Best Natural Alternatives to Toxic Cleaners and Disinfectants


Author – Juan Padilla

A spotless home is essential for safeguarding your well-being. However, common household cleaning products such as toilet cleaners, disinfectant sprays and polishes often contain chemicals that are harmful to both human health and the environment. Chronic exposure to these toxins can cause a variety of health issues, from eye irritation to cancer.

Fortunately, you can avoid these hazards by choosing healthier substitutes. Keep reading further for a list of natural alternatives for toxic cleaners and disinfectants that we use every day at home and are just as effective.

Top 10 Cleaning Toxins And Their Natural Alternatives


Ammonia is commonly used in glass cleaners and polishes for its streak-free finish. However, its toxicity makes it a poor choice for home cleaning. Ammonia fumes may cause irritation of the skin and eyes, as well as breathing problems, especially for those with respiratory conditions. Moreover, when mixed with bleach, ammonia turns into a poisonous gas called chloramine.

Healthier choice: Cleaning with distilled vinegar, lemon juice or alcohol can help you avoid inhaling toxic substances. Fill a spray bottle with water and one-quarter cup of white vinegar or one tablespoon of lemon juice to remove greasy fingerprints and other stubborn spots.

Caustic Soda

This powerful, corrosive substance — also known as lye or sodium hydroxide — is extremely damaging to humans and the environment. Although less commonly used now than in the past, it is still found in products such as drain openers and oven cleaners. This toxic chemical can cause burns, scarring and permanent bodily damage.

Natural alternative: Use a baking soda paste as a natural cleaning alternative for grimy ovens. Mix one cup of baking soda with a little bit of water, then rub the mixture onto the dirty surfaces. Let it sit for about an hour. Wipe off the paste with a damp cloth.


Commercial air fresheners are useful for getting rid of odors, but they release toxic fumes and chemical byproducts such as formaldehyde with each perfumed puff. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and prolonged exposure to the substance can lead to cancer, brain damage, and irritation of the eyes, skin, and throat.

Healthier choice: Make a safer air freshener with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance. To create a natural spray, combine distilled water with witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, along with your favorite essential oils. Essential oils in a diffuser can also improve the smell of a room.


Multipurpose and glass cleaners are the most common household items containing 2-butoxyethanol. This chemical is part of the glycol ethers family, a set of powerful solvents. While 2-butoxyethanol is what gives cleaning products their characteristic sweet smell, it can cause throat irritation, headaches, narcosis, vomiting, and kidney damage.

Natural alternative: Clean mirrors with newspaper and diluted vinegar. For kitchen tasks, make a multipurpose cleaner with baking soda, essential oils and vinegar.


This group of chemicals is used to soften and add flexibility to plastics, but phthalates are also found in household products such as dish soaps and air fresheners. Sadly, you are unlikely to see this ingredient on a label since companies are not required to disclose what’s in their scents.

If the ingredient list includes the word ‘fragrance’, it’s highly likely that the product contains phthalates. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors. That means they can interfere with the secretion of hormones that regulate various bodily functions. Aerosol sprays and air fresheners can also be migraine and asthma triggers.

Healthier choice: When possible, select fragrance-free or all-natural organic products. Further, consider adding more plants to your home, as they are natural air detoxifiers.


Triclosan is a common active chemical in all antibacterial hand soaps and detergents. Not only does the chemical harm water-based ecosystems such as rivers and lakes, but it also contributes to antibiotic resistance, making users more susceptible to bacteria.

Natural alternative: Consider switching to handmade soap, which contains saponins that are effective enough to kill bacteria and other disease-causing germs.

You can still achieve a clean home by substituting simple and safe cleaning products made from household items you already have. To learn more about the natural alternatives for toxic cleaners, take a look at the accompanying infographic.

Author bio: Juan Padilla is the founder of Spotless Cleaning Chicago, an office and commercial cleaning company. With several years of experience in the cleaning industry, his focus is on improving the janitorial industry and helping other small businesses understand their customers and how to succeed.



  1. I will certainly get rid of air fresheners in my apartment! Thank you for the useful information, which will help keep my family healthy.


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