Cleaning products and allergies – alternatives to commercial products

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People who suffer from allergies – and especially asthma sufferers – can be sensitive to chemicals in everyday household cleaning products. If you want to reduce your exposure to these chemicals, consider the alternatives below.

This advice comes from the NHS, United Kingdom. Not only is this sound advice for allergy sufferers, but these changes will also benefit the environment.

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners contain substances caused volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, some studies suggest, can cause asthma in children. Synthetic fragrances, such as artificial musks, can also cause allergic and asthmatic reactions.

What’s the alternative? Buy some odour-absorbing rubber or spider plants. Or make your own air freshener by putting a teaspoon of baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar and two cups of water into a spray bottle.


Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, a chemical that gives off toxic fumes that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

What’s the alternative? Borax powder, a natural mineral that you can buy from the chemist. Dilute it in hot water (a teaspoon per litre) and add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar.

Oven Cleaners

Some of these contain sodium hydroxide, a highly toxic chemical that can irritate your airways and cause breathing problems.

What’s the alternative? Put a heatproof dish filled with water in the oven and turn on the heat for a while to let the steam soften any baked-on grime. When the oven has cooled, make a paste using equal measures of salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, spread it over the oven surfaces and scrub off using a scouring pad.

Spray Furniture Polish

Spray furniture polish contains VOCs and synthetic fragrance (see air fresheners, above).

What’s the alternative? Use a natural wax polish, such as beeswax. Work it into your wood surfaces and buff until you get a shine.

Toilet Cleaner

Toilet cleaner often contains naphthalene, and the fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.

What’s the alternative? Use vinegar to soften any limescale: pour half a bottle into the bowl last thing at night, then give it a good scrub in the morning.

Washing Powders

Some washing powders contain sodium carbonate, which can cause allergic skin reactions.

What’s the alternative? Only use non-biological washing powders, as these are less likely to irritate the skin.

Window Cleaner

The overpowering smell you get when you open a bottle of window or glass cleaner is ammonia, which can irritate the skin as well as the eyes and lungs.

What’s the alternative? Add two tablespoons of vinegar to a small bucket of warm water, wash, then dry with a clean cloth.

The Phantom Forest Team

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3 Responses to Cleaning products and allergies – alternatives to commercial products

  1. I make a laundry gel that is Eco-friendly and very pure. Manufactured at my home in Rheenendal – R 10.00 a Litre. Bring your bucket or container and I will fill you up!

  2. I also do handcrafted soap and liquid handsoap, again – all natural ingredients and wonderful for people with allergies or eczema.

    You can contact me directly at 044 3884664 / 079 667 3038.

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