10 Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaners for a Toxic-Free Home

Try one of these eco-friendly all-purpose cleaners: The dilutable ones will save you money, the larger sizes help you cut back on waste, and the natural ingredients mean your house will finally be clean without the harmful chemicals. In the war against germs and grime in our homes, we've become a people reliant on a dizzying array of cleaning products to help us do our dirty work. And in our crazed determination to annihilate every last blip of bacteria and dot of dust, with as little effort as possible, we often turn to harsh products that are hard on the planet and literally dizzying ... not to mention other ill health effects ranging from asthma and skin irritation to reproductive harm and cancer. Fortunately there are companies that make eco-friendly products that don't come with a toxic right hook. The following all-purpose cleaners all scored grades of A in Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning; a well-researched and respected guide with safety ratings to over 2,500 products. While there are plenty more listed in the guide, the ones here are tried-and-true and widely available. Happy healthy cleaning!

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Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner

credit: Arm & Hammer

Arm & Hammer baking soda may be the super-duper all-purpose miracle cleaner, but Super Washing Soda is pretty marvelous as well. While it's main selling point is as a natural detergent booster and freshener, it can also be used all around the home. It can be used for everything from laundry, tile and grout, toilets, sinks, stainless steel, bathtubs, refrigerators, and outdoor furniture to garage floors, silver, upholstery, and more. Like its cousin, baking soda, washing soda also a natural product and completely free of fragrance and phosphate; just don't try baking with it.

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biokleen All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate

credit: biokleen

While this company makes specific cleaning products for specific parts of the house, they also make this super concentrated all-purpose cleaner – one ounce of cleaner gets mixed with one gallon of water, which means fewer resources consumed for packaging and shipping. The cleaner relies on citrus and grapefruit seed extract to clean and is gentle enough for most surfaces. No artificial fragrance, colors, phosphate, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum solvents, butyl, glycol ether, SLES, EDTA, or EPA priority pollutants, hurray!

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Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

credit: Bon Ami

A scouring powder just like grandma used. In fact, she very well might have used Bon Ami given that it's been around since 1886. A mix of biodegradable cleaning agents, with feldspar and limestone for abrasive action, plus washing soda and a touch of baking soda for good measure makes for a bang-up all-natural cleaner. It's one commercial cleaner that my cleaning cabinet is always in supply of! It's hard to deny the charm of Bon Ami's origin story. From their website:

Bon Ami was originally developed as a gentle alternative to the gritty quartz-based scouring powders on store shelves in the 1880s. An enterprising young man noticed that the tools used to separate the unused feldspar mineral from the harder quartz were as shiny as silver. Bon Ami was born taking that waste product — feldspar — and mixing it with soap to make a cleanser that polished away dirt and stains without scratching. These days we call that “zero waste.” Back then it was a thrifty way to make a better cleanser.

The company also places emphasis on using high post-consumer waste content in its packaging and labels and adhesive that are the most compatible with the recycle stream.

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Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner

credit: Dr. Bronner's

From the venerable Dr. Bronner's, Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner is a concentrated hard-surface all-purpose cleaner that is, like most Dr. B products, wildly versatile. Like, for laundry, countertops, mopping the floor, or even mixing with baking soda to make a powerful scouring agent for bathtubs and sinks, notes literature for Sal Suds. "It is made with plant-based surfactants and natural fir needle and spruce essential oils (no cheap, harsh pine stump oil), without any synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives. Perfect for general household cleaning (dishes, floors, laundry, etc.), it cleans and rinses with exceptional power, yet it is mild and gentle on the skin," the promise. Also, bonus points for being 100 percent cruelty-free, as certified by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, and it will biodegrade rapidly after doing its job.

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Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus All Purpose Everyday Cleaner

credit: Ecos

Very orange-y! But not because of a host of synthetic chemicals. Made by Ecos, the company notes that this plant-powered cleaner can be used on sealed stone, hardwood floors, painted surfaces, linoleum, vinyl, porcelain, chrome, stainless steel, wood – almost any surface you can think of. Ingredients include: Water, caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-derived surfactant), citric acid (plant-derived ph adjuster), potassium sorbate (plant-derived, food grade preservative), alcohol denat. (corn-derived solvent), limonene (orange) oil.

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Heinz Distilled White Vinegar

credit: Heinz

Baking soda's best friend, vinegar. Like baking soda, vinegar can be used to clean more things than you can probably think of. From windows and dishes to bathtubs and clothes, it's a workhorse. Avoid using on natural stones surfaces and other surfaces that are sensitive to acids, but aside from that, go forth and clean to your heart's content.

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Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner: Lemongrass Citrus

credit: Seventh Generation

Another major player in the eco-friendly product market, Seventh Generation has a long reputation for wholesome products. This disinfecting cleaner comes with some pretty lofty claims: The company says that it kills 99.99 percent of household germs, botanically, including specifically: Influenza A virus, H1N1, Rhinovirus type 37 (the common cold virus), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli on hard, nonporous surfaces. I am wary about such disinfecting power, but this is based on their "patented disinfecting technology based on Thyme Oil," and the product does pass muster with the strict evaluators at EWG, so I'm willing to tone down my skepticism here and admit it sounds pretty impressive.

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Simple Green Naturals Glass & Surface Care, Rosemary Mint

credit: Simple Green

Simple green has been in the all-natural cleaner game since 1975 when it launched with an all-natural product for industrial settings. This glass and surface cleaner is meant for reflective surfaces and is made from 100 percent naturally-derived ingredients with plant-based surfactants. It does not contain ammonia or rubbing alcohol and the fragrance comes from rosemary oil, spearmint oil, grapefruit oil, and orange oil. It's orally non-toxic and readily biodegradable as per The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

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Whole Foods Market All Purpose Cleaner, Citrus

credit: Whole Foods Market

Another cleaner to earn an A from EWG is Whole Foods' citrus all-purpose spray, which gets its fresh scent from 100 percent natural essential oils. Whole Foods has an Eco-Scale rating system that includes lists of ingredients they deem unacceptable. "Our Eco-Scale rating system is the first cleaning-products standards of any retailer and the most comprehensive standards of any "green cleaners" standards-setting group," notes the company. "Third-party agencies evaluate each product for environmental impact, safety, efficacy, source and animal testing." Given the government's sadly lackadaisical approach to regulating chemicals used by consumers, at least some companies are taking accountability into their own hands.

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Baking Soda

credit: Arm & Hammer

The classic that pushes all the right buttons: One-ingredient; all-natural; safe enough to be eaten; inexpensive; and effective! Works for everything from deodorizing to cleaning pots and mattresses to scouring grout and linoleum floors and more. See 13 baking soda uses to clean almost everything and when you're done cleaning your house with it, put it to use in your beauty routine.