Cleaning Products: Natural vs. Chemicals

Most of us want a clean and healthy living space but are “clean” and “healthy” mutually exclusive? In order to shed some more light on the matter, here’s a rundown on cleaning products, as well as the differences between natural and chemical.

Are chemical cleaning products harmful? 

If a product’s label says something along the lines of “Avoid Contact with Skin” or “Don’t Inhale Fumes,” it’s there for a reason because the product is toxic. With research showing that some fumes from cleaning products could trigger asthma attacks, it’s vital you use them as safely as possible. 

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever use chemical cleaning products, but just be mindful when you do. Ensure you take precautions, such as:

  • Only using them with the windows and doors open to allow for ventilation.
  • Wear high-quality gloves so the product isn’t able to touch your skin at all.
  • Place plants around your home (these can be natural air detoxifiers). 

Effects of chemical products on children 

If a product is toxic for adults, it’s worse for children who are still growing and developing. Harsh chemicals can affect that growth and development, perhaps with serious long-term consequences. In addition, little ones are allergy-prone and have a harder time eliminating toxins.

Some chemical cleaning products are even dangerous for pets, who may lick their paws after walking across a chemically cleaned floor and inject something harmful. 

Advantages and disadvantages of chemical cleaning products

Chemical cleaning products are famous for one main reason: they work. But is the risk worth the reward? Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using chemical cleaners before making up your mind.


Many detergents, although derived from petrochemicals, do clean better than soap. Enzymes defeat protein-based stains; bleaches whiten shirts and sinks. Although they can be stinky and corrosive, scouring powders and oven cleaners eliminate crusty food stains. If you’re looking to do some deep cleaning, then these products will get the job done. 

They are also widely accessible. You can walk into almost any general shop near your home and be able to find a range of chemical cleaners. This accessibility is perhaps the biggest reason many people choose this type of product rather than exploring the other options. 


The main disadvantage of chemical cleaners is the harsh ingredients and the way they can affect us. Breathing in an assortment of chemicals is never going to be healthy, so any way we can minimise this, the better. 

As well as this, chemical cleaning products are often harmful to the environment. Because some ingredients have not had enough testing, the effects are unknown. Once they have entered the water cycle, they could go on to pollute streams and rivers.

Some harmful chemicals to look out for when choosing your household cleaners are: 

  • Ammonia – This can irritate your eyes as well as affect people living with respiratory issues. 
  • 2-Butoxyethanol – You shouldn’t get this anywhere near your eyes and skin as it is a powerful irritant. Some studies have shown it even affects reproductive problems.  
  • Coal tar dye – This is thought to cause many health problems such as cancer and impairing the immune system. 
  • Monoethanolamine, diethanolamine and triethanolamine – These chemicals are thought to have properties that can cause cancer, alongside other 
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates – In lab tests, this chemical has shown to aid the production of breast cancer cells.
  • Phosphates – These are particularly damaging to the environment as they can reduce the oxygen levels in water, thus harming aquatic wildlife. 
  • Sodium hydroxide – Long-term exposure to this chemical can cause a whole host of respiratory problems. 

Pros and cons of natural cleaning products

Even though their use may require more time and elbow grease than chemicals, natural cleaning products are growing in popularity because they’re safe and eco-friendly.


Some people assume that natural cleaning products could be difficult to get ahold of without visiting specialist shops, many ready-made natural items are becoming more commercially available.

If you cannot find any natural cleaning products in your local shops, then just go homemade! Many natural cleaners can be created easily and cheaply in your kitchen using vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and baking soda. In fact, here’s a recipe to make your own glass cleaner: 


  • 500ml water
  • 120ml white or cider vinegar
  • 60ml cup rubbing alcohol (it needs to be 70% concentration)
  • A couple of drops of your favourite essential oil for a pleasant smell (optional)


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl 
  2. Pour them in a spray bottle (you could use any old spray bottle you have lying around) 
  3. Clean on a colder day to avoid the solution drying too quickly and streaking


However, cleaning grime with natural products may take time and work. This is because they don’t have the harsh chemicals that can quickly break down dirt and require a bit more elbow grease to fully clean the materials.  

Therefore, the best practice is to clean quickly and often. For example, rather than scouring your bath every two weeks, keep on top of it by giving it a quick daily wipe-down with your natural cleaning solution.

Should I use chemical or natural cleaning products? 

It’s entirely your decision about which type of cleaning product you should opt for. You may have a personal preference for one type over the other, which is completely fine. After all, it’s your house, your choice. 

However, if you are still trying to decide whether you should use chemical or natural cleaning products, there are some factors you should take into consideration when making your choice. If you choose to go natural, be prepared to clean more often and do more work. If you choose chemical products, be sure you read warning labels and take all necessary precautions before trying them out. It is also wise to test these products out in an area away from any children or pets. 

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