• Red Headed Beast

Natural Cleaning Solutions

We are a society scared of all germs so it is standard to clean with bleach, 409, windex, clorox wipes, lysol spray until we live in a sterile environment or as close as we possibly can get to it. While germs are a whole other article topic, did you know complete sterilization of an environment actually can be detrimental to our companion’s health? (1) No, we don’t want them living in filth by any means but not all bacteria and micros are bad, in fact many are good and help to stimulate and mount a quality microbiome that promotes a healthy immune system so that we CAN fight off the bad bacteria (2). From mopping solution and window cleaner, to shampoos and laundry detergent, homes are filled with products that are actually considered indoor pollutants. How is this possible?! Aren’t they regulated? Aren’t they considered safe?


On a regular basis the average home contains almost 100 chemical ingredients that are known to affect breathing (3,4) promote cancer (5, 6), impair reproduction (7, 8, 9) and hormone function (10, 11, 12) among many other side effects. While exposure to these ingredients occasionally may not be as serious, effects are cumulative and when combined can spell trouble. Furthermore, if you are a clean freak or have a cattery like I and are required to clean on a daily basis, you expose yourself and your even more sensitive companion animals to very dangerous ingredients.

Some cleaning products and their ingredients can cause reactions that occur very quickly such as respiratory difficulties, chemical burns, headaches etc. Repeated exposure can cause toxicity to build up within the body’s tissues.

In addition to concerns in the chemicals in products and their side effects we must concern ourselves with the flammability and corrosiveness as well as volatile organic compounds these products contain.


Known side effects of many of these chemicals include: Reproductive concerns such as birth defects and reduced sperm count

Cancer Irritation of the eyes Lung/respiratory complications Provoke pre-existing conditions like asthma

Skin Irritation

MAIN OFFENDERS TO LOOK OUT FOR Note keep in mind some of these offenders may not be listed as is, some ingredients like phthalates is a category. There are over 20 different phthalates under various names. Phthalates

These are products that have a fragrance. Consumers may see the word “fragrance” labelled but due to proprietary regulations companies do not have to tell you what these fragrances are which includes not labelling phthalates on their product (13). Often health problems result from inhalation or absorption through the skin of these chemicals. Absorption can be very dangerous as the skin has no protective safeguards so once absorbed through the skin it can go right to the organs. Side effects of phthalates include:

Endocrine disruption

Reduced sperm count

Trigger breathing difficulties including asthma


Perchloroethylene or “PERC”

PERC is found in common spot removers as well as carpet and furniture cleaners. Exposure often is through inhalation.

This chemical is a neurotoxin and carcinogen stated by the EPA who also plan to remove its use by 2023 as set forth by various proposals made in California because of these health risks (15, 16).

Triclosan This chemical is a common antibacterial found in soap including hand soap and dishwashing soaps as well as hand sanitizer (17). Because of its antibacterial properties it is known to cause and provoke the growth of drug resistant bacteria. Furthermore Triclosan has been found in many water sources causing contamination (18). Side effects of this chemical include: Endocrine disruption (19) Carcinogenic (20) Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS” QUATS are common in fabric softeners and a lot of typical house cleaners that claim to be antibacterial. Just like the issues caused by Triclosan, the same apply to QUATS including drug resistant bacteria (21). Other side effects include being a skin irritant and a cause for respiratory distress (22). In addition on the more serious side “gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea and vomiting), coma, convulsions, hypotension and death” can also occur (23). 2-Butoxyethanol 2-Butoxyethanol is a solvent found primarily in multipurpose cleaners as well as window and kitchen cleaners. When inhaled it can cause throat irritation as well as: Narcosis Pulmonary edema Severe liver and kidney damage (24) Cancer (25, 26, 27)

Ammonia Ammonia is often found in glass cleaners (as well as metal polishers) and it can cause various respiratory difficulties (28). When combined with bleach, toxic fumes are produced so it is recommended to never mix the two. (29)

Chlorine Chlorine is often found in cleaners used for cleaning toilets, removing mildew, whitening laundry and even in tap water including drinking water and shower/bath water. Via the chemical’s fumes and direct contact with the skin it causes respiratory difficulties and is a known thyroid disruptor (30, 31). These are just some of them most prevalent offenders however there are unfortunately many more to consider when it comes to chemical exposure and indoor pollutants your companions can be exposed to such as candles, plug in air fresheners, incenses, cologne, perfume and much more.

LAWS Unfortunately, according to United States laws and regulations manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients in a product (32, 33, 34, 35). In fact, even products labelled as “green” or “natural” can include harmful ingredients (36). Rebecca Sutton, PhD, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), explains, “In terms of household cleaners, neither ingredients nor products must meet any sort of safety standard, nor is any testing data or notification required before bringing a product to market.” Federal regulations actually do not require safety tests nor set legally defined and enforceable upper limits for the toxic ingredients in products either. In addition there are no long term health studies of these ingredients (37, 38). Unfortunately most “authorities” such as The Consumer Product Safety Commission primarily focus on making sure their packages are child-safe as well as preventing chemical based accidents (37). This is of course important but it doesn’t address the actual ingredients and problems occurring from them when it comes to humans and our companions. While government authorities and research facilities have done a lot of research on these ingredients in connection with cancer, little has been done on their effect on the brain, nervous system, hormone or organ function (37). At the end of the day it is impossible to completely avoid these chemicals however we can think carefully about the products we use and replace them with safer options to reduce our exposure to them.

NATURAL CLEANING INGREDIENTS Distilled White Vinegar DWV a natural solvent containing about 5% acetic acid (39). It is a natural deodorizer, fabric softener and kills most mold (40), mildew, bacteria (41) (42) and viruses (43). It can be used as a multi surface cleaner, in the laundry, in the dishwasher and more (44). White Distilled Vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 80% of viruses and germs and 82% of molds (45). Citrus Fruit and Rind All citrus fruits lemon, limes, oranges, grapefruit etc including their rinds contain limonene with antibacterial properties (46) (47). It is a great degreaser, multipurpose cleaner, removes scum and rust, can be used as a fabric and surface whitener and more. It also adds a nice natural scent. Lemon has a low pH and antibacterial properties. Oranges have antibacterial properties. Limes have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Grapefruit have low pH and are antimicrobial. (48) Herbs Many herbs surprisingly have numerous cleaning properties perfect for adding to your cleaning arsenal. Lavender has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It also is a great deodorizer (49). Rosemary is an antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic (50). Thyme is an antibacterial (51). Borax Borax is a great addition to the laundry, prevents bugs and pests (52, 53), can be used as a dishwashing aid, can unclog drains, clean furniture and more! When mixed with water it turns to hydrogen peroxide (54) so it naturally is fairly safe. It is great for getting rid of odor and can get rid of mildew as well as mold and pests. It can also be used as a window and toilet cleaner! WARNING: Borax can be very poisonous to cats (55, 56, 57) so keep away from your feline friends and make sure it is highly diluted in water if used. Hydrogen Peroxide This natural product is non toxic because it simply dissipates into oxygen and water. It makes a great disinfectant. It can also be used for cleaning counters, sanitizing sponges, cleaning toilets, removing stains, cleaning toys and more! Baking Soda Baking soda has so many uses all over the home not only for crafts and baking but cleaning as well. Sodium bicarbonate is a natural product that has a slight abrasion so it's great for getting up caked on dirt and grim. It is also useful for deodorizing, Baking soda is also an anti fungal and antibacterial (58). OUR RECIPES

Our world is full of toxic chemicals and ingredients many of which we think are safe to use on a regular basis. Unfortunately labeling laws and long term research studies are lacking and us humans and our companions take the brunt when it comes to acute and chronic side effects that can cause lifelong problems. While it may seem like a lost cause there is so much we can do to reduce toxic cleaning products and ingredients in our homes and replacing them with not only inexpensive but effective and natural ingredients.


  1. Bloomfield, S F et al. “Too clean, or not too clean: the hygiene hypothesis and home hygiene.” Clinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology vol. 36,4 (2006): 402-25. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2006.02463.x)

  2. Richtel, Matt. “Your Environment Is Cleaner. Your Immune System Has Never Been So Unprepared.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/health/immune-system-allergies.html.

  3. Richtel, Matt. “Your Environment Is Cleaner. Your Immune System Has Never Been So Unprepared.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/health/immune-system-allergies.html.

  4. Alexander, Roberta. “Lung Damage From Household Cleaning Products.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 7 Aug. 1985, www.healthline.com/health-news/how-your-housecleaning-products-can-be-bad-for-your-lungs.

  5. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2010. Toxicological Review of 1,4-Dioxane (CAS No. 123-91-1) in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. August 2010.) (CARB (California Air Resources Board). 2008. Cleaning Products and Indoor Air Quality: Actions you can take to reduce exposures. www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/cleaning_products_fact_sheet-10-2008.pdf

  6. Casey, Stephanie C et al. “The effect of environmental chemicals on the tumor microenvironment.” Carcinogenesis vol. 36 Suppl 1,Suppl 1 (2015): S160-83. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgv035

  7. (EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2006. Boric Acid/Sodium Borate Salts: HED Chapter of the Tolerance Reassessment Eligibility Decision Document (TRED). PC Codes: 011001 (boric acid), 011102 (sodium tetraborate decahydrate), 011110 (sodium tetraborate pentahydrate), 011112 (sodium tetraborate anhydrous), 011103 (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate), 011107 (disodium octaborate anhydrous), 011104 (sodium metaborate)

  8. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2000. Glycol Ethers Hazard Summary: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air Toxics Division. January 2000.)

  9. (NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2000. NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies 2-Butoxyethanol (CAS NO. 111-76-2) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies). National Toxicology Program technical report series 484: 1-290.)

  10. Diamanti-Kandarakis, Evanthia et al. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement.” Endocrine reviews vol. 30,4 (2009): 293-342. doi:10.1210/er.2009-0002

  11. “Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.” EWG, Environmental Working Group, 28 Oct. 2013, www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors.

  12. Street, Maria Elisabeth et al. “Current Knowledge on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) from Animal Biology to Humans, from Pregnancy to Adulthood: Highlights from a National Italian Meeting.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 19,6 1647. 2 Jun. 2018, doi:10.3390/ijms19061647

  13. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Phthalates.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 5 Dec. 2013, www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates.

  14. Meeker, John D et al. “Phthalates and other additives in plastics: human exposure and associated health outcomes.” Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences vol. 364,1526 (2009): 2097-113. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0268

  15. “Dry Cleaning Alternative Solvents: Health and Environmental Impacts .” Internet Archive Wayback Mechine, Air Resources Board, Mar. 2008, web.archive.org/web/20141114160711/www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/dryclean/alternativesolvts_e.pdf.

  16. IARC monograph. Tetrachloroethylene, Vol. 63, p. 159. Last Updated May 20, 1997. Last retrieved September 15 2020)

  17. Thompson, A.; Griffin, P.; Stuetz, R.; Cartmell, E. (2005). "The Fate and Removal of Triclosan during Wastewater Treatment". Water Environment Research. 77 (1): 63–67. doi:10.2175/106143005X41636. JSTOR 25045839. PMID 15765937

  18. "5 Things to Know About Triclosan". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 15 September 2020.)

  19. Witorsch RJ (2014). "Critical analysis of endocrine disruptive activity of triclosan and its relevance to human exposure through the use of personal care products". Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 44 (6): 535–55. doi:10.3109/10408444.2014.910754. PMID 24897554.

  20. Richtel, Matt. “Your Environment Is Cleaner. Your Immune System Has Never Been So Unprepared.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/health/immune-system-allergies.html.

  21. (Hegstad K, Langsrud S, Lunestad BT, Scheie AA, Sunde M, Yazdankhah SP. Does the wide use of quaternary ammonium compounds enhance the selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance and thus threaten our health?. Microb Drug Resist. 2010;16(2):91-104. doi:10.1089/mdr.2009.0120

  22. Bello, Anila; Quinn, Margaret M.; Perry, Melissa J.; Milton, Donald K. (2009). "Characterization of occupational exposures to cleaning products used for common cleaning tasks-a pilot study of hospital cleaners". Environmental Health. 8: 11. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-11. PMC 2678109. PMID 19327131.

  23. Arugonda, Satish Kumar. “Quaternary Ammonium.” Quaternary Ammonium (PIM G022), 5 Oct. 1998, www.inchem.org/documents/pims/chemical/pimg022.htm.

  24. (Wess, Ms. J., Dr. H. Ahlers, and Dr. S Dobson. "Concise International Chemical Assessment Document 10: 2-Butoxyethanol." World Health Organization, n.d. Web. <http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications/cicad/cicad_10_revised.pdf>

  25. (Air Foam HD Material Data Safety Sheet. Product Safety. AquaClear, Inc. Retrieved 4 June 2010.)

  26. ("Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies 2-Butoxyethanol (CAS NO. 111-76-2) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies)". National Toxicology Program: Department of Health and Human Services. USA.gov. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 4 June 2010.)

  27. “GLYCOL ETHERS (2-METHOXYETHANOL, 2-ETHOXYETHANOL, AND 2- BUTOXYETHANOL).” Environmental Protection Agency , Jan. 2000, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/glycol-ethers.pdf.

  28. Fedoruk, M., Bronstein, R. & Kerger, B. Ammonia exposure and hazard assessment for selected household cleaning product uses. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 15, 534–544 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500431

  29. Morim A, Guldner GT. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; Treasure Island (FL): Apr 24, 2020. Chlorine Gas Toxicity.) (Benzoni T, Hatcher JD. Bleach Toxicity. [Updated 2020 Jun 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441921/)

  30. “Chlorine.” Environmental Protection Agency , Jan. 2000, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/chlorine.pdf.

  31. Foodrevolutionnetwork. “There's Chlorine in Water and You Probably Drink It Every Day - But Is It Harmful?” Food Revolution Network, 8 Apr. 2020, foodrevolution.org/blog/chlorine-water-harmful/.

  32. “Cleaning Supplies: Secret Ingredients, Hidden Hazards.” EWG, www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/weak_regulation/.

  33. Welsh MS, Lamesse M, Karpinski E. 2000. The verification of hazardous ingredients disclosures in selected material safety data sheets. Applied occupational and environmental hygiene 15(5): 409-420.

  34. Nicol AM, Hurrell AC, Wahyuni D, McDowall W, Chu W. 2008. Accuracy, comprehensibility, and use of material safety data sheets: a review. American journal of industrial medicine 51(11): 861-876.

  35. Karstadt ML. 2009. OMG! MSDSs N.G. Rx? The Pump Handle: A water cooler for the public health crowd. February 2, 2009. http://thepumphandle.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/omg-msdss-ng-rx/

  36. “Decoding the Labels.” EWG, www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/decoding_labels/.

  37. Whelan, Jon J, director. Stink!, 27 Nov. 2015.

  38. Steinemann, A., & Walsh, N. Environmental laws and exposure analysis. 2007. Exposure Analysis. CRC Press

  39. "Vinegar". TH Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2020.)

  40. Rogawansamy, Senthaamarai et al. “An evaluation of antifungal agents for the treatment of fungal contamination in indoor air environments.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 12,6 6319-32. 2 Jun. 2015, doi:10.3390/ijerph120606319

  41. Entani E, Asai M, Tsujihata S, Tsukamoto Y, Ohta M. Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157:H7. J Food Prot. 1998;61(8):953-959. doi:10.4315/0362-028x-61.8.953

  42. Cortesia C, Vilchèze C, Bernut A, et al. Acetic Acid, the active component of vinegar, is an effective tuberculocidal disinfectant. mBio. 2014;5(2):e00013-e14. Published 2014 Feb 25. doi:10.1128/mBio.00013-14

  43. Greatorex, Jane S et al. “Effectiveness of common household cleaning agents in reducing the viability of human influenza A/H1N1.” PloS one vol. 5,2 e8987. 1 Feb. 2010, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008987

  44. "My Environment: Cleaning Products", Ontario Ministry of the Environment

  45. Hutchins, Alexandria, "The Effect of Various Vinegars on Infectious Diseases and Body Metabolism" (2019). Undergraduate Honors College Theses 2016-. 54. https://digitalcommons.liu.edu/post_honors_theses/54

  46. Cejudo-Bastante, C; Castro-Mejías, R; Natera-Marín, R; García-Barroso, C; Durán-Guerrero, E (2016). "Chemical and sensory characteristics of orange based vinegar". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 53 (8): 3147–3156. doi:10.1007/s13197-016-2288-7. PMC 5055879. PMID 27784909.

  47. Coelho, E; Genisheva, Z; Oliveira, J. M; Teixeira, J. A; Domingues, L (2017). "Vinegar production from fruit concentrates: Effect on volatile composition and antioxidant activity". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 54 (12): 4112–4122. doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2783-5. PMC 5643795. PMID 29085154.

  48. Oikeh, Ehigbai I et al. “Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates.” Food science & nutrition vol. 4,1 103-9. 30 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1002/fsn3.268

  49. Andrys, D., Kulpa, D., Grzeszczuk, M., Bihun, M., & Dobrowolska, A. (2017). Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. field-grown and propagated in vitro, Folia Horticulturae, 29(2), 161-180. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/fhort-2017-0016

  50. Nieto, Gema et al. “Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, L.): A Review.” Medicines (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,3 98. 4 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3390/medicines5030098

  51. Liu, Qing et al. “Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,6 1283. 16 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18061283

  52. Sierras, Angela et al. “Effectiveness of Boric Acid by Ingestion, But Not by Contact, Against the Common Bed Bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae).” Journal of economic entomology vol. 111,6 (2018): 2772-2781. doi:10.1093/jee/toy260

  53. Logas, D. B. The cat, the flea, and pesticides. Vet. Clin. North Am. Small Anim. Pract. 25, 801–811 (1995).

  54. B.J. Brotherton "Boron: Inorganic Chemistry" in Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry (1994) Ed. R. Bruce King, John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-471-93620-0

  55. Campbell, A.; Chapman, M. Borax. Handbook of Poisoning in Dogs and Cats; Blackwell Science: Oxford, London, 2000; pp 86-89.

  56. Goldfrank LR. Ed. Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2006

  57. Cain WS. Sensory and associated reactions to mineral dusts: sodium borate, calcium oxide, and calcium sulfate. J Occup Environ Hyg. April 2004; 1(4): 222-36.

  58. Potassium bicarbonate (073508) and Sodium bicarbonate (073505) Fact Sheet. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Updated 17 February 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011.

© 2016-2020 by Elysian Bengals. Proudly created with Wix.com

​​Call us:

(717) 917-2767

​Find us: 


North Carolina