My Favourite Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

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If you’re anything like me or Mrs Hinch, transforming a murderous scene of mess into an expertly-disinfected workspace gets your endorphin pistons firing like a millennial’s on molly.

Keeled over on the sidewalk with sick, I wondered what the impact of chemical cleaning products is on the health of humans.

In fact I don’t just love neat and cleanly spaces, I need them to function normally. I absolutely can’t get creative until I’ve Virgo-fied my space entirely, and dirt and mess in general make me weak with anxiety. But it wasn’t until I got a severe migraine from the chemical cleaning products used at my office that I started to wonder what exactly household cleaning products are made of.

Image credit: @ecowithem_

I was so dizzy I couldn’t see straight. I had to ask my colleagues to open their windows and air out the chemical fumes while I took myself around the block in an attempt to re-stabilise.

Keeled over on the sidewalk with sick, grasping for embers of normality, I frantically began to wonder what the impact of chemical cleaning products is on the health of humans, and that of our planet. After all, all drains lead to the ocean.

One would assume that the chemicals commonly found in cleaning products would be extensively researched for their effect on human health before they were allowed to live under our kitchen sinks, right? Well, you know what they say about assumptions…

Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects.


According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), it turns out that government agencies and independent research institutions haven’t properly evaluated the safety of a whole host of substances commonly found in name-brand cleaning products.

They did their own investigation on more than 2000 cleaning supplies on the American market (most of which contain many of the same ingredients as conventional cleaning products found all around the world) and – surprise, surprise – they found that many products contained substances linked to serious health issues:

  • Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.
  • Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
  • Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.
  • Some cleaners can cause chemical burns and poisonings as well as less severe irritations and allergies. Severe physical reactions signal that consumers should take care anytime they use these products.
  • Despite these health concerns, cleaning product labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health. – EWG.
Image credit: @ecowithem_

Sure, noteworthy focus has been given to chemicals suspected of causing cancer, but there have been far too few resources dedicated to the study of those that may prove toxic to the nervous/hormone systems, the brain, and other vital organs. Pretty much all of the parts of us that are integral to the business of being alive.

TBH, I’m not even surprised that the long-term health consequences of chronic exposure to potent chemicals in cleaning products hasn’t been properly explored in most countries. Why? Because the people who most commonly use these products are those employed as cleaning staff – commonly People of Colour. Institutionalised racism, whassup?

And beyond the long-term health consequences, there are an uncanny amount of children poisoned by household chemicals every year. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 300 children aged between 0 and 19 treated in emergency rooms for poisoning PER DAY in the US alone,

Long story long, I’ve since changed all the products used in my home to be non-toxic, all-natural, and as kind to human health as they are to that of our delicate planet’s. Cue…

my favourite South African cleaning products

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WHAT? Simple Truth Eco-Friendly Multipurpose Cleaner is made with only naturally-derived cleaning ingredients and no artificial colours. It’s a scientifically-formulated, eco-friendly multi-purpose cleaner that smells fruity, cleans superbly, and won’t kill anything in the ocean. Yay!

COST? R27,99 for 500ml from Checkers.

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WHAT? Simple Truth (yes, I LOVE this brand) All Purpose Cleaner is a cream-type version of the Simple Truth Eco-Friendly Multipurpose Cleaner, except it’s more powerful (say goodnight stubborn grease) and is used like Handy Andy/the like.

One time, I had to buy Handy Andy (chemical-laden AF) because Checkers was out of stock of Simple Truth All Purpose Cleaner. My domestic worker was coughing SO much while using it and I asked her if it was because of the Handy Andy and she said yes, adding that it hurts her hands a lot as well. She concurs that Simple Truth All Purpose Cleaner is much less harsh on the body, yet equally as effective at cleaning. ‘Nuff said.

COST? R32,99 for 750ml – this lasts me well over a month and is used all over the house. You can get it at Checkers.

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WHAT? Dude. I used to HATE doing dishes not because I was lazy, but because Sunlight gave me terribly painful eczema at worst, and hands too tender to wipe my own butt at best. I’m so glad I finally found Simple Truth Dishwashing Liquid!

Like the entire Simple Truth range, it smells so yum and cleans super well. My only qualm is that it doesn’t last as long as Sunlight, but hey… at least I can wipe my butt without cringing. #NoSoreHandsHere

COST? R34,99 for 500ml from Checkers.

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WHAT? I actually took the longest to change from Ariel to Simple Truth Laundry Liquid Concentrate because my significant other was convinced that eco-friendly products don’t work and it would damage his clothes.

Eventually I convinced him to give it a try and we haven’t looked back since. Our clothes come out clean, fresh, 100% free from damage, and smelling quite literally edible. As with all Simple Truth products, it’s free of harsh chemicals and totally non-toxic. Win!

COST? This gem is competitively priced at just R64,99 for 900ml. Get yours at Checkers.

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WHAT? PnP Green Dishwashing Liquid forms part of Pick ‘n’ Pay’s Green range: an eco-conscious, certified-vegan collection of household cleaning products. It works fantastically and lasts a little longer than Simple Truth’s.

COST? R28,99 for 500ml. Get yours at PnP.

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WHAT? Baked some oily-ass veggies and can’t get your oven tray clean? Got a pot full of day-old grease you’ve been avoiding? Perhaps a greasy ex-boyfriend you can’t seem to shake? PnP Oven Cleaner is ready AF for the task at hand, whatever it may be. Just a few sprays and some time to soak will do the trick. Bu’bye grease balls!

COST? R37,99 for 500ml from PnP. I’ve had mine for yonks now, it really does last!

And if you’re looking to go even more eco-conscious, you can get packageless eco-friendly cleaning products from Nude Foods and Shop Zero. All you need to do is take your own containers to their store (they sell jars and the like too if you don’t have your own), fill them up on site, and pay for the amount you’ve taken. Easy-peasy and so planet pleasing! I’m going to give them a try when my currents run out.

Most Spars and Woolworths’ also offer a variety of different eco-friendly cleaning products – the ones above are just the most affordable and effective ones I’ve found so far. Please feel free to get in touch with me and tell me about your own finds and I’ll add them to this list. Happy cleaning!

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