11 Natural Alternatives To Chemical Cleaners For An Eco-Friendly Living Space

If you grew up in a household where the cleaning supplies were kept out of reach of kids because of health hazards, well, we're here to tell you that's not the only way to live. We think home cleaning products shouldn't pose a threat to your family's health; fortunately, in the age of earth-conscious, naturally-made everything, they don't have to. 

Time to get in gear before spring cleaning season and swap out your (potentially) hazardous cleaning supplies for more earth-friendly ones. Why would you want to switch out cleaning products? Organica Biotech lists a few benefits, but chief among them is that natural cleaning products are better for the health of your family, home, and environment. 

Still not convinced? Science Daily reports on a study at UC Berkeley, where researchers better defined the negative effects chemical cleaning products can have on your health. They found that chemical cleaning products not only act as "potential carcinogens and hormone disruptors," but also that switching to natural cleaning products caused an "86% decrease in chloroform exposure" among subjects.

If that isn't reason enough to switch to green cleaning products, we don't know what is. Switching to natural cleaning products is easier than you may think, and you'll probably find you have a lot of ingredients for DIY cleaning products already on hand. So without further ado, here are some natural alternatives to all your go-to cleaning products.

All-purpose cleaner

Let's start with your favorite, tried-and-true all-purpose cleaner. You know, the bottle you grab when you don't know what else to clean with, or when you just need a good dose of the mind and body benefits of cleaning. All-purpose cleaner is great for counters, sinks, and anything that needs cleaning that you might not have a specialized cleaner for. Check your current all-purpose cleaner for ingredients like ammonia, chlorine bleach, and other chemicals — if it contains any, you probably want to swap it out.

You could always opt for a store-bought natural all-purpose cleaner, which we recommend if you don't have the ingredients on hand to DIY one or if you want one that's scented. We love Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Cleaner and Grove Co.'s Multi-Surface Cleaner, both of which come in a variety of scents. 

If you'd rather make your own all-purpose cleaner, it's pretty easy to do so. Eartheasy recommends combining 1/2 gallon of water with 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda; then, pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle and keep the rest on hand for refills. If you want to scent it yourself, you can always use a few drops of natural essential oils.

Toilet bowl cleaner

We know, we know, nobody loves cleaning the toilet — but it could be made a little more bearable when you know you're not cleaning it with toxic chemicals. Hunker reports that most chemically-based toilet bowl cleaners will have hydrochloric acid and chlorine bleach, which can be harmful when breathed in or if the product comes into contact with your skin. 

Want a natural alternative? We don't blame you. You may find that simple household vinegar does the trick — let it sit in your toilet for a few minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush. If you're trying to remove stains or your toilet just needs a little more TLC, Martha Stewart recommends pouring 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup borax into your toilet, swishing it around, and letting it sit overnight before scrubbing the stains in the morning. If you'd rather buy something natural for your toilet, Seventh Generation makes a great natural toilet cleaning powder, Blueland makes eco-friendly toilet bowl cleaning tablets, and Mrs. Meyer's has an excellent liquid option.

Dishwasher detergent

Listen, if you're eating off of it, you absolutely want it to be clean. And when it comes to dishes, "clean" doesn't just mean free from dirt and grime — it also means free from the potentially harmful chemicals that are found in many dishwasher detergents. Chemical dishwashing detergent often contains ingredients like phosphates, chlorine, and formaldehyde, according to Koparo Clean. These chemicals can potentially harm not only you and your family if accidentally ingested, but they're also bad for marine life.

A common concern when switching dishwashing detergents is whether your new one will get your dishes clean as well as your tried-and-true option. Dropps makes natural dishwashing pods that work just as well as your chemical go-to. Biokleen and Seventh Generation also have great options for dishwashing liquid. If you'd rather DIY it, Mommypotamus swears that washing soda with a couple drops of essential oil works just as well. You can make your own washing soda by just heating up some baking soda — pour a layer of baking soda onto a baking sheet and place it in an oven set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, and voila — you've got your very own dishwasher detergent.

Window and glass cleaner

That's right — before you reach for that bottle of Windex, it might be time to find a more natural window and glass cleaner for your home. Yes, the brand that's been under your sink for decades could actually be causing you more harm than good. In fact, Windex garnered a D rating from EWG, who says it can contribute to respiratory problems and skin irritation, and that it's bad for the environment. 

Worried you'll never find a glass cleaner that works as well as Windex? Don't be! Biokleen has a great eco-friendly glass cleaning solution available, as do other natural brands like Method and Seventh Generation. If you'd rather DIY it, no problem — you might already have the ingredients on hand. Better Homes and Gardens has three different homemade solutions you can try: Add 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol to a spray bottle, then fill with water; combine a few drops of mild dishwashing soap with hot water in a large bucket; or combine 2 cups distilled water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle. All of these DIY options offer streak-free solutions to cleaning your windows and mirrors, without the risk of harmful chemicals.

Bathroom tile and tub cleaner

If the bathroom is your least favorite place to clean, you're not alone — but you have to admit, spraying a foaming shower cleaner on some dirty tile and wiping it clean a few minutes later is satisfying, and it makes cleaning your bathroom a breeze. That's why we don't blame you if you revolt when we say you might want to trade out your foaming shower cleanser for a more natural option. Why? Well, some of your favorite shower cleaners (looking at you, Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Foamer and Tilex Soap Scum Remover) earned an F rating from EWG for containing ingredients that are potential carcinogens, harmful when inhaled, irritating to your skin, and bad for the environment. And that's just the ingredients listed on the bottle!

It's okay, though — there are plenty of natural alternatives to your go-to tub and tile cleanser. Grove Co. makes a great shower cleaning concentrate, and Seventh Generation has a natural tub and tile cleaner as well. If you want to make your own, it's pretty easy, even if you're trying to remove tough stains. One thing to note: Stay away from using vinegar on tile, as it can chip away at and damage unsealed tile. To make your own, Earth Friendly Tips recommends combining 6 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup water, and 3 tablespoons of liquid castile soap in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on your tile and wipe with a towel to clean.


Ah, deodorizers! The cleaning product you whip out after a deep clean when you want to give your home that no-animal-has-ever-peed-on-our-carpet smell. You breathe it in, splay out on the couch, and sigh happily with the pride of a job well done. The only problem? That happy sigh of relief is actually a breath full of chemical-laden air-freshening particles. That's right — the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that using air fresheners can actually increase the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home that can, in turn, compromise your family's health.

Fortunately, there's lots of options to keep your home smelling clean — without the risk! Existing odors can be removed with baking soda — try placing an open box in problem areas of your home, like a pantry, refrigerator, or small closet. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water and scrub it on smelly spots on carpets or furniture. Instead of opting for an aerosol air freshener, grab a spray formula from a brand like Mrs. Meyers or Caldrea. Or, why not try a natural candle or reed diffuser? Good natural candle brands include Fontana Candle Co. and La Lueur, or you could get a natural reed diffuser from Neom Organics or B's Knees Fragrance Co.

Laundry detergent

Who doesn't love the smell of clean laundry? Nobody, probably. But when was the last time you checked the ingredients on your laundry detergent? We don't blame you for turning a blind eye to chemicals in the name of that sweet, sweet smell of lavender detergent, but it might be time to consider making a change — not only for your health, but also for the environment. Green Citizen explains that the first ingredients you should look for in your current detergent are phosphates, chlorine bleach, and brighteners. Not only are these not great for your skin, but they'll also end up in water systems. 

Want to make a change but not sure where to begin? Dropps makes great eco-friendly laundry pods that leave your laundry clean and smelling fresh. ECOS makes an excellent plant-powered liquid laundry detergent. If you want to go the extra mile and remove tough stains by hand, you could get a solid bar of laundry soap from a company like Ethique. You can always make your own, of course, but some ingredients may be hard to find. If you want to try it, Tom's recommends combining 1 bar of soap (shredded with a cheese grater), 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup epsom salts and 1/2 cup powdered citric acid in a food processor. Process until it's mixed and store in an airtight container — you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Carpet cleaner

No, we're not talking about vacuums, so don't worry about replacing that one yet. But if you have kids, pets, or just tend to spill a lot, it might be time to replace your go-to carpet cleaner. Among the potentially hazardous ingredients commonly found in carpet cleaner are perchloroethylene and naphtalene, both of which can cause nausea and dizziness if you're exposed to them. We recommend skipping commercial carpet cleaning, too, as many carpet cleaning services will also use products that contain these (and other) chemicals.

Want a simple switch that's guaranteed to be clean? Try steam cleaning your carpet! Water vapor is naturally non-toxic and when used regularly on your carpet, can keep it clean. If you have to tackle stains and steam isn't doing the trick, Advanced Vapor Technologies has several possible solutions, most of which involve a combination of any of the following: salt, water, borax, baking soda, and vinegar, which we bet you have most of already on hand. If you don't feel like making your own, you could try Puracy's Natural Carpet Shampoo or Biokleen's Carpet and Rug Shampoo. If you have pets, stains might be more frequent — in that case, opt for a natural pet stain and odor remover, like the one from Pristine.

Oven cleaner

Hopefully you're not such a messy cook that you need to clean your oven all that often (though if you are, no shade). Regardless, you probably know what a pain it can be to clean dried, crusted, burnt food bits off the inside of your oven. The problem becomes especially troubling when you realize that your standard oven cleaner will likely contain chemicals like sodium hydroxide and butoxydiglycol, both of which are toxic. Products like Easy-Off Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner have an F rating from EWG.

Believe it or not, there are alternatives to your standard oven cleaner that work at least as good as their chemical counterparts. One that garnered rave reviews from Country Living is the foaming oven cleaner from UK brand Delphis. Other recommended oven cleaning brands include Ecover and Dirtbusters. If you want to make your own, try it! Easy Peasy and Fun has a tried and true DIY oven cleaning method that utilizes baking soda, vinegar, and water. Pour about 4 cups of water into a deep baking dish and add a few spoonfuls of baking soda; then, bake the mixture at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Let it cool in the oven, then spray the inside of the oven with vinegar, let it sit for a bit, and soon all the muck and grime should wipe away clean.

Hand soap

Sorry but yes, you may want to swap out your hand soap. But hand soap couldn't possibly contain toxins, right? After all, we use it to clean our hands, which then touch everything we interact with — and actually, when we put it that way, it's probably time to take another look at the ingredients on that bottle. What could possibly be harmful about the hand soap you've been using since you needed a step stool to reach the sink? Well, sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), for one. SLS is the ingredient soap companies love to add to get the soap to build up a nice, sudsy lather — and yes, it's highly toxic, according to EWG.

We bet hand soap is the cleaning product you use most often, meaning it's probably the one you're currently running out the door to replace. Aunt Fannie's Hand Soap is a great clean alternative, as are Dr. Bronner's Sugar Soap and Sally B's Skin Yummies (the latter of which is EWG verified). And yes, you guessed it — you can also opt to make your own. Boxwood Avenue recommends mixing 1/8 cup castile soap, 2.5 cups water, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make your own liquid hand soap. If your hands need a little extra hydration, Hello Glow says you can add some almond oil or coconut oil to your homemade soap for added moisturizing effects.

Wood floor cleaner

If you have hardwood floors, you know they always seem to require a little extra TLC. Hardwood floors can be damaged by any number of things; even using too much water to mop your hardwood floors could damage them, so you want to make sure that you're cleaning with wood-safe cleaner. While it's easy to just run to the store and buy a wood floor cleaner, many of them contain chemicals that aren't great to have floating around your home. When shopping, look out for wood floor cleaners that contain fragrances, detergent, or ethanolomines, which can cause respiratory issues. 

Want some safer wood floor cleaning options? Aunt Fannie's and Method have effective eco-friendly wood floor cleaning solutions. If you want to DIY this cleaner as well, there are a ton of options, according to District Floor Depot. You could always make a very diluted vinegar and water solution (about 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to a gallon of water), and even add a few drops of essential oil if the scent of vinegar is too overpowering. Make sure you aren't using super concentrated vinegar solutions, and don't use vinegar too often, as it could damage the and dull the seal on your floors.