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Less Toxic Cleaning Products

Jump to Recommended Cleaning Products Table


“If you can't clean something with the following items, it's not worth keeping! You may have to change your definition of what "clean" is (white clothes don't have to be sparkling white to be clean), but these products will most likely do the job you need done:

Baking soda

Grapefruit seed extract (a natural germ killer available at your health food store!)

Lemon juice

White vinegar

Club soda

Bon Ami scouring powder


You'd be amazed at how effective these cheap, widely available items are! Your cleaning budget can be cut drastically! These are the only cleaning products I have in my home, and they have done every bit as well as the expensive cleaners I used to have.”  From the MCS For Beginners website.


Sources for Less Toxic Products

Grocery Stores: The great thing about the least toxic cleaning products (baking soda, vinegar, borax, and Bon-Ami ) is that they are available at grocery stores.  Many stores also carry some of the less-toxic product lines, such as 7th Generation. Tide Free, and other products labeled “no added scents or dyes” are also becoming more widely available at grocery and department stores.


 Mail order sources specializing in products for the chemically sensitive and that advertise in our newsletter are:  Needs,  The Living Source, and Janices (not on-line, call  800-janices, also try Safe Shopper's Directory.                          


Eco-clean in Phoenix: mail order and once- a-week truck delivery to Tucson:


Chemical Composition of Household Products;  If your still  not convinced about the toxicity of cleaning products see the Household Products Data Base from National Institute of Health for the chemical “ingredients” of household products and MSDS sheets. Searchable by product.


Less Toxic Cleaning Products Table




Task /Product

Best for MCS

For less sensitive and care takers



Do Not Use

Ivory laundry soap

(it is scented).

Plain Hot Water

Baking soda

Hexametaphosphate (hexa)

Granny’s laundry soaps

Ceramic laundry disks

Borax for laundry[1][1]

To remove fabric finish, try instant milk

Allen’s Detergent

Life Tree Laundry Soap

Trader Joe’s Laundry Soap

7th Generation Detergent

Natural Enzyme spotters

Liseaux Oxygen Bleach

Unscented versions of popular detergents such as

Tide Free, Cheer Free


Fabric Softener:  Do Not Use

Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets, even if unscented

Baking Soda, Vinegar or Hexameta-phosphate – ¼ cup in final rinse

Hanging to dry eliminates most static.



Dishwashing and

General Cleaning


Hot water and Baking soda

Dishwasher – Hexametaphosphate

Granny’s EZ Maid

Dish soaps: 7thGeneration/LifeTree/TraderJoe’s/Allen’s

Dishwasher soap: Allen’s, Dawn Free,

7th Generation, or Trader Joe’s


Heavy Duty Cleaning


Same as for dishes

AFM Super Clean, Allen’s All Purpose Cleaner,

Neolife Rugged Red, Oxyclean, Planet

TSP (odorless, but very caustic: use gloves)



Never combine products containing ammonia

 (e.g. Windex) with products containing bleach

very toxic fumes result

Hot Water


Distilled water with a little dish soap and vinegar.

Windex, etc leave an oily residue: remove with alcohol,

 then use mixture above

Ammonia based cleaners: wipe on, do not spray.



Do Not Use:

Lysol or equivalent


Lemon Juice (oil free)

Hydrogen peroxide

Citricidal Grapefruit seed extract,

or Tea tree oil, a few drops in water

Clorox, if not used in the presence of someone with MCS




Baking soda/salt on tacky rag, Emery stone for hard water

 ring in toilet.

Bon Ami


Descale-it for hard water deposits



Air Fresheners

Do not use ANY spray, wick, candle, plug-in or oil

Substitute cleanliness, airing,

air filtration

To absorb odors, Baking soda, Zeolite crystals


Smells Be Gone


Pest Control

Do Not Use:

commercial pesticides (see Alternative Pest Control



Diatomaceous Earth (do not breathe dust)


Dish soap spray

Alternative Pest Control

7th Generation and Earth Friendly type pesticide sprays (non-aerosol).


Carpets[3][3] -  Do Not Use commercial no-steam cleaning methods or soaps sold with machines at the grocery

Remove carpets

Sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum

Steam cleaning with no soaps and fan drying (commercial process)

Granny’s Carpet shampoo

AFM carpet shampoo

Acceptable laundry soaps

[rinse and dry thoroughly to prevent mold]








 Copyright 2001-2010, HEAL of Southern Arizona.  All rights reserved.    Updated 1/12/2010


[1][1] Borax can stop the microbe action in your septic tank.  Use sparingly or not at all if you have a septic tank. 

[2][2] Disinfectants:  Lysol and similar disinfectants are unnecessary and are highly toxic and carcinogenic.

[3][3] Carpet Cleaning – Inexpensive commercial carpet cleaning methods, rented carpet cleaners and carpet soaps leave a carpet in worse condition than before cleaning – they clean surface dirt, but leave an oily, artificially scented residue, which causes the carpet to compress and retain soil, so it soon looks worse.  The carpet will not dry thoroughly because of this residue and any water that seeps into the carpet below surface level will run down into the padding and under-floor, allowing mold to grow. If you are having your carpet cleaned, be sure that it is dried by large fans and heaters.  The Chem-Dri system is obviously a chemical system and it is generally not tolerable to those with MCS.