We Found The Safest Cleaning Products (In All Categories)
If you’re like most of us, your home has at least a few cleaning products. They’re an essential item: from surface cleaners to dish soaps and toilet cleaners, they’re indispensable—and often filled with toxic chemicals.
The unfortunate truth is that the cleaning products we all use in our homes could contribute to adverse health impacts on us, our families, and our pets.
However, as people become more aware of the risks of these products, there has been a growing demand for non-toxic alternatives. Every cleaning section in a big box store will have at least a few cleaning products advertising themselves as non-toxic or better for the environment.
There are now non-toxic options for every cleaning product in the home, but it’s still essential to read labels carefully to ensure you’re choosing truly non-toxic products.
Want to jump straight to our list of recommended non-toxic cleaners? Click here.
We Analyzed The Ingredients in “Non-Toxic” Cleaners
At Better Goods, we look closely at the ingredients of each product we list to discover if it’s truly as non-toxic as they claim. We took 20+ cleaners from popular brands touting themselves as clean, and unsurprisingly, some of the products we looked at contained ingredients on our banned list.
It’s essential never blindly to follow marketing—greenwashing is rampant, especially in the cleaning products industry. Just because a brand or product seems like it might be non-toxic, it might not be. This is why we must do our due diligence and ensure the products we bring into our homes are safe.
Seven Good Reasons To Switch To Non-Toxic Cleaners
Here are seven good reasons to switch to non-toxic cleaners:
- They improve the air quality in your home. Traditional cleaning products release harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can contribute to indoor air pollution. Truly non-toxic cleaners, on the other hand, do not release VOCs, making them a safer choice for your home.
- They’re better for the environment. Non-toxic cleaners are often made from plant-based or naturally derived biodegradable ingredients that do not harm the environment. Conventional cleaners, on the other hand, may contain toxic chemicals like petroleum-based ingredients that can be harmful to the environment.
- Ingredient transparency. By law, cleaning product manufacturers are not required to list all of the ingredients on their labels, so you may not know what’s in the products you’re using. Non-toxic cleaners often transparently list their ingredients in a simple and easy-to-understand way, giving you the information you need to make informed decisions about what’s best for your family’s health.
- They reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. Conventional cleaning products can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues in people with sensitivities. Non-toxic cleaners, on the other hand, do not contain harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances that can exacerbate these conditions. Switching to non-toxic cleaners can help reduce the risk of allergies and asthma.
- They’re just as effective. In the past, non-toxic cleaners may not have been as powerful or effective as conventional cleaners. However, today’s non-toxic cleaning products have been improved to offer comparable performance without sacrificing safety. Some natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar and baking soda have powerful cleaning properties that are just as effective as their chemical counterparts.
- They’re safer for pets. Pets, especially cats and dogs, spend much time on the floor and can come into contact with toxic cleaning chemicals. Non-toxic cleaners are much less likely to cause a reaction in pets and are less likely to harm them if ingested.
- They have fewer harsh odors. Non-toxic cleaners are often made with natural ingredients like essential oils and plant-based fragrances that provide a pleasant scent without being overpowering. Conventional cleaners, on the other hand, may contain artificial fragrances, alcohols, and other chemicals that can have strong and unpleasant odors.
While non-toxic cleaning products may sometimes be more expensive than traditional cleaners, the benefits—including improved health, safety, and environmental protection—far outweigh the costs. By switching to non-toxic cleaners for your home, you can consciously protect your family and the environment.
Ingredients of Concern We Found
The following is a list of ingredients we found in cleaning products that we recommend avoiding:
2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that this ingredient causes numerous health issues including liver damage in animal studies. This ingredient can be found in several types of cleanings, including glass cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, and oven cleaners.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATS) – Quats are biocides that may cause skin and respiratory irritation. They are known allergens and have been linked to occupational asthma in those exposed daily. QUATS can be found in cleaning products including laundry detergents, stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, and degreasers.
Coal tar dyes – Synthetic coal tar dyes are used to give products funky unnatural colors. They’re used in all types of products, especially cleaning and beauty products. Coal tar dyes can contain traces of heavy metals, which can be toxic to humans if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Coal tar dyes are a known human carcinogen.
MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA(triethanolamine) – These chemicals are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in many cleaning products, including shampoos and laundry detergents. These ingredients can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a possible cancer-causing agent.
Phosphates – Phosphates are commonly used in cleaning products to soften hard water and increase the cleaning power of detergents. Unfortunately, phosphates can cause significant environmental problems by promoting algal blooms in bodies of water that can deplete oxygen levels, killing off aquatic life.
Sodium lauryl sulfate / sodium laureth sulfate – These chemicals are among the harshest ingredients used in cleaning products. They can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. SLS and SLES are surfactants, giving products the foaming action you’re familiar with in shampoos, toothpaste, and cleaning products.
Triclosan – Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient found in many household products, including hand soaps and body washes. It is a known endocrine disruptor and has been linked to creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The European Union also classifies triclosan as a skin and eye irrtant. In 2016, the FDA banned triclosan from hand soaps and body washes.
PEGs / polyethylene glycol – PEGs are used as surfactants and thickeners in many cleaning products. They can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, both of which are probable human carcinogens. PEGs are also skin irritants.
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) – This is a preservative that is linked to neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity.
We researched the internet, online stores, and social media for the most popular cleaning products that present themselves as being clean and non-toxic.
Each ingredient in every product was researched and analyzed for safety based on available public research. Where possible, sources for information are included.
Products are ranked from best to worst with an internal score based on the ingredient rankings.
Below is our list of analyzed cleaning products. They’re rated on this scale:
– These products are the best of the best. They contain great ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.
– These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
– These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients or materials that are questionable.
– These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.
The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners By Category
We’ve broken down our recommendations for non-toxic cleaners by type. All of these contain non-toxic ingredients, mainly natural with some safe synthetics.
All-Purpose Cleaners (Rated Best & Good)
ECOS All Purpose Cleaner is made from biodegradable ingredients, including plant-derived surfactants. Unlike many other cleaners, this one is also free of colorants. It comes in one scent: parsley, which is pleasant and naturally-derived. For these reasons, it comes highly recommended.
Method’s All Purpose cleaner contains a couple of ingredients that came to our attention. C12-16 PARETH-7 and limonene are classified as potential skin irritants, but because this is a cleaner, the trace amounts on surface areas cleaned with the cleaner shouldn’t be an issue. It also has artificial color—again, this isn’t generally an issue in a cleaning product.
Glass Cleaners (Rated Best & Good)
This glass cleaner has a simple list of plant-based ingredients that are all considered safe. In addition, vinegar is also included in the formula to help remove grease and grime. The product is biodegradable and is designed to dry quickly, making it convenient to use. Overall, ECOS Glass Cleaner offers a safe and effective way to clean glass and other surfaces without introducing harsh chemicals into your home.
Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Vinegar Wash is a natural cleaning solution that has no ingredients on our list of banned ingredients. The formula of this cleaner consists of vinegar and essential oils, and is free of harsh chemicals. Thanks to the essential oils, it also leaves behind a fresh, clean scent. It is easy to use—mix with water and apply with a cloth or sponge—and it removes dirt, grime, and streaks. Plus, the convenient spray bottle makes it easy to use and reach those hard-to-reach areas.
Thrive Market Glass & Mirror Cleaner is a natural and safe solution for cleaning glass and mirror surfaces. Made with gentle yet powerful ingredients—we found none on our list of banned ingredients—it effectively removes grime and streaks without leaving any harmful chemicals behind.
This biodegradable and non-toxic formula is suitable for use on a variety of surfaces, including windows, mirrors, and glass doors. It is also free of fragrances, making it a great option for those with allergies or sensitivity to strong smells.
Toilet Bowl Cleaners (Rated Best & Good)
ECOS Toilet Cleaner contains a number of ingredients that are generally considered to be safe for use in cleaning products. The main active ingredient is citric acid, which is a natural disinfectant derived from citrus fruits.
Other ingredients in this toilet cleaner include xanthan gum, which is a natural thickening agent that helps to keep the product stable and easy to use, and gluconic acid, which is a natural cleaning agent that helps to remove dirt and grime. Caprylyl/myristyl glucoside is a surfactant, and potassium sorbate is a preservative.
Overall, this is the best toilet cleaner we reviewed and comes recommended.
Thrive Market Toilet Bowl Cleaner is a natural and effective way to clean and freshen your toilet. Made with plant-based ingredients, this cleaner is free of harsh chemicals and is safe for use in homes with children and pets.
It’s easy to use—apply the cleaner to the inside of the toilet bowl, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub and flush to rinse away grime and bacteria. The powerful formula works to remove stains and eliminate odors, leaving your toilet sparkling clean and smelling fresh. Plus, the convenient squeeze bottle makes it easy to apply the cleaner exactly where you need it.
Bathroom Cleaners (Rated Best & Good)
Like many other Aunt Fannies products, their bathroom cleaner gets our recommendation. It’s formulated from a list of clean ingredients, and contains Texas cedar wood oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, and lavandin oil, which provide a refreshing scent and may have antimicrobial properties.
The vinegar base makes for a natural cleaning agent and the plant-derived surfactants are biodegradable and non-toxic. For these reason, we can recommend this bathroom cleaner.
The main active ingredient in Attitude’s Bathroom Cleaner is caprylyl/myristyl glucoside, which is a surfactant. It’s a good natural alternative to ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
Terpineol acetate and tetrahydrolinalool are both fragrance chemicals used to give the product its pleasant smell. that are used to give the product a pleasant smell, but some people may be sensitive to them or have allergies to them. It is worth noting that the use of fragrances in cleaning products is a common source of concern for people who are looking for more natural or hypoallergenic options.
All things considered, this is a good bathroom cleaner that you can feel safe using in your home.
ECOS’s bathroom cleaner gets our seal of approval for its list of clean ingredients. It is formulated with a blend of plant-derived surfactants and essential oils, including tea tree oil and lavender oil. For these reasons, we can recommend it as a safe and non-toxic bathroom cleaner.
Floor Cleaners (Rated Best & Good)
This is a natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable solution that effectively cleans and deodorizes hardwood, tile, and other types of flooring. This eco-friendly formula is made with plant-based ingredients and contains no harsh chemicals, making it safe for use around children and pets. The vinegar wash leaves floors sparkling clean and streak-free, while its subtle scent leaves a refreshing and inviting aroma. This versatile cleaner is suitable for use on all types of flooring and is easy to use: simply dilute with water and mop or spray directly onto the surface.
Begley’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner is made in the USA and is an all-natural, plant-based formula designed to clean and protect your hardwood floors effectively. It is fragranced, but the scent comes from essential oils.
This cleaner does contain phenoxyethanol which some users like to avoid. However, this ingredient is relatively benign when used in a floor cleaner. It also contains denatured alcohol, which we give an iffy rating to when used in skincare or beauty—this is not an issue when used in a cleaner, however.
Cleaning Products Products To Avoid
The following products all received a failing grade during our analysis. This means that they all contain entries on our list of banned ingredients.
We were surprised to find that Thrive Market’s All Purpose Cleaner contains Laureth-7. This ingredient has been shown to be harmful to aquatic organisms, and may also be contaminated with potentially cancer-causing chemicals called ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. For this reason, we don’t recommend it.
Mrs. Meyer’s is transparent with their ingredients, including giving us a full list of their fragrance ingredients. However, this product contains the toxic preservative methylisothiazolinone, which has been linked to neurotoxicity and is a strong skin irritant. For this reason, we don’t recommend this product.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
The C12-16 Alcohols in this toilet cleaner have gone through a process known as ethoxylation. One potential concern with ethoxylated ingredients is that they can be contaminated with trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a potentially carcinogenic chemical. However, this is generally only a concern when ethoxylated ingredients are used in products used on the skin,
Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone and Benzyl Benzoate are both synthetic fragrance ingredients. Benzyl benzoate also functions as a preservative. While they are on our list of iffy ingredients, again, this generally shouldn’t matter for a toilet product.
Having said that, there are other toilet cleaners we reviewed with better ingredients, so we couldn’t recommend this one over those.
Method’s Antibac Bathroom cleaner contains SLS, much like their toilet bowl cleaner. It also contains fragrance, and there is no indication that it’s even natural, let alone disclosing what the fragrance ingredients are.
For these reasons, we can’t recommend it.
Seventh Generation’s bathroom cleaner unfortunately contains SLS. When SLS is washed down the drain and enters waterways, it can have harmful effects on aquatic organisms. For this reason, we can’t recommend it over other bathroom cleaners.
In Summary – The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners
Below is a quick summary of all of the best non-toxic cleaners we found without any questionable ingredients. Any of these is a safe purchase.
All Purpose Cleaners With Safe Ingredients
Toilet Bowl Cleaner