When I first started looking into better cleaners for our home I fell directly into the greenwashing trap. If you are curious about what greenwashing is I wrote a post specifically about it! I honestly didn’t know what I was looking for in a cleaner. I foolishly expected the companies to be up front and honest about what they were putting in their cleaners. These brands advertised to be better choices and I believed them. It wasn’t until I was later in my journey that I realized what I had done. After spending the money I wasn’t about to throw out all of the cleaners that I already bought. I decided to start looking into making my own when they ran out. One of the first ones I was going to need was a homemade multi-purpose cleaner.
While I was using them up I did quite a bit of research on the ingredients that you don’t want in your house too. Cleaners are such a chemical haven they were one of the first things I wanted to clean up.
Top 10 Chemicals In Cleaners
- Parabens- The key to spotting these is to look for the paraben at the end of the ingredient. Examples include methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben, and sodium butylparaben. Our endocrine system (our hormones) are easily affected by parabens. They also increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Phthalates- Look at the end of the ingredient to spot these as well. Examples include butyl benzyl phthalate, mono benzyl phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, di-n-octyl phthalate, and di-isononyll phthalate. Phthalates are also a known disruption to our endocrine system as well. They can also negatively impact sperm counts. This is the most common toxin! It is even often referred to as the “everywhere toxin.”
- Triclosan- There are a few trade names for triclosan including Ultra-Fresh, Irgasan, Irgacare, Viv-20, and Microban. Triclosan’s main use is as a microbial agent. Cleaners often use this to kill germs. However, skin sensitivity and liver damage are just a couple things Triclosan is known for.
- Fragrance- Fragrance is usually easy to identify, listed as fragrance. Within fragrance there can be thousands of other ingredients. Manufacturers are not required to let you know what these are. These can also cause asthma, respiratory issues, allergies, and can cause hormone disruptions.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfates– This has other names including sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt, sodium salt, hydrogen sulfate, dodecyl alcohol, sodium dodecanesulfate, and sodium monododecyl sulfate. 1,4-dioxane is a known carcinogen and can contaminate sodium laurel sulfates. On top of that it can also cause skin irritation. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates are a detergent that often appear in cleaners.
- Chlorine- Most commonly found in chlorine bleach. It’s easy to see why this one is bad for us. Mixing bleach with other cleaners can cause it to release poisonous gasses. Ingesting this chemical can cause death. That alone is enough for us to stay away! We wouldn’t think of it because it’s in pools and a lot of other things but there are side effects of chlorine. It can cause asthma, kill our gut bacteria, and has been linked to colon and bladder cancer as well.
- Formaldehyde- Other names for formaldehyde include Formalin, Formic aldehyde, Methanediol, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene glycol, Methylene oxide. Prior to looking into all of this I would have had no idea that these were posing as formaldehyde. They can cause allergies, irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and have also linked to cancer.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)– BHT is commonly found in moisturizing agents. Common names include: Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Butylhydroxytoluene, Di tert butyl methylphenol, di-tert-butyl-methylphenol, Dibunol, Hydroxytoluene, Butylated, Ionol, Ionol (BHT). BHT can cause damage to our kidneys and livers and may also promote tumor growth.
- 2-Butoxyethanol– Also known as “Butyl Cellosolve®,” “butyl oxitol,” “Dowanol® EB,” “EGBE,” “Ektasolve EB®,” “ethylene glycol monobutyl ether,” and “Jeffersol EB,” and can irritate our skin and eyes.
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds– Most commonly known as Benzalkonium chloride and Benzethonium chloride. It’s bad for us because it can cause allergies and asthma.
But Wait, There’s More!
Please keep in mind this is not the only list of chemicals that you don’t want. It has been a lengthy process to find all of this information. That is the first step to being able to look for them though! If you ever have questions about other names for these chemicals- Google it! A quick search can get you a lot of information. To find out more about chemicals you can also look for their spec sheets online. These show what they are made of, what they can be found in, and what they are commonly called.
Another good resource is the EWG app. This allows you to scan the barcode on your product. It will give each item a ranking in their system based on ingredients. You can find out which ingredients are bad and decide if that product is a good one for your home. I like this app because it also helps me to see if something is a better choice. It might not be perfect but depending on what it flags as a “bad” ingredient I might be okay with using it until I find something better.
I often find that the best way to avoid all of these nasty ingredients is just to make my own. I’ve actively pursued making my own cleaners because these can be some of the most toxic things in our house. They want to make them so that they can kill bacteria and be anti-microbial, but those same toxins that will accomplish those are the ones that are the worst for us. By making my own I can use all natural ingredients that I know will do the same thing and won’t have any unhealthy side effects.
Homemade Multi-Purpose Cleaner Supplies
Here are the supplies you need to make your own homemade multi-purpose cleaner:
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 TBSP baking soda
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
Add all ingredients together and shake! BE CAREFUL with the baking soda. Only add a little bit at a time because it will react with the vinegar. This causes a great deal of foam.
You have a few options for scents on this homemade multi-purpose cleaner too. Being able to change it up is one of the reasons that I love it so much!
- Use infused vinegar (my recipe here),
- 2 tsp of lemon juice,
- 10-15 drops of essential oil
- Or any combination of these!
I personally love to use the infused vinegar because it doesn’t have such a strong vinegar smell to it and add some essential oils to get a good mix of scents.
The only thing you need to do to make the cleaner is add all the ingredients to the spray bottle. I would add the baking soda last just because it will foam when added to water. Mix it all up and spray away.
Happy cleaning, friends! I hope you enjoy this homemade multi-purpose cleaner! What are your favorite scents for yours?
Here is the main source for this post-
Please know I have acquired a lot of this information over time. I started digging deeper because we had fertility issues. I enjoy figuring out what ingredients are, what they do, and why I don’t want them in our home.