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. Lisa

    October 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

    We use Seventh Generation chlorine free diapers and wipes! They work great!!

    Me too! We love their diapers and wipes.

  2. Sara

    October 15, 2007 at 11:10 am

    We love the Method, especially the Naked spray (you can make your own wipes with a baby wipes container and unbleached paper towels). Have you tried Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products? I love her sink scrub. The only place we are stuck on is the carpet cleaner. We found a company who is eco-friendly, however, our cat vomits and, until we can get rid of the carpet..we are stuck. I’ve used natural stuff, but it doesn’t work as well. Oxy Clean makes this carpet cleaner and it isn’t as bad, but still bad. My husband and daughter have asthma and sensitivities, and it doesn’t seem to bother them after I’ve used it. Any other ideas?

    Oh, you just reminded me! Have you tried Folex carpet cleaner? That’s what we use and it’s fantastic. I’ll add it to the list.

  3. dk

    October 15, 2007 at 11:18 am

    awesome post – great to see there are so many household cleaners that are in fact good to use for the environment and for ourselves! i’ll be taking a closer look at method when i go to target (plus have you just noticed that method products are just cuter? i know it’s marketing packaging but i consider it to be an extra bonus.

    also i love your blog and started one recently and added you to my blog roll. hope that’s okay. :)

  4. Clara

    October 15, 2007 at 11:18 am

    So…this is off-topic but still in the realm of eliminating toxins and all that good stuff. I keep seeing things about the dangers of many of the plastics used in sippy cups and baby bottles. Have you found any good alternatives to the plastic sippy cup?

  5. All Adither

    October 15, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Sippies: Sigg bottles are nice, but you can’t dishwasher them and they dent easily. I really like Klean Kanteen sippy cups (which can also be converted to bigger kid water bottles). Just google them and they’ll come up.

    Klean Kanteens do leak a little with the sippy cup top, but I haven’t found a sippy cup yet that doesn’t leak.

  6. bethany actually

    October 15, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I love Method products, but don’t use them consistently because of the prices. You may be swaying me towards using them more. And I’ll have to try the Oxo-Brite. Thanks for the tip!

    I have found that plain old baking soda and water will get things amazingly clean. And vinegar is a great deodorizer and natural antiseptic, too. (Smelly, though.)

  7. Holly

    October 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Not that I have ever dropped a fresh pizza out of the oven on my brand new beige carpet on the first night that I moved into my apartment BUT…if I had the Folex might have saved my deposit.

    (*ok*ok* so I’m clumsy! But the stuff really did work!)

    Love it!

  8. Isabel

    October 15, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    We’re in the process of switching over to Method at our house also. Hooray!

  9. am'ti b

    October 15, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    as you know i think i am an enviromentalist. i occasionally use method, but only the tub and tile b/c it does smell good. i think whole foods and/or wild oats has a great selection of everything one might need. i am also a germaphobic clean freak as well as being preggers and mrs. meyers does it for me, their scrub is the best tub/sink cleaner ever (i use oxo-bright in my laundry.) we also use mrs. meyers lavender or geranium detergent. one last tid-bit, it is a little more expensive, but everyone should buy non-bleached recycled toilet paper and paper towels, talk about helping you and the enviroment (tjs had good prices.) remember, just changing one thing will make a difference for us all!

  10. Miranda

    October 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Hiya! First time replier here. Great site, just recently discovered it.

    Great recommendations that I will be sure to check out in the near future? Any plans/interest in a post of this nature about hygiene products? I just a few months ago decided I wanted to be much more careful about the products I use on my body and have been very happy with the results. I am by no means an expert on all the products available, but I have found a few lines, like Suki (http://www.sukisnaturals.com/), that I just LOVE! Just a thought.

  11. Spandrel Studios (formerly Joining WW Again)

    October 15, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Haven’t tried all the Method products you’ve mentioned, so tomorrow I’m off to target to stock up. As always, your sparkling commentary is appreciated!

  12. lisa

    October 15, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    I used to be a big fan of Method as well, but as some other readers have mentioned- I dont think they are as natrual and friendly as they lead on. I have started using Ecover products and LOVE them. I buy the dish soap religiously and have found it works as well if not better than Dawn. I also have tried the automatic dishwasher tablets and powder. I now just buy the powder because I get more for my money but both do a fantastic! job at getting dishes clean.

    Also using things like baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice can be useful in cleaning (inexpensive too!)

  13. Deanna (domestic chicky)

    October 15, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    I love the Method Products! I don’t buy any others now, except for a lone bottle of bleach that only sees the light of day to clean the toilet REALLY well once a week (it’s my one breaking point-I am the only female in a house of boys-ugh!)

  14. Teej

    October 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I changed to non toxic products a year ago and I will never go back to the name brands. I use a lot of Method products but also I use Nature Clean and Ecover.
    For your Canadian readers Method is available exclusively at Shopper’s Drug Mart here.
    I also got rid of dryer sheets altogether because they are basically filled with chemicals that are linked to cancers and if you are looking to soften fabric you can just a 1/4 cup of vinegar to your wash.
    Another product I would recommend is microfiber cloths for household clenaing.(www.tergowholesale.com) They come in different textures and colours so that you can designate a colour per task, ie one for windows, one for stainless steel and they work really well. We have them at our office and they are really good in the kitchen.
    Besides eliminating toxic chemicals we should also consider decreasing our consumption of disposable items.

  15. coolmom

    October 15, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    I am so with you, Whoorl, Oxo-Brite ROCKS my world. And no joke, clean doesn’t have a smell, and for that matter, lemon-scented Pine-Sol doesn’t smell like lemons.