Household Cleaners May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity by Altering Gut Bacteria: Canadian Medical Association Journal New Study

Naturopathic Nuggets about Natural Cleaning

  • Natural Cleaning Products have become a critical necessity to protect your family’s health, as growing evidence shows toxicity with detrimental health effects from chemical products.
  • Many household cleaning products release dangerous compounds called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the air. They also contain hidden toxic chemicals that aren’t labelled, and are linked to infertility, birth defects, weight gain, diabetes, cancer, asthma & allergies.
  • A recent study revealed that the highest VOCs per use are released from air freshener sprays & cleaning wipes, while the lowest VOCs were from air freshener plug-ins & body wash.
  • Household chemicals keep their potency in nature, causing potentially lethal health effects to exposed organisms, including fish.
  • Other environmental consequences from household cleaners include accumulation of plastic packaging, non-sustainability of petroleum based chemicals and phosphates that indirectly kill fish.
  • Eco-friendly natural cleaning options include homemade or store bought, although both are as powerful as chemical cleaners, if not less expensive.
  • The Environmental Working Group top natural cleaning products with “A” ratings are listed within.
  • Household products that should be completely avoided due to their inherent toxicity include air fresheners, antibacterial products, fabric softeners & dryer sheets and oven & drain cleaners.
  • Natural cleaning is easy, cheap & powerful. Nature’s arsenal for natural cleaning includes apple cider vinegar, lemon, baking soda & water. These ingredients in various combinations formulate many safe & cheap cleaning alternatives.
  • Natural fibre cloths make even natural solutions unnecessary as they easily remove dust, dirt & grease without chemicals.

Natural Cleaning has become a critical necessity to protect your family’s health. Growing evidence shows toxicity with detrimental health effects from chemical products.  Most of us have grown up using these hazardous products to sterilize our homes, not realizing that we are destroying our health and environment in the process. In fact, chemical cleaning products contain hidden toxic chemicals, which aren’t labelled due to lack of regulations. These dangerous substances are linked to infertility, birth defects, cancer, asthma & allergies.

Chemical Cleaning Spreads Toxicity

How Household Cleaners Affect Your Health

Many common cleaning products release toxic fumes called  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Even small amounts of VOCs are dangerous to inhale. As your exposure builds up, the VOCs can cause headaches, nausea, eye, nose, throat irritation and even liver, kidney & nervous system damage.

Dangerous VOCs Are Damaging Your Family’s Health

VOCs & Allergies

Studies have shown that certain VOCs have been linked to the Allergies & Asthma (Wolkoff, Wilkins, Clausen, & Nielsen, 2006) and even Sick Building Syndrome, wherein occupants become ill from sources of mold &/ VOCs within the building (Joshi, 2008)(Sahlberg et al., 2013).

VOCs Linked To Allergic Conditions


Household Cleaners Cause Weight Gain

A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that household cleaners (VOCs source) have become suspect in childhood obesity through altering gut bacteria (Tun et al., 2018).

Toxic VOCs Promote Obesity


Gut Bacteria & Health

Gut bacteria has been thoroughly researched to support all aspects of health from digestion, gut health, immunity & autoimmunity, inflammation, mental health & brain function to weight control, cravings, heart disease and diabetes prevention.

Gut Bacteria Affect Your Family’s Health


Household Products Containing VOCs

VOCs can be found in many household products including:

  • Aerosol Sprays
  • Cleansers & Disinfectants
  • Copiers & Printers
  • Cosmetics & Makeup
  • Dry-Cleaned Clothing
  • Glues, Adhesives, Permanent Markers
  • Hobby Supplies
  • Moth Repellents & Air Fresheners
  • Paints, Paint Strippers And Other Solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Stored Fuels & Automotive Products
  • Wood Preservatives

Your House is Full of Products Releasing VOCs


Ode, a company that creates environmentally-conscious cleaning products tested the VOCs released by common brands of air fresheners, cleaning sprays, wipes and soaps.

Your House is Full of Products Releasing VOCs


VOCs Vary Amongst Household Products

According to this data, on average, air freshener sprays and cleaning wipes emit the most VOCs per use. Meanwhile, air freshener plug-ins and body wash release the fewest VOCs per use. Indoor levels of VOCs were found to be 2-5X higher than outdoors.

Highest VOCs: Air Fresheners & Cleaning Wipes


The Toxicity of Household Cleaning Products

Other dangerous chemicals are found in household cleaning products including:

  • 1,4-Dioxane: Carcinogen, Detergents
  • 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE, BCEE, or Butyl cellosolve): Eye, Skin, Laundry Stain Removers, Oven Cleaners & Degreasers, Canadian EPA toxic list
  • Ammonia: Lung & Skin
  • Antibacterials (Triclosan): Hormone Disruption, Antibiotic Resistance, Banned in Soaps but still in Cleaners
  • Chlorine Bleach: Lungs, Brain, Cancer, Do not mix with Ammonia or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Diethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (also DEGME or Methoxydiglycol): Fertility Issues, Solvent, Degreasers, Heavy Duty Cleaners, Banned in EU Cleaners
  • Formaldehyde: Carcinogen, Preservative
  • Fragrance: Hormone Disruption, Asthma, Allergies, Code for Hundreds of Unregulated Chemicals including Phthalates
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC): Carcinogen, Neurotoxin, Spot Removers, Dry Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaners
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATs): Asthma, Fabric Softeners, Spray Cleaners

Cleaning Products Contain Many Dangerous Chemicals


Household Chemicals Destroy Nature

Environmental damage is a big concern with household chemicals. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists published their findings in Environmental Science and Technology. The disturbing results showed that many contaminants hardly decreased in concentration and flowed miles away from the source. These substances include detergent degradation products, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, steroidal hormones, pesticides, and other compounds, Importantly, some of these contaminants were found at concentrations that are known, or suspected, to cause sublethal health effects to exposed organisms, including hormonal disruption in fish (Barber et al., 2013).

Chemicals Are Lethal to Nature


Environmental Consequences of Household Cleaners

Other environmental issues include Phosphates in detergents & cleaners that spawn overgrowth of algae, killing off fish; Plastic packaging of cleaning products; Petroleum based chemicals that are not sustainable.

Household Cleaners Damage Our Environment


The Deception of Natural Cleaning Products

Natural cleaning products provide safe, non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients that are naturally-derived & eco-friendly so they won’t harm the environment or your family. The issue with store bought eco-cleaners are the lack of regulation. Companies are not required to list their ingredients so hidden chemicals may be present, despite the “natural” or “organic” claims. Also, many of you may think the natural products do not work as well as their chemical counterparts. This is not the case and it just takes some knowledge of what to use when.

“Organic” & “Natural” Still Contains Hidden Chemicals

Store Bought or Homemade?

There are two options when it comes to natural cleaning; store-bought or homemade. The Environmental Working Group investigated more than 2,000 cleaning supplies on the North American market.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Can Be Made or Bought


Store Bought Natural Cleaning Products

Here are the Top Natural Cleaning Products per the EWG’s “A” Ratings:

All Purpose Cleaners

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner

Aspen All Purpose Cleaner

AspenClean All-in-One Concentrate

AspenClean SuperScrub Powder

Attitude All Purpose Eco Cleaner

Aussan Natural All-Purpose Cleaner

Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

BuggyLOVE Organic Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Sweet Orange Scent

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner

Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus All Purpose Everyday Cleaner

Eco-Me Scrub Cleanser, Emily

Ecover Cream Scrub

Fit Organic Cleaner and Degreaser

Green Shield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner Degreaser, Fresh

iGOZEN Everyday Cleaner

Imus GTC Greening The Cleaning All Purpose Cleaner, Citrus Sage

Lion Bear Naked Soap Co. Every Thing Cleaner, Rosemary-Lavender

Lion Bear Naked Soap Co. Nuttin But Suds, Unscented

MamaSuds All Purpose Cleaner

Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner, Green Tea & Lime

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus

Sun & Earth All Purpose Cleaner, Light Citrus

Heinz Vinegar Distilled White Vinegar

Truce All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate Refills, Peppermint

Truce All-Purpose Cleaner, Peppermint

Whole Foods Market All Purpose Cleaner, Citrus

Whole Foods Market All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner, Pine

Whole Foods Market Green MISSION Organic All-Purpose Spray Cleaner & Degreaser, Lemon Zest


Baby Products

Attitude Little Ones Toy & Surface Cleaner, Fragrance Free

Aussan Natural Nursery All-Purpose Cleaner

BuggyLOVE Organic Stroller Frame & Accessory Cleaner, Sweet Orange Scent

Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap Baby Mild

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Baby Unscented


Castile Soap

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Eucaluptus, Lavender, Tea Tree

MamaSuds Castile Soap

Oology Pure Castile Soap, Peppermint


Glass Cleaners

AspenClean Glass Cleaner

Attitude Window & Mirror Eco Cleaner

Citra Solv Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window & Glass Cleaner

Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner, Fresh

Murchison-Hume Premium Glass Polish, Fragrance Free

Ology Glass Cleaner

Simple Green Naturals Glass & Surface Care, Rosemary Mint

Sun & Earth Glass Cleaner, Light Citrus

Whole Foods Market Glass Cleaner, Unscented


Mold Cleaners

Concrobium Mold Control


Surface Wipes

Babyganics All Purpose Surface Wipes, Fragrance Free

Green Shield Organic Biodegradable Surface Wipes, Fresh

Whole Foods Market Green MISSION Surface Cleaning Wipes, Minty Fresh


The following products should be AVOIDED due to their inherent unavoidable toxicity:

Air Fresheners: mixtures not labeled can cause allergies & asthma

Antibacterial Products: may cause Drug-Resistant Superbugs

Fabric Softeners/Dryer Sheets: may cause allergies & asthma, irritating the lungs

Oven Cleaners/Drain Cleaners: TOXIC burning eyes & skin AVOID


Homemade Natural Cleaning Products

These ingredients are safe and environmentally friendly. They can be used in many formulations to provide healthy, inexpensive, natural cleaning products for the benefit of your family.

Natural Cleaning is Easy, Cheap & Powerful


Ingredients for Homemade Natural Cleaning Products:


  • Disinfectant
  • Removes grease & dirt
  • CAUTION Rubbing Alcohol due to safety issues
  • Vodka is a great odour remover

Baking Soda

  • Cleans, Deodorizes, Scouring Agent


Citrus Solvent

  • Cleans paintbrushes, oil, grease, some stains
  • BEWARE: skin, lung, eye irritation in allergic individuals


  • Cleans windows
  • Polishes furniture
  • Shampoo carpets & rugs

Eucalyptus Oil

  • Disinfectant, deodorizes, prevents rust from setting in

Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Disinfectant for bathroom & kitchen
  • Bleaching effect to remove stains in grout & fabrics
  • BEWARE: skin & lung irritation

Lemon Juice

  • Acidic Disinfectant against household bacteria
  • Removes oily stains

Oxygen Bleach

  • Removes stains
  • Whitens fabrics


  • Unscented soap in any form is biodegradable
  • Cleanser

Vegetable Oil (Olive)

  • Polishes Wood

Vinegar, Apple Cider

  • Cuts grease & grime
  • Removes mildew, odours, stains & wax buildup

Washing Soda

  • Mineral based
  • Cuts grease
  • Removes stains
  • Softens water
  • Cleans tiles, sinks, tubs, walls
  • BEWARE: may irritate mucous membranes
  • AVOID on aluminum


Recipes for Homemade Natural Cleaning Products

Using various combinations of the above ingredients, you can make almost any cleaner that rivals toxic household cleaners. Below are recipes to provide a safe, cheap alternative to protect your family & your wallet. One thing to note that if you buy natural fibre cloths, many solutions are unnecessary as they lift off dust, dirt & grease without any chemicals!

Nature’s Arsenal: Vinegar, Lemon, Baking Soda & Water


All-Purpose Cleaner

½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar + ¼ c Baking Soda + 8 cups Water

Removes water stains on shower glass, chrome & mirrors.

Air Freshener

Air Purifiers

Baking Soda / Apple Cider Vinegar + Lemon Juice

Coffee Grounds: keep freshly ground beans on counter

Flowers/Herbs: keep dried in rooms

Houseplants remove toxins (Aloe, Spider plant, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Snake plant, Rubber plant)

Lemon: grind slices in garbage disposal

Spices: simmer on stove

Apple Cider Vinegar: simmer on stove / wipe odorous items with vinegar then wash

Carpet Freshener

1 cup Baking Soda + 10-20 drops Essential Oils

Sprinkle on carpet, wait 2 hours before vacuuming

Carpet Stain Remover

1 part Apple Cider Vinegar + 1 part Water in Spray bottle

Spray on stain, wait 5 minutes, clean with warm soapy water & scrub brush


NON-GRANITE / MARBLE:  All Purpose Cleaner ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar + ¼ c Baking Soda + 8 cups Water

DISINFECTANT:  100% Apple Cider Vinegar

GRANITE / MARBLE:  Soap + Water AVOID Vinegar as acids will damage it

Diaper Wash

Water + ½ cup Baking Soda

Soak for 2 hours to remove odours & stains, AVOID soaking longer

Dishwasher Soap

1 part Baking Soda + 1 part Washing Soda + 1 part Sea Salt

HARD WATER: 1 part Baking Soda + 1 ½ part Washing Soda + 1 part Sea Salt

STORE: Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder

Dishwashing Liquid

1 part Liquid Soap + 3 parts Water

STRONGER:  1 part Liquid Soap + 3 parts Water + 2-3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

STORE:  Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap


2 tsp Borax + 4 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar + 3 cups Hot Water

STRONGER:  ¼ tsp Liquid Castile Soap + 2 tsp Borax + 4 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar + 3 cups Hot Water

SPONGES:  Run through dishwasher with dishes

Drain Cleaner

MILD:  ½ cup Salt + 16 cups Water, Heat DO NOT BOIL, pour down drain

STRONG:  ½ cup Baking Soda + ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar => CHEMICAL RXN – breaks fat down

Wait 15 minutes, pour boiling water to clear residue

AVOID Boiling Water with plastic plumbing

AVOID Vinegar after Chemical Drain Opener to prevent dangerous fumes

Floor Cleaner

VINYL / LINOLEUM:  5 drops Olive Oil + 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar + 4 cups Warm Water

WOOD:  ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar + 8 cups Warm Water, use only barely damp mop, test area 1st

BRICK / STONE:  1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar + 16 cups Water, rinse with plain water

Mold Removal

1 part Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) + 2 parts Water

Spray on moldy areas, wait 1 hour before rinsing

100% Apple Cider Vinegar / Lemon Juice, scrub on moldy area, rinse

Oven Cleaner

¾ cup Baking Soda + ¼ cup Salt + ¼ cup Water, makes thick paste

Apply water to oven surfaces, then apply paste everywhere, leave overnight, wipe clean

Use steel wool on tough areas

Refrigerator Cleaner

INTERIOR:  All Purpose Cleaner ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar + ¼ c Baking Soda + 8 cups Water

Also exterior for non-stainless steel materials

EXTERIOR:  100% Apple Cider Vinegar to avoid streaks

Scouring Cleaner

100% Baking Soda, apply with damp sponge

Stovetop Cleaner

Soap + Water / Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar

STUCK ON FOOD: Apply Soap + Hot Water, sprinkle on baking soda, wait 30 mins, wipe clean

Stain Remover

100% Apple Cider Vinegar, spray stain before washing

GRASS, SWEAT, FOOD: 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide + 1 part Water, spray stain before washing

Tile & Tub Cleaner

100% Baking Soda, apply with damp sponge, rinse with plain water

TOUGH: Rinse with 100% Apple Cider Vinegar, use Baking Soda to scour then rinse

Toilet Cleaner

¼ cup Baking Soda + 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar, pour into toilet, wait 5 mins, scrub & rinse


2 parts Borax + 1 part Lemon Juice

RUST:  100% Apple Cider Vinegar, spray & wait overnight, brush with Baking Soda to scour

Window Cleaner

2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar + 4 cups Warm Water, clean with newspaper / cotton cloth

Only black & white newspaper, not coloured

AVOID windows with sun to prevent streaked drying

AVOID excess vinegar as it can etch & cloud glass


All Purpose Cleaner ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar + ¼ c Baking Soda + 8 cups Water


Resources for Natural Cleaning


Related    Household Cleaners May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity by Altering Gut Bacteria: Canadian Medical Association Journal New Study


Barber LB, Keefe SH, Brown GK, Furlong ET, Gray JL, Kolpin DW, Meyer MT, Sandstrom MW, Zaugg SD. Persistence and potential effects of complex organic contaminant mixtures in wastewater-impacted streams. Environmental Science & Technology. 2013 Feb 11;47(5):2177-88.

Joshi SM. The Sick Building Syndrome. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2008 Aug;12(2):61.

Sahlberg B, Gunnbjörnsdottir M, Soon A, Jogi R, Gislason T, Wieslander G, Janson C, Norback D. Airborne molds and bacteria, microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC), plasticizers and formaldehyde in dwellings in three North European cities in relation to sick building syndrome (SBS). Science of the Total Environment. 2013 Feb 1;444:433-40.

Tun M, Tun H, Mahoney J, Konya T, Guttman D, Becker A et al. Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2018;190(37):E1097-E1107.

Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality | US EPA [Internet]. US EPA. 2018 [cited 21 September 2018]. Available from:

Which Cleaning Products Are Polluting Your Home the Most? [Internet]. Ode to Clean. 2018 [cited 21 September 2018]. Available from:

Wolkoff P, Wilkins C, Clausen P, Nielsen G. Organic compounds in office environments – sensory irritation, odor, measurements and the role of reactive chemistry. Indoor Air. 2006;16(1):7-19.

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This post is for educational purposes only and does not advocate self-diagnosis.  Due to individual variability, consultation with a licensed physician is highly recommended, prior to starting a natural treatment plan.

For further information, see Terms of Our Website.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not advocate self-diagnosis.  Due to individual variability, consultation with a licensed health professional, such as a naturopathic physician is highly recommended, prior to starting a natural treatment plan. For further information, see Terms of our Website.


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