Blog Action Day – Household Cleaners

Today is Blog Action Day, and as my part, I will be writing about our choice to rid our home of toxic cleaners. As you probably know, many of the most popular cleaners are toxic. Some of the ways you can gauge the toxicity of a product are by reading its ingredients or the warning label. It’s true! Literacy is wonderful!

Tip: If the label mentions causing dizziness and nausea or to “allow venting with fresh air” after usage, it’s probably toxic.

This summer, the Household Hazard Report described five hazardous ingredients typically found in common cleaning products and their potential negative effects on people and the environment. It did an excellent job of explaining why to avoid conventional cleaning products.

The report identified MEA, alkylphenol ethoxylates, phthalates, the glycol ethers EGBE and DEGME, and quaternary amine disinfectants as hazardous chemicals linked to the development of asthma and reproductive defects in the people that use them and their families. Not to mention what the toxic by-products of these cleaners do to our environment. (You can read more here.)

Here is a small sample of the conventional cleaners that include one or more of these chemicals (that can cause asthma and reproductive defects, YO.)

Formula 409
Simple Green products (interesting choice of a name)
Glass Plus
Mr. Clean
Spic and Span
Several laundry detergents (Tide Ultra, Tide 2X, Cheer, Dreft , Era, Ivory Snow, Gain…the list goes on and on. This was the most shocking to me.)

As you can see, most of the conventional cleaners are on this list. Frightening, no?

We made our decision to ban all of these products before the birth of Wito and we have never looked back. I’ll admit, finding products that clean as well as the conventional ones proved to be daunting at times, but one year later, we are 100% happy with our choices. (Which I will share with you. Right now. Because I love you and want you to spend your free time doing something else besides testing household cleaners.)

Whoorl’s non-toxic household cleaners (which is basically Method’s entire portfolio. Asterisks by the ones I can’t live without.):

*Method Naked Surface Wipes – I love these wipes! First off, let me say that a lot of my products are scent-free, however, Method does make several naturally-scented versions if you prefer. Just let me state for the record, CLEAN DOES NOT HAVE A SCENT. I know we have all been programmed to correlate lemon and pine with clean (it’s Pine Fresh!), but clean doesn’t smell like lemon or pine. Clean smells like nothing.

I use these wipes for the counters, Wito’s high chair, splats on the floor, etc. They are truly all-purpose.

Method All-Purpose Surface Cleaner – Same all-purpose cleaning ability, just in a spray.

Method Tub and Tile Spray – This is great for the bathroom shower and sink.

*Oxo-Brite – I would buy stock in this non-chlorine bleach. Use it in the laundry as a brightener, scrub the sinks and tub with it, anything that requires a little elbow grease will benefit from Oxo-Brite. I* also use it in places where I* would have previously used Comet. For instance, in the summer, our shower floor can get pretty grimy for our beach trips. If I* used the Method Tub and Tile spray only, I* could get it clean with a lot of work. Instead, I* just sprinkle some Oxo-Brite and it would be sparkling in 1/3 of the time. Seriously, I want to make out with this stuff.

Method Window Wash – Like Windex, but with healthy lungs!

*Method Stainless Steel Wipes – Holy mother. We have stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. Before, I used all of those products where you rub it in and buff and rub and buff. BAH. I was so skeptical that these wimpy little wipes could make my stainless sparkle. Holy shit, you guys! It works better than any of those rubbing/buffing liquids or potions. Just wipe down and toss in the trash. No streaking, no smears, nothing. I don’t understand how it works so quickly and perfectly, but I shall perish if they stop making it.

Method Wood For Good Spray and wipes – Shiny wood is good!

Method Dish Soap – We use the Pink Grapefruit scented version of this one. (I like it, JANET.)

EcoSense Diamond Brite Automatic Dishwasher Detergent – Do you remember my dishwasher woes? LVgurl sent me an email about Diamond Brite, and it is by far the best I’ve ever used (toxic or non-toxic). You have to be a member of Melaleuca to buy it, but you can bypass the membership by purchasing on eBay. (At least that’s what I did.)

*Method Foaming Hand Wash – We blow through this stuff in our kitchen and bathroom. (Hi! We get off on washing our hands at the Whoorl household!) You can buy the eco-friendly refills at Costco or Target, too.

Method Unscented Laundry Detergent – Perfect laundry detergent. No scent and ultra-concentrated so you only use a little. Side note: I also bought the Method Baby detergent, but the baby powder scent was a little overwhelming to me.

Folex Carpet Cleaner – This is a water-based non-ionic surfactant with no hazardous chemicals. Works like a charm and you don’t have to rinse after using.

The best part about Method products is the availability at places like Target. You don’t have to go searching for an eco-friendly marketplace to find these. So, you really don’t have an excuse? Right?

I would love to hear your suggestions for non-toxic cleaners. Bring it on!

* In the interest of full disclosure, “I” meaning “the housekeepers”. Just keepin’ it real.

  1. margalit

    October 15, 2007 at 8:10 am

    I’m big on Method products myself, but I have to say, the lavender scent is fabulous in laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and hand soap. My daughter particularly likes the cucumber scent for dishwashing liquid, too.

    I was trained that clean smells like bleach, and it’s really hard for me NOT to want to use bleach products… I love the smell. But Method has made me happy with the lavender scent and now that smells like clean to me.

  2. Heather B.

    October 15, 2007 at 8:10 am

    I love love love Method products. I can’t remember whether or not you have hardwood floors but they have this great wood floor cleaner that works wonders and smells divine.

    Are you seriously wondering whether or not we have hardwood floors? SERIOUSLY?

  3. Jessica

    October 15, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I haven’t bought a lot of Method products because I couldn’t tell if they were non-toxic. However, i have bought the Method wood floor cleaner, and oh my, it is awesome. Beyond cleaning the floors, it smells delicious, like almonds.

    Also, we don’t have a dishwasher, so we use seventh generation dishsoap, which is also now carried at Target.

    Lastly, we bought cast iron cookware so that you can’t use soap to clean it and it doesn’t have teflon. You just rinse it off and dry it (or scrape it) after each cleaning. Love it!

  4. janet

    October 15, 2007 at 8:25 am

    I love the method products too and am slowly becoming addicted to them!

    However, I just bought a bottle of the pink grapefruit all purpose spray to replace my cucumber one that was running low, and OMG, it smells like stinky feet! I almost cried!

    I think I will switch to lavender next. Or naked. Anything but stinky grapefruit feet.

    Also, it’s going to take some time before I disassociate pine sol with clean. But I’m working on it.

  5. 180/360

    October 15, 2007 at 8:34 am

    I, too have spent the better part of the past 5 years switching over to natural and healthier alternatives, which you can read more about on my Blog Action Day post! :)

    I use several Method products and I also like Ecover and Earth Friendly Products. It has definitely been hit or miss though, especially with household cleaners- whereas I’ve had great luck with finding healthier food alternatives. I will have to check out Oxo-Brite- that I have not tried yet!

  6. janet

    October 15, 2007 at 8:48 am

    metalia’s comment has me wondering — are the Mrs. Meyer’s products on the good list or the evil list?

  7. Miguelina (Reluctant Housewife)

    October 15, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Awesome list. My cleaning woman is pretty environmentally friendly (she cleans our hardwood floors with vinegar, for example). But since she only comes over every two weeks, I didn’t know what I could use for the floors in between her visits- will try that Method cleanser recommended by one of your readers – almond sounds yummy – I just can’t deal with spraying vinegar on the floor.

  8. Jamie

    October 15, 2007 at 9:22 am

    My favorite eco-friendly product is Bio-Kleen laundry detergent – especially the grapefruit scent. You only need 1 oz. for a 30-lb. load and it definitely brightens my colors and whites! It’s also vegan.

    Click here for details, courtesy of http://www.drugstore.com.

  9. jenB

    October 15, 2007 at 9:22 am

    I have gone the all Shaklee way. They send me too many emails, but I like their stuff.

  10. Annika

    October 15, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I clean everything with baking soda or vinegar. Laundry gets a tiny bit of All Free & Clear, but when that runs out I may just use baking soda. The other week I ran out of everything so I cleaned one counter with two spritzes of 409. I had a headache for two days and the entire apartment stank. It was AWFUL.

  11. adriana

    October 15, 2007 at 9:53 am

    You should check out this store in Santa Ana that a friend of mine owns if you haven’t already. She sells all natural and recyclable stuff, nothing that could harm the earth or your loved ones:


    I haven’t made the full switch w/ my house, but I slowly plan on doing it. Good for you!

  12. Keely

    October 15, 2007 at 10:19 am

    We love Method in this house. Sometimes we stray, but this reminded me how good of a product line they have. Going to check out that dishwashing detergent now that we finally have a dishwasher. :)

  13. Nothing But Bonfires

    October 15, 2007 at 10:44 am

    I am ordering all of these. JUST yesterday I cursed Clorox for bleaching my favorite sweatpants as I sprayed a countertop. (Is it sad that I have favorite sweatpants? Maybe yes.) And Sean said “you don’t HAVE to use Clorox, you know.” But I have ALWAYS used Clorox and didn’t know what to replace it with — and then, like manna from heaven, your list arrived. So now I am going to be using the Method range (an excuse to go to Target! Like I need one!), because bleached sweatpants suck. Also, birth defects. I mean, no thanks.

    Don’t forget to check out the Oxo-Brite stuff. It is the Stain Removal Master. (I think Target carries it, as well.)

  14. Anna

    October 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Hi! first time over here, via finslippy, will be coming back, if I may!

    Re.the actual question…
    1. Ecover
    2. for everything else, vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

    Please do! Checking out Ecover right now…

  15. Manda

    October 15, 2007 at 10:50 am

    I just started using Method products and I have to agree…it’s nice that you don’t get your nose hair burned off by the fumes!! I had a miscarriage a while back and in the back of my mind I have wondered if toxins from cleaning products had anything to do with it (I know it probably didn’t but it has bugged me). We are going to totally switch over here. Gotta love Tar-zet!!