May 31, 2023

Cancer and Greener Cleaners


I try to reduce my exposure to household carcinogens without entering the territory of enviroparanoia.  I buy products that are inexpensive, free of scary ingredients, and don’t have heavy perfumes or essential oils (I just don’t like the smell).  I also like products that actually work.  Buying something green that only does half the job is just a waste. Here are the products I like and a few I don’t:

Dr. Watkins – All purpose cleaner, lemon scent, available at Target.  Cleans counters, tile, bathroom, entire kitchen.

Bon Ami – This stuff has been around for 120 years.  That’s before most scary chemicals were even invented.  It works like magic on my tub and faucet handles, and cleans super skanky pots and pans like a dream.

Vinegar and Water – Cleans windows, hardwood floors, and mirrors.

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent -  Ecover and Seventh Generation have failed to do the trick. Instead, we’ve been using Cascade, which seems like it belongs in a super fund site. Any recommendations?

Has cancer or any other illness made you more conscious of the cleaners you use? What are your favorite green cleaners?  Which ones don’t you like?  Can you recommend anything for my dishwasher dilemma?

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  1. anonymous Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    I try to use green cleaners because the chemicals in most cleaners pose health risks. For some reason, Windex gives me horrible headaches.

    The Watkins stuff works great. I find the toilet bowl cleaner especially effective.

    I’m with you on the dish detergent - I’d love to find a green version so that I won’t be exposing the plates I eat off of to chemicals and won’t be polluting waterways, but unfortunately I have yet to find one that works. Hopefully someone will identify a good one in these comments!

  2. Karin Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 6:36 PM

    dishwasher: Trader Joe’s powder. No phosphates. Good price. Was rated on the “green” version of Consumer Reports as one of the best for effectiveness and price.

  3. Sara Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    I’m a big fan of the vinegar water mixture on my wood floors. And now thanks to Karin’s reco will pick up the TJ’s dish powder.
    I’ve also heard that baking soda makes a good cleanser but haven’t tried it yet.

  4. jana Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 9:27 PM

    Bon Ami…yes it translates to “good friend,” and that it is if you’re like me and wish you didn’t have to use anything but water to clean-up.
    I’ve been wondering about window washing though. Its the one area I rely on Windex for and wish I didn’t. I always hear vinegar and water toted to do the job but does anyone know the concentration to blend and what kind of vinegar it needs to be?

  5. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 8:47 AM

    Jana, White vinegar does the trick when mixed with tap water. I just mix half and half and keep it stored in a spray bottle. If you want a sudsier solution you can add liquid soap to it as well. Love that Bon Ami = good friend! Best, Kairol

  6. JW Says:
    June 2nd, 2009 at 6:06 AM

    Baking soda does work for scrubby jobs; pots & pans, tiles,tubs. Bon Ami and Bar Keepers Friend are my recent faves for that job though. Vinegar and water in the steam cleaner for your carpet works well, also. Vinegar has disinfecting properties and I’d been using it in the laundry to soften fabrics (I hate dryer sheets perfumania). Good to know about the TJs dish detergent because I’ve been buying cascade gel-packs in lieu of a better option. I’m well into my enviro-paranoia with respect to cleaning products. Even before cancer I noticed headaches when I cleaned and then my illness made me really conscious of what I exposed my family to. As an aside; we use as many natural and organic body wash/shampoo/soaps/lotions as we can and it has made a huge difference for my family’s skin. Not nearly as dry.

  7. Anonymous Says:
    June 2nd, 2009 at 8:55 AM

    Baking soda!!!! I used a little water and baking to soda to clean a filthy broiler pan, and it lifted the grease and grime like a dream. There are million other uses for this inexpensive and non-toxic product.

  8. JBBC Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    I absolutely agree with you Kairol about this issue and like other comments here, my staple cleaners include vinegar, lemon and baking soda. The other area I have become more concerned with after cancer is the chemical cocktail we expose ourselves to with our use of everyday cosmetic products. Unfortunately not all toxic ingredients are listed on these products. I would be interested to hear what you think on this subject.

  9. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 2:09 PM


    I agree. The FDA has no regulations for the labeling of cosmetic products. As a result we are seeing two responses: 1) Products with labels that say “natural” - which is just a marketing term and has no regulations or standards, 2) Eco-beauty products that actually do monitor their ingredients quite closely but have such a high price tag that they are not affordable for the average American, and certainly not for the average cancer patients contending with medical expenses. In my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s I recommend an organization called Skin Deep that has a wonderful database. It gives you the inside scoop on chemicals in most beauty products and can help you search for ones free of carcinogens Hope this helps.

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