ByMegan Winkler

May 11, 2014

ToiletCleaning the toilet is nobody’s idea of fun. You may disagree with me, but I think it’s absolutely the worst household chore. Maybe it’s from being assigned the task of cleaning all three on Saturday mornings growing up or maybe it’s just because the toilet is gross. Honestly. We all know what we do in there. Plus, the chemicals typically used to clean toilets are more harmful than the germs we’re trying to kill there anyway. Between the fumes and the corrosive chemicals, it’s a wonder we aren’t slowly poisoning ourselves every time we clean the toilet.

Typical toilet bowl cleaners contain sulfates which can trigger asthma attacks and chlorine which, when combined with other chemicals, can form chlorine gas. You do know what the Germans used when they first started using chemical weapons during World War I, right? If you guessed chlorine gas, you’re a winner. (Accept my congratulations and a warm smile, which you can’t see. Trust me, I’m smiling.)

Think about it: this stuff goes into our water system, which means that we’ll eventually drink trace amounts of it. Yuck! Not to mention what they could do to us in their complete states when we use them. Those chlorine-laden discs that you can drop into the water tank actually carry warnings on their labels about being fatal if swallowed. Fatal. That means you’re dead.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of toilet bowl cleaners on the market that are much safer to use. The EPA’s Design for the Environment program features a list of companies that design products that are safer for the environment. Using the cool drop down menus on the site, you can find several safer options in just about every category of cleaning product.

Among other rather obscure products, the site lists Clorox Green Works 98% Naturally Derived Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Dial Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl. Both use plant-derived products and lactic acid—which is the stuff that occurs naturally in our bodies and makes your muscles sore when you work out. Yes, I checked the ingredients for you.

I did a little more research and came up with a few more options. Although not listed on the EPA’s website, there are several products that are plant-based, non-toxic (yay for not dying!) and bio-degradable, like Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Ecover Toilet Cleaner. Most of the company websites I found had a tab for each product’s ingredients. Do some quick research before going to the store to save yourself some time.

Another product I found is BioShield’s SODASAN Toilet Bowl Cleaner. It’s made from organic materials including citric acid, alcohol and cooking salt. But this just sounds like something you could put together in your kitchen, so if you’re into saving a few bucks in addition to saving the environment, here are a couple of options for you.

For a chemical-free bowl cleaner, simply combine half a cup of baking soda with a quarter cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. You can use this in other places like the shower and on countertops if you want.

If you’re feeling really fancy, combine half a cup of baking soda with a cup of hot water and quarter cup of each of the following: hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and liquid castile soap (available at health food stores). Mix the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and soap together before adding the hot water to the mix slowly. Add vinegar and whisk until the solution no longer fizzes. To reduce the vinegar smell of either mixture, add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil to the ingredient list. Place in a spray bottle and get to work! Or better yet, give the chemical-free concoction to your kids and let them get to work!

By Megan Winkler

Eco-nerd, solar power enthusiast, DIY diva and professional coffee drinker, Megan has written everything from courses in healthcare and psychology to interior design and cooking advice. She has a master’s degree in military history, owns two chainsaws, is a collector of strange trivia and a world renowned Pinterest pro. She is constantly looking for better ways to do things.