice – bleaches, deodorizes, cleans
Coarse table salt – removes rust; combined with lemon juice, polishes copper
Olive or walnut oil – polishes furniture, removes non-latex paints and adhesives from hands
Borax (also known as sodium borate) – cleans, bleaches, deodorizes, controls ants and cockroaches
Washing soda – cuts grease, scours, removes stains
Vegetable-based liquid soap (castile soap) – is a general purpose cleaner
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) – is a concentrated natural disinfectant that can be added to liquid hand soap as well as dish and laundry detergents
Hydrogen peroxide – removes stains, can be used as a mild alternative to chlorine bleach
Toothpaste – polishes silver
Hot water – added to baking soda, borax or washing soda makes an effective scrubbing paste and increases efficacy
Microfiber cleaning cloth – enhances the cleaning power of any of the above

Cleaning Products Resources
Related Websites
Products We Like!

BioKleen – Manufactures earth-friendly, safe, non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners for industrial, marine, automotive, janitorial and household purposes.

Blue Land - Blue Land offers effective, non-toxic cleaners in refillable packaging. 

Bon Ami – Earth-friendly company providing biodegradable household cleaners for all surfaces that are free of chlorine, perfumes and dyes.

CleanWell – All natural hand sanitizers and hand wipes made from renewable resources. Contains no alcohol and safe for kids!

Earth Breeze - A laundry sheet that eliminates the plastic jugs of laundry detergent.  It comes unscented, which we recommend because of problems associated with the chemicals used for scented products.

Ecover – An international company active in the production of ecological cleaners, supplying dishwashing, laundry, household and personal care products.

GreenShield Organic - makers of cleaners and detergents with "everything you want, and nothing you don't."

– The first “green” disinfectant, PureGreen24 has the lowest toxi
city rating assigned by the EPA. 

Sea Witch Botanicals - This company offers a dish and surface bar soap for all kitchen needs. After trying many brands, we found this one lasts a long time and is highly effective used with a cloth, a scrubbie, or brush.

Seventh Generation
 – Non-toxic and environmentally safe household products, including cleaning/dish/laundry products, trash bags, diapers and baby wipes and personal hygiene products.

Tru Earth - A laundry sheet, in an unscented version, eliminating plastic and offering an effective alternative to plastic detergent  bottles or “pods” wrapped in plastic.

Universal Stone
 - an organic, non-toxic, low odor, all-purpose cleaner from Germany that cleans, polishes and protects almost every hard finished surface. Amazing!

Related Podcasts from Green Street News

Cleaning Up the World with Kate Jakubas
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