In 1674, scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe protozoa and later bacteria. His observations became the founding of microbiology and opened doors to a greater understanding of germs, sanitization, and cleaning.
That said, it didn’t take this formal scientific discovery for civilizations stretching back to the Ancient Egyptians to understand the importance of cleaning. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Japanese, and others all discovered how to make and use soap to keep their bodies and their homes clean.
Those early soaps and detergents, as well as antiseptics created during the 19th century, were all sourced, of course, from natural products. But then industrialization and mass production came and as we entered the 21st century, it became readily apparent that those simple cleaning products had been transformed into toxic agents.
Too many of today’s commercial cleaning products include heavy chemicals and bleaching agents that might get users that bright white shine, but also increases one’s risk for toxic exposure. In 2018, over 10% of toxic exposures reported to US Poison Control Centers were from cleaning products.
One of the worst additions certain manufacturers of cleaning products made was the inclusion of fragrances. Fragrances have been added to all sorts of cleaning agents from everyday soap to laundry detergent but according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, one-third of substances companies used to create fragrances are toxic, causing acute issues like headaches, respiratory irritation, watery eyes, and sneezing.
As if that weren’t bad enough, fragrances and cleaning chemicals also cause serious harm to the environment. Common phosphates used in laundry detergents get into the waterways and spawn algae overgrowth which depletes the water’s oxygen and results in a marine life die-off. Meanwhile, aerosols air fresheners and cleaners contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer and local air quality.
So what’s the solution? How about a return to natural, green cleaning products that don’t harm the environment or pose a health risk? The following is a look at some of the greatest natural cleaning brands that are on the market today. These brands are ones that nicely mimic those historic natural solutions but with some modern twists that make them just as effective as chemical-heavy cleaners but without the toxic ingredients. But first, to discuss what makes a natural cleaning product:
What Defines a Good Natural, Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
If you go to the supermarket or farmer’s market, you won’t have to know what products are organic or not as those that are will readily brand themselves as such. The same holds true for natural cleaning products that can be identified by green labels and words like “natural”, “green”, and “eco-friendly.”
But if you’re concerned about whether they’re lying or not, the following are some things to look for when checking their contents:
- Natural cleaning products won’t contain endocrine disrupters like alkylphenol ethoxylated which pollutes water and has an adverse effect on wildlife.
- Natural cleaning products won’t contain volatile organic compounds that contribute to smog formation and poor indoor air quality.
- Natural cleaning products won’t have or will severely limit the amount of phosphorous or nitrogen ingredients in them as these can likewise have adverse effects on water quality.
- Natural cleaning products will typically be packed in recyclable containers or made of packaging comprised of recycled materials that aid in further cutting down on greenhouse emissions.
- Natural cleaning products will be typically comprised primarily of renewable resources and ingredients, such as biobased solvents sourced from pine oils, seeds, vegetables, and citrus fruits.
- Natural cleaning products will typically be designed for use in cold water and will not include instructions that require hot water mixtures to further conserve energy.
Types & Uses of Natural Cleaning Products
Cleaning products as we see it in this article are any products used to clean your home or belongings. The following is a look at some of the most popular types of natural cleaning products and how you might use them:
- Glass cleaner. Clean glass for your windows, clean glass for your cars, clean glass for your mirrors, clean glass wherever you have it! Unfortunately, though, while squeaky clean mirrors and windows have both functional and aesthetic benefits, traditional glass cleaners can be packed with toxic solvents. But green, natural brands of glass cleaners replace those solvents while still ensuring that you can still enjoy that crystal clean sheen.
- Furniture polish. Furniture polish is great for keeping wooden-based furnishings clean and polished. Unfortunately, many of the best brands that offer that clean and fresh look without the grease also contain harmful aerosols. The good news is that natural cleaning product alternatives use simple ingredients that people have been using for centuries to keep wood looking polished but not oily.
- Toilet bowl cleaner. This one is a big one, after all, no one wants to have that dirty ring around their toilet. But as you’d probably guess, toilet bowl cleaners traditionally come packed with a lot of heavy-duty chemicals that enable it to really get that gunk out and gone. Such common and harmful substances include petroleum-derived ingredients, Triclosan, and synthetic dyes — all of which can generate off-gas that pollutes the indoor area and, when flushed, the chemicals themselves are dangerous to the environment.
- Dish soap. Dish soap is a wonderfully useful and versatile cleaning product — it’s also one that’s incredibly easy to manufacture with environmentally-friendly ingredients. Unfortunately, most brands don’t but choosing a natural product will be healthier for your family and the environment.
- Surface wipes. When cold and flu season comes around, surface disinfecting wipes come in high demand as these nifty items are fantastic for stopping the spread of germs while also keeping countertops and other surfaces clean and clear. Simply use surface disinfecting wipes to swipe away dirt, food, and spilled liquids and enjoy their germ-nixing antibacterial properties.
- Multi-surface cleaners. Similar in a lot of ways to dish soaps, multi-surface cleaners can tackle just about any cleaning job. They make it easy for you to cut through the grease and grime and enjoy a cleaner, germ-free surface. However, like dish soaps, some are great for your health and environment, and some can be really, really bad.
The 10 Ten Eco-Friendly Natural Cleaning Products Brands Available on Amazon
1. HAUS Naturals
We love HAUS Naturals products they work extremely well, they’re biodegradable and the scent is fantastic (much better than some chemical smell).
HAUS Naturals is taking the all-natural cleaning product category by storm.
The all-natural cleaning brand currently offers 4 products:
- Stainless steel cleaner
- Granite cleaner and polisher,
- All-purpose cleaner, and
- Streak-free glass cleaner.
Each product is plant-based, cruelty-free, eco-friendly and biodegradable. Most importantly they work very, very well. You also enjoy lovely scents.
Review: Read this Haus Naturals review.
2. Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray, Fresh Citrus & Thyme Scent
Source: Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation is perhaps the best well-known all-natural brands and has earned a fantastic reputation in this market for providing quality and safe cleaning products. They are on a mission to offer products for every area of home cleaning but perhaps their most popular product has been and remains to be their disinfectant sprays and wipes. The above Fresh Citrus & Thyme Scent spray utilizes thyme oil as its primary active ingredient and that ingredient is incredibly effective and fully safe for even flood-prone surfaces.
3. The Honest Company Hypoallergenic Honest Wipe
The Honest Company is perhaps among the most popular of cleaning brands among parents of young kids due to their emphasis on making wipes that are safe for babies. But you don’t have to have a kid to appreciate the safe and gentle ingredients in these wipes that clean your things without messing up the environment.
4. Puracy Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine Detergent, 4x Pet Stain Remover & Deodorizer
This heavy-duty carpet cleaner is a must for those with pets! Puracy is a newer brand that was developed by an MIT chemist specifically to reduce energy waste, water, and plastic. Their products have been a massive success and this carpet cleaner and deodorizer is outstanding for getting rid of those stuck-in smells.
5. Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent, Honeysuckle
Laundry detergent has historically been a hard product to replace with natural ingredients due to it being tricky to get set-in stains out of clothes. But Mrs. Meyer’s get the solution right. This brand’s laundry detergent comes packed in an environmentally-friendly packaging and utilized natural plant-derivative ingredients to nix the stains and dirt on your clothes, sheets, and other items.
6. Earth Friendly Products ECOS Earth Enzymes Drain Maintainer
Earth Friendly Products is one of the oldest natural cleaning brands and it has earned a solid reputation for delivering products that are safe and effective. They also back-up their commitment to the environment by running their own facilities on 100% renewable energy and are water neutral, carbon-neutral, and Zero Waste Platinum-certified.
Their ECOS Earth Enzymes Maintainers is a great example of their effective products and is among the best in the whole of the cleaning industry at breaking up gunk build-up and clearing out nasty drains.
One of the cofounders of Truce developed contact dermatitis after using commonly found chemical cleaners and so was inspired to create something different. She started with homemade recipes than teamed up with a friend who had a Ph.D. in Ecology. Together, the created the cleaning product brand Truce which now boasts an array of products. One of those products is the effective All Purpose Cleaner that with just five simple ingredients is capable of delivering a healthy cleaning spray.
8. Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent
Better Life is interestingly a Shark Tank-approved company in which the confounded garnered attention from the investors by spraying the gel detergent straight into his mouth. While snacking on your dish detergent may not be the best use of your purchase, it is a cool point. This product is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and yet still delivers a spot-free clean on your dishes.
9. Method Daily Granite Cleaner, Apple Orchard
Method is a B Corporation that you are likely to run into your grocery store as well as online. Their products are Cradle-to-Cradle-certified which reflects a high standard for ingredient safety, packaging safety, and holistic environmental health. The Method Granite Cleaner is a great product choice for cleaning and polishing granite, marble, and stone surfaces such as your kitchen countertops.
10. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
Source: Dr. Bronner’s
Dr. Bronner’s is an industry giant that quite possibly was the first-ever all-natural cleaning brand with the company first being founded in 1948 by Emmanual Bronner and before being natural was a big concern. It also remains one of the most trusted and effective all-purpose cleaners on the market as a whole and certainly within the green cleaning industry.
Dr. Bronn’ers has always had a strong core message related to the environment and all of their products have always been socially and environmentally responsibly sourced and manufactured, with much of the company’s profits being dedicated to global efforts. So if you want an all-purpose cleaner that is trusted and sold by a brand that gives back, then look no further than Dr. Broner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner.
11. White House Cleaning Vinegar
One cleaning product that can be hard to get rid of is bleach. Bleach is simply so versatile when it comes to doing things like mopping your tile floors, but bleach is also toxic and produces harmful off-gasses. The good news is that there is a great alternative. Just check out White House Cleaning Vinegar which offers a great clean while also not exposing you or your household to harmful chemicals.