Safe All-Purpose Cleaner Guide

Written by:

Maia James

04/15/2020

All-Purpose Cleaner

1. Attitude / 2. Aunt Fannie’s / 3. Branch Basics / 4. CleanWell / 5. Eco-Me / 6. Force of Nature / 7. MamaSuds

Natural all-purpose cleaner is the bottle I reach for most often (besides maybe the wine bottle, hehehe).

My kids are charged with cleaning more and more as they get older, and I love to be able to hand them a spray bottle of natural all-purpose cleaner and a cloth and tell them to get to work on everything from spots on the hardwood floors to the top of the stove.

Best Natural All-Purpose Cleaner

My favorite natural all-purpose cleaner is MamaSuds. It smells amazing, cuts the grease on our stove-top, and even has a blend of oils that have been shown to kill viruses.

  • MamaSuds All-Purpose Cleaner
    $12.50 or subscribe and save up to 5%

With my kids as the cleaners, I have to be extra sure there is nothing concerning in the bottle I hand them. They like a generous spray, and so I need to feel okay about them inhaling lots of it, getting it on their hands, and leaving it all over surfaces.

What’s Wrong with Most All-Purpose Cleaners?

Unfortunately, there is good reason to concerned about the toxicity of most household cleaning products. Ranging from phthalates to chlorine, the ingredients in many all-purpose cleaners are linked to everything from hormone disruption to cancer.

Studies show that long-term exposure to spray cleaning produces increases the risk of lung damage as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!

Some of the worst ingredients in most all-purpose cleaners include:

  • Neurotoxic preservatives, including ones found in natural all-purpose cleaners, like methylisothiazolinone and benziosothiazolinone.
  • Toxic cleaning agents like 2-butoxyethanol, which is found in many multi-purpose and glass cleaners and is linked to kidney and liver damage.
  • Synthetic fragrance, which usually includes hormone-disrupting phthalates in the undisclosed ingredients.
  • Antibacterial ingredients, which can be totally toxic (such as bleach or triclosan), but which can also be safe. Thyme oil and citric acid, for instance, will kill bacteria and viruses (including coronavirus).

Another issue with cleaning products is the amount of plastic pollution that they create. For that reason, I’m a big fan of refillable options like this one, although I don’t use this kind exclusively.

bucket

Safe Ingredients in Natural All-Purpose Cleaners

Natural all-purpose cleaners, even those with antibacterial properties, can be totally safe. Here are some of the ingredients you’ll see on the labels:

  • White vinegar.
  • Thyme oil.
  • A blend of various essential oils. Look for cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils for antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • A surfactant or soap, of which castille soap is the safest.
  • A coconut-derived detergent, such a sodium laurel sulfate (I’ll call products with SLS Good Stuff rather than Best Stuff only because of the potential for skin irritation).

Best Stuff

Aspen Clean All Purpose Cleaner

I’ve never tried this one, but doesn’t contain any ingredients of concern. Comment below if you’ve used it and like it!

Cost per ounce: $0.45

Attitude All Purpose Cleaner

This product line is totally safe, but fair warning: unsurprisingly, it smells like vinegar!

Cost per ounce: $0.53

Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar

This affordable, basic cleaner contains only safe, plant-derived ingredients.

Cost per ounce: $0.41

Branch Basics

I love the concept of this brand, because you can purchase concentrated refills rather than large new bottles when you run out. The fact that the ingredients are legitimately clean makes Branch Basics some of the very best stuff.

Use code GIMME10 for 10% off all Branch Basics Starter Kits.

Cost per ounce: $0.14

CleanWell Botanical Disinfectant Spray

The active ingredient here is thymol (thyme oil), which is proven to kill cold, flu, and coronavirus germs. I use this one in our bathroom.

Cost per ounce: $0.37

Eco-Me All-Purpose Cleaner

You’ll always find Eco-Me products in my home, and their natural all-purpose cleaner is one that I feel good letting my kids use.

Cost per ounce: $0.19

Force of Nature All Purpose Cleaner

This is a great earth-friendly option that turns salt, water, and vinegar into a natural all-purpose cleaner that naturally kills germs (including coronavirus).

(40% off + free shipping on bundles with code: NEWYOU40 until Jan 31 )

Cost per ounce: $0.09

Lumion All Surface Disinfectant Spray

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is the magic behind Lumion, which kills viruses and bacteria. Safe to use everywhere in your home, including your baby’s crib.

Cost per ounce: $0.50

MamaSuds All-Purpose Cleaner

This is my go-to, and it features an antibacterial essential oil blend to help disinfect during cleaning.

Cost per ounce: $0.69

Meliora All-Purpose Cleaner Tablets

This entirely toxin-free cleaner gets extra points for being extra Earth-friendly. Just add one tablet to an empty spray bottle and fill with warm water.

Cost per ounce: $0.31

Poofy Home All-Purpose Cleaner

Poofy’s natural all-purpose cleaner contains a nice blend of safe ingredients, including some oils with potential antibacterial/antiviral properties.

Cost per ounce: $0.93

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Good Stuff

My Green Fills

I love how Earth-friendly this brand is. Their products contain sodium benzoate. I’m not particularly worried about this preservative, but it does knock this out of the Best Stuff category.

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

This one contains sodium laurel sulfate, but I’m okay with that ingredient in products that are not applied to my skin. I’m putting this as Good rather than Best Stuff in case some of you are trying to avoid that one ingredient. This contains thymol, which kills the novel coronavirus.

Cost per ounce: $0.24

Sonett All-Purpose Cleanser

I transfer mine into a spray bottle to make it easier to use. Note that this contains sodium laurel sulfate.

Cost per ounce: $0.58

Whole Foods Market All Purpose Cleaner

Like others on this list, this all-purpose cleaner contains SLS.

Cost per ounce: $0.15

Okay Stuff

Babyganics Multi Surface Cleaner

Like many Babyganics products, their all-purpose cleaner contains methylisothiazolinone as a preservative.

Cost per ounce: $0.16

Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner

This one also contains the preservative methylisothiazolinone, but all the rest of the ingredients are safe.

Cost per ounce: $0.20

Earth Friendly Products ECOS All-Purpose Cleaner

I’d feel fine using this one, but it contains potassium sorbate and limonene, both categorized as moderately hazardous by the Environmental Working Group.

Cost per ounce: $0.19

Field Day All-Purpose Cleaner

We can’t call this Good Stuff because it’s got methylisothiazolinone and benziosothiazolinone in it.

Cost per ounce: $0.23

Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner

This contain sbenzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (both synthetic preservatives with neurotoxic properties).

Cost per ounce: $0.20

Bad Stuff

Lysol’s lines of all purpose cleaners, even the ones that sound decent, like “Hydrogen Peroxide All Purpose Cleaner,” contain toxic ingredients like synthetic fragrances. What’s curious is why EWG gives many of the Lysol cleaners a B rating!

Other unsurpising bad brands include Mr. CleanClorox, and Pledge.

Sneaky Stuff

Biokleen Spray & Wipes All Purpose Cleaner

This one also contains laureth-7.

Cost per use: $0.41

Citra Solv Multipurpose Cleaner

Contains laureth-7, which is often contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane and the aforementioned methylisothiazolinone.

Cost per use: $0.52

J.R. Watkins All Purpose Cleaner

Contains laureth-7, which is often contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane and the aforementioned methylisothiazolinone.

Cost per use: $0.52

Method All-Purpose Cleaner

Method’s various all purpose cleaners contain synthetic fragrance (although they claim to be free of phthalates). They also contain laureth-1, which may be contaminated with 1, 4-dioxane. I personally think everything made by method smells way too strong and artificial, but I know some people really love it.

Cost per use: $0.13

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Everyday Cleaner

Like all products in this line, the all-purpose cleaner contains synthetic fragrance.

Cost per use: $0.27

Puracy

Like all products in this line, the all-purpose cleaner contains synthetic fragrance.

Cost per use: $0.27

Don’t see your all-purpose cleaner in any of the Good, Okay, Bad, or Sneaky categories? Comment below and let us know!

Stay Sane,

Maia, Founder & CEO

All-Purpose Cleaners

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

Leave a Reply

  1. Claire Avatar
    Claire

    Doesn’t the cleanwell product listed above contain SLS? I just read it on the back of the product where the ingredients are listed. Confused as to why it got a “best” rating? Thanks.

  2. James Avatar

    Thank you for letting me know. Previously, I would never have thought that the usual universal remedy can cause allergies, but this happened to my son. Therefore, now we use only safe products and one of those that we used was Eco-Me. I love the composition of this product and that it’s really eco-friendly so I don’t have to worry. Thank you for your selection, I will definitely try a few more products from this list.

  3. SANDRA GOMEZ Avatar
    SANDRA GOMEZ

    what about the cleaner soul and molly’s suds?
    Thank you!

  4. Sophie Avatar
    Sophie

    Any insight on Simple green?

  5. Erika Avatar
    Erika

    Hi there! I was wondering about Smartclean toy disinfectant spray. It seems to be a saline based product the naturally kills bacteria but I was wondering if it really was ‘good stuff’ and safe to use on baby toys. Thanks!

  6. Gina Avatar
    Gina

    Curious why so many natural minded bloggers, websites, instagram influencers, etc are all recommending Branch Basics? One of their ingredients in the concentrate is rated a D by EWG, sodium phytate. Can you share your thoughts on this?

  7. Allison Avatar
    Allison

    How do you rank Everspring? Also, limonene is a terpene produced by plants and even present in essential oils. It is not particularly concerning as an ingredient.

  8. Jamie Avatar
    Jamie

    Have you reviewed any cleaning products from Young Living, like their Thieves line?

  9. Katie Avatar
    Katie

    Dang! I’ve been using puracy for a while now. Time to switch!

  10. Leanne Whetstone Avatar
    Leanne Whetstone

    What do you know about Thieves cleaner by Young Living?

  11. Kim Avatar
    Kim

    Thoughts on Dr Bronners soap and water as an all purpose cleaner?

  12. Tina Avatar
    Tina

    Any favorite disinfectant wipes? Right now we use seventh generation. Also for covid-19 what is your favorite epa approved disinfectant?

    1. Katy Leute Avatar
      Katy Leute

      The seventh generation lemongrass multipurpose cleaner kills covid19 and we love it. It comes in spray and wipes!!

  13. Robin J Avatar
    Robin J

    So sad to find Better Life only on the Okay list, had no idea of the bad preservative. Been using it for years, guess it’s time for another switch!

  14. Marina Avatar
    Marina

    What do you think of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds?

  15. Kel Avatar
    Kel

    Thanks for the guide!! What about fit organic cleaner and degreaser?

  16. Karen Guzowski Avatar
    Karen Guzowski

    I’ve been using Happy Place by Beekman 1802. They have a clean seal from HSN, for whatever that’s worth. It works pretty good.

  17. Denise Avatar
    Denise

    Great resource- thank you!
    I love products from Meliora – I’ve tried their laundry powders and all-purpose cleaner. They are really trying to minimize single-use plastics, too, which I love.
    Website: MelioraMeansBetter.com

  18. Sumiyah Avatar
    Sumiyah

    Hey! Thanks for this guide!!
    Was curious about Aunt Fannies Microcosmic line? As well as Counter Culture, and Trinature?