Substitutes for Household Cleaners

Hello There and welcome to my site. I wish there were tighter regulation on the ingredients and substances that go into household cleaners. I also wish that manufacturers had to list every ingredient that they used to make a product. Some (Many) manufacturers do not list an ingredient if the ingredient is inert.  I think they should do away with the trade secrets especially since we know that these substances can be harmful to our health. Today I would like to discuss substitutes for household cleaners.

The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners, according to Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition.

substitute for household cleanersSubstitutes for Household Cleaners –All-Purpose Cleaners

All-Purpose cleaning products are used to clean countertops, skinks, tiles and tubs. Really just about anything that needs to be cleaned. They are usually too streaky for glass cleaners and can

Some all-purpose cleaners contain substances such as  diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). When these substances come into contact with nitrites found in preservatives, they react to form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines can penetrate the skin.

If the cleaner is made with ethoxylated alcohols then 1,4-dioxane which is a carcinogen may be present.

Butyl cellosolve is another ingredient found in  all purpose cleaners. It is  also known as ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. The concern is that this ingredient is thought to be neurotoxic.

If the cleanser foams then  it may contain SLS otherwise known as sodium lauryl sulfate. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. Ammonium lauryl sulfate, or ALS, is similar to SLS and poses similar risks.

Substitute for an all purpose cleaner. Use castile soap which is free from processed detergents. and hot water

Substitutes for Household Cleaners -Powdered All-Purpose Scrub

Powdered all-purpose scrubs are typically used for cleaning sinks, tiles and bathtubs. Unfortunately they contain chlorinated phenols which can damage the lung.

Some scouring powders contain silica which are small particles that can damage the lungs.

Substitute for powdered scrub -Baking soda can can lift dirt and deodorize. It is also great as a scrub.


essential oils for sensitive skin

Glass and Window Cleaner

Diethylene glycol found in cleaners is toxic to the lung, blood, kidneys, and the nervous system.

Ammonium hydroxide can irritate the lungs and skin, it is also toxic to marine life.

2-butoxyethanol can be found in many window cleaners and multipurpose cleaners that gives these items their characteristic sweet smell. It belongs in the category of “glycol ethers, Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label. This ingredient can cause sore throats and high levels can cause  damage to the lungs, kidney and liver. Source EPA

Substitute for glass cleaner -White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and grease-cutter.

Substitutes for Household Cleaners Soaps

Dish soap

Try to go color free. The colors may contain heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, and may penetrate the skin during washing and leave impurities on dishes.

Powdered detergents for automatic dishwashers can contain phosphates which threaten marine life.

Chlorine can release into the air.

Laundry Soap

Laundry soap contains ingredients that can cause skin irritation.

Nonylphenol ethoxylate a common surfactant is slow to degrade in the environment.

Substitute for laundry Consider using Washing soda or baking soda

Stain Remover

Stain removers contain a number of ingredients that have health concerns. There is concern for carcinogens as well as organ damage.

2-Butoxyethanol  discussed above

Quaternium-15 discussed below

Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) which can damage the lungs as well as irritate the skin and eyes.

Perchloroethylene EPA classifies perc as a “possible carcinogen” as well.

Stain remover substitute orange oil

Orange oil can act as a stain remover. Do a test-patch on a hidden part of the clothing or fabric to ensure the orange oil won’t remove the fabric dye.

Oven cleaners

Oven cleaners contain lye and sodium hydroxide both of which are corrosive and can burn skin and eyes.

Oven cleaner substitute,

  1. Make a paste out of the soap, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Coat the oven and let sit for several hours.
  3. Dip a sponge or scrubbing brush in hot water and wash the interior clean.
  4. Rinse with white vinegar.

substitutes for household cleaners

Drain Cleaner

Most chemical drain cleaners contain corrosive ingredients such as sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) that can permanently burn eyes and skin.

Drain cleaner substitute,

Mix together baking salt, salt and vinegar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before running hot water.

Substitutes for Household Cleaners Room Disinfectant

Room deodorizers can contain butane which can harm the brain and nervous system.

Tea tree essential oil has been shown to offer antibacterial properties.

Make your own room deodorizer disinfectant spray.


Most disinfectants use “Quats” or Quaternary Ammonium Compounds are found in most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial.” They are known to damage the lung and can irritate the skin.

Some disinfectant cleaners were found to contain alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs). Tests conducted  by the Washington Toxics Coalition show that APEs may be hormone disruptors that don’t readily biodegrade, threatening fish and wildlife when they go down your drain.


Remember that “nice scent” can be a source of health problems. Fragrance can cause neurotoxicity, allergies and skin sensitivities. Fragrances are added to cleaners t o give that “nice aroma”. Unfortunately, you will not know what the ingredients are by looking at the label alone. Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients of a fragrance due to “trade secret”. There is minimal regulation of potential harmful chemicals that are used to make their fragrance. Make your own with a couple of drops of essential oils. Ensure you are not using essential oils.

Furniture polish

Furniture polish may contain formaldehyde which is a suspected carcinogen.Try a small amount of olive oil on a cloth.

Metal polish

Metal polishes may contain ammonia which can irritate the lungs, eyes and skin. Try toothpase to polish your metals.

Cleaning cloths

Swiffer dry cloths contain polypropylene which may irritate skin. Use a plain dampened microfiber cloth instead.

Tell me what ingredients you stay away from.

What are your substitutes for household cleaners?

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