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- Traditional household cleaners contain chemicals that can be harmful to both our health and the environment.
- The brands below make safe and effective cleaners with plant-based and biodegradable ingredients.
- While these products are effective for cleaning, the CDC recommend using alcohol-based products for killing viruses.
On my list of satisfying and cathartic things to do on a weekend, a deep house cleaning session has to be near the top. But the fact that they often end with itchy, watery eyes, or irritated skin dampens the excitement of having sparkly clean countertops, appliances, and floors.
Just like with skincare and food, we're starting to take a closer look at the ingredient labels of the products we use in everyday life. Traditional cleaning products from big-name brands usually contain harsh, harmful chemicals that get the job done but sacrifice our health in the process.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these are common but problematic ingredients you should look out for and avoid while shopping for cleaning products:
- Formaldehyde (respiratory irritant, carcinogen)
- Sodium hypochlorite (respiratory irritant)
- Ammonium hydroxide (respiratory irritant)
- Borax and boric acid (possible reproductive or developmental irritant)
The following natural cleaning companies, however, prove that you can use safer ingredients and still clean your house. That being said, "natural" can be defined a myriad of ways and there's no one definition for the broad term. The general consensus among most brands is that natural formulas throw out chemicals and synthetic fragrances in favor of plant-based and biodegradable ingredients that are better for both your body and the earth.
That's why we've listed out ingredients that aren't found in the brands or products to help you can find the one that fits your lifestyle. We've also listed out the brands that don't use alcohol, in case that's an ingredient you're looking for or avoiding. While these products are effective for general cleaning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using alcohol-based products to disinfect surfaces as they're effective in killing viruses.
With socially and environmentally conscious missions guiding their products, some brands also give back to those in need and use sustainable packaging. None of them test on animals, either. All in all, they're a better choice if you want to clean your house with a cleaner conscience, and most cost only a little more if not the same as traditional brands.
Here are 11 natural cleaning brands that don't use harsh chemicals
Shop Seventh Generation here: Amazon, Target, Boxed, Thrive Market
This certified B Corp is on a mission to make every part of your home more "clean" by making safer and sustainable laundry, dishwashing, cleaning, feminine care, and paper products. The active ingredient in Seventh Generation's popular disinfectant wipes and sprays, for example, is thyme oil. Its cleaning solutions are all affordable and available at many online stores, so you don't have much of an excuse not to go plant-based.
Products are free from: Phosphates, synthetic surfectants, synthetic solvents, VOCsGreen Works
Shop Green Works here: Amazon, Office Depot
Shoppers love the All-Purpose Multi-Surface Cleaning Spray from Green Works, which is Clorox's line of natural cleaning products. (Fun fact: Green Works' founder, a Clorox scientist, was inspired by her environmental biologist daughter to develop the line.)
All Green Works cleaners are 95% to 99% naturally derived, meaning they're mostly made from ingredients like plant-based cleaning agents, essential oils, corn-based ethanol, and wood-based fibers. The remaining 5% to 1% is a combination of preservatives, fragrances, and dyes, which is low compared to the rest of the formula but still something to keep in mind.
Products are free from: Parabens, phosphates, formaldehyde, sulfatesThe Honest Company
Shop The Honest Company here: Amazon, Target, The Honest Company
Jessica Alba's The Honest Company is a favorite among parents because of its special emphasis on caring for babies in safe, natural ways. In addition to baby and beauty products (try its fragrance-free Baby Wipes or relaxing Bubble Bath), you can shop powerful cleaners made from gentle ingredients, including essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances. You won't need to be nervous using these household cleaners around your baby.
Products are free from: Synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, parabens, dyes, sulfates, methylisothiazolinonePuracy
From Carpet Cleaner to All-Purpose Cleaner, every one of the natural cleaning products from this brand is a top-rated hit. Puracy's super-concentrated formulas, developed by a chemist from MIT, claim to reduce plastic, water, and energy waste by more than 75%. For every sale, it donates natural and organic products to families and children in need.
Products are free from: Sulfates, formaldehyde, parabens, phosphates, bleach, chlorineBranch Basics
Rather than sell you cleaning products that are half water, Branch Basics gives you the multi-purpose concentrated cleaner and the empty, reusable, and refillable bottles to "make" your own safe and natural cleaners at home. Depending on the type of surface you intend to clean, you add a different amount of water and concentrate, so you waste less money and resources buying one-use plastic bottles.
Products are free from: Methylisothiazolinone, VOCs, parabens, synthetic fragrances, synthetic preservativesMrs. Meyer's
Shop Mrs. Meyers cleaning products here: Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Boxed, Thrive Market
The brand behind these brightly colored cleaners is known for its refreshing fragrances like Rose, Peony, Lilac, and Mint. Mrs. Meyers is committed to using plant-based ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils like geranium and ylang ylang. It also supports sustainable palm oil practices in Asia, Africa, and South America, and all the bottles use at least 25% recycled plastic.
Products are free from: Formaldehyde, synthetic surfectants, ammonia, parabens, phosphates, chlorineEcos
Shop Ecos cleaning products here: Amazon, Home Depot, Thrive Market
For more than 50 years, parent company Earth Friendly Products has been making affordable and environmentally safe cleaning solutions like this Shower Cleaner and this Drain Maintainer. At the same time, it's helping you treat your body and the environment better, it's also doing its part: Its facilities run on 100% renewable energy, and are carbon neutral, water neutral, and Zero Waste Platinum-certified.
Products are free from: Synthetic surfectants, parabens, phthalates, formaldehydeTruce
Shop Truce cleaning products here: Amazon, Thrive Market
After developing contact dermatitis from using chemical cleaners, the cofounder began making her own recipes and teamed up with a friend who has a PhD in ecology and understood the links among the environment, chemicals, and chronic illnesses) to start Truce. Truce's All-Purpose Cleaner contains just five simple ingredients: water, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, organic castile soap, and essential oils.
Products are free from: Formaldehyde, bleach, ammonia, parabens, phthalates, sulfatesBetter Life
Shop Better Life cleaning products here: Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Thrive Market
For a "Better Life" free of warning labels and harmful chemicals, shop this Shark Tank-approved company. Its products are so safe that you can spray them in your mouth — which is exactly what its cofounder did during his pitch in front of the sharks.
They're free from dyes, alcohol, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, and petroleum-based cleaning agents. Scents like Tea Tree & Eucalyptus will make you attracted to Tub and Tile Cleaners in a way you've never been before.
Products are free from: Synthetic fragrance, sulfates, alcohol, dyesMethod
Method is another B Corp that you've probably seen in stores and is one of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. It makes all types of natural cleaners, including ones for hard floors, granite, and hardwood. Method is Cradle to Cradle-certified, meaning it meets high standards for ingredient safety and environmental health, as well as packaging safety.
Products are free from: Ammonia, formaldehyde, bleach, phosphates, phthalatesCaldrea
Shop Caldrea cleaning products here: Amazon
Caldrea makes home and cleaning products that match the sophistication of your home. Its Countertop Surface Cleaner, featuring a Rosewater Driftwood scent reminiscent of the beach, uses a special vegetable protein extract to help remove odors. Thanks to its luxurious fragrances, your house won't only be sparkling clean, but it'll also smell amazing.
Products are free from: Parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine bleach, phosphates