Eco-Tip: 3 Ways to Take Your Household Cleaners from Child-Threat to Child-Safe

“Nearly 12,000 children under age 5 go to the emergency room each year because of injuries caused by household cleaning products, according to a study in today’s Pediatrics”


-USA Today article, Spray Cleaners pose poison hazards to babies, toddlers


It’s not that we set up our kitchens to poison kids. But sometimes we overlook obvious problems. In many homes household cleaners are stored in a cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. And some of the cleaners are in brightly colored spray bottles that capture kids’ attention.  In light of a recent USA Today article citing a study in the medical journal Pediatrics documenting the poison hazards spray cleaners pose to babies and toddlers, it’s obvious that individuals and parents alike need to start thinking about using non-toxic alternatives to chemical-based products, like home cleaners.

Just look at some of the nasty chemicals present in home cleaning products!  Not only can they cause immediate illnesses in the children who swallow them, but they can also cause significant long-term health problems:

–          A common disinfectant spray contains triethanolamine, which causes genetic damage.

–          A common kitchen cleaner contains bleach (sodium hypochlorite), which causes genetic damage.  But wait; there’s more:  it also damages the immune system.

–          A common window cleaner contains 2-butoxyethanol, which is science-speak for “chemical that causes miscarriages and tumors.”

Given the findings of Pediatrics study, parents should be sure to keep cleaning products out of their children’s reach. Even better, avoid the toxic products altogether!

We’ve written about these toxic home cleaning chemicals before and just how hazardous they can be.    Now it’s time to think of the alternatives.  Instead of using harsh chemical-laden home cleaning product (full of mostly untested chemical with unpronounceable names), you can make your own homemade cleaners.  They are almost always cheaper than what you can buy in the store, and they don’t have nearly as many tongue twister ingredients.

Using non-toxic, natural disinfectant ingredients—like white vinegar and baking soda—allows you to avoid all those dangerous toxic ingredients in spray cleaners that are so harmful to children’s health, especially in places where your kids can crawl or activate the nozzles of spray bottles.

So take action: replace those nasty blue cleaners that pose threats to your children, and use our safe, effective non-toxic cleaner recipes instead:

1.  Floor Cleaner

  • ¼ cup liquid soap
  • 2 gallons of water

Combine the liquid soap and water in a pail, and wash as usual. You can follow this up with a vinegar rinse. Add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to 2 gallons of water in a pail, and use this mixture to rinse. The vinegar odor goes away quickly.

2.  Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • ½ cup liquid soap
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Mix the liquid soap and baking soda. Then add the water and vinegar (it will fizz). A 22-oz squirt bottles makes a good container. Squirt inside the toilet, and clean with a toilet brush. Squirt on the seat, outside, and rim as well, and use a rag to clean.

3.  Tub and Tile Cleaner


  • 1 2/3 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup liquid soap
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Mix the baking soda with soap in a wide mouth jar. Add the water, and mix thoroughly. Add the vinegar last, and mix (it will fizz). To use, scoop the scrub with a rag or sponge, and use to scrub the tub and walls. For tough stains use a scrub brush. Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning corners, and many stores carry narrow brushes made especially for cleaning corners in showers. You can follow with a rinse made from equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water.

For more useful home cleaning tips and recipes, click here.