The Best Natural Bathroom Cleaners
By Marilee Nelson |
Bathroom cleaning is a job few people enjoy.
Not only are bathrooms challenging to keep clean, but conventional bathroom cleaners are loaded with harmful chemicals that emit harmful VOCs and can cause health problems.
Yet no one likes the prospect of dirty floors and toilets, tubs with soap scum, smudgey mirrors, toothpastey sinks, and mildewy tile..
Fortunately, you don’t have to don a gas mask or spend hours scrubbing to get a clean and sanitized bathroom.
In this article we share the best natural (and practical) bathroom cleaners you can use for everyday and deep cleaning.
Toxic Chemicals Found in Bathroom Cleaners
We’ve all heard that bathrooms can be one of the dirtiest and germ ridden places in the home.
This has led most consumers to believe harmful chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and antibacterial cleaners are essential for cleaning.
Sure, we see the warning labels on the bottles and have heard about accidental poisonings, yet the majority of Americans have no idea just how harmful everyday bathroom cleaning chemicals can be.
If we did, there is no way we would risk using them in our homes.
Here are a few examples of the dangerous chemicals found in common household bathroom cleaners:
- Chlorine Bleach (sodium hypochlorite): An EPA-registered pesticide linked to:
- Severe skin, eye, and lung burns due to the chloramine gas created when bleach is combined with other chemicals or organic matter. Sources 1, 2, 3, 4
- DNA damage, cancer, asthma, respiratory problems, headaches, and a host of other illnesses.
- Impaired immunity due to microbiome disruption
- Passive exposure is linked to an increased rate of miscarriage, preterm birth, respiratory and other illnesses in children.
- Ammonia: Ammonia hydroxide is considered a “high hazard” by OSHA and can cause severe skin burns and eye damage, irritation to mucous membranes, respiratory problems, and life-threatening pulmonary edema. It’s also extremely toxic to aquatic life.
- Quats: Also known as quaternary ammonium compounds or QACs, are ammonia-based disinfectants potentially linked to:
- Birth defects
- Decreased mitochondrial function
- Disruption of cholesterol
- Neurodevelopmental issues
- Proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria
- Respiratory issues
- Reproductive toxicity
- Toxicity to certain aquatic life
- Fragrance: Synthetic fragrances may be made up of dozens to hundreds of undisclosed chemicals, many of which contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates, asthmagens, obesogens, and potentially carcinogenic compounds.
- Ethanol: Increases risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and multiple forms of cancer.
- Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Such as DMDM hydantoin, etc., are carcinogenic.
- Synthetic surfactants: Such as Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) have been banned in other countries due to disrupted physical function and fetal development. They are also toxic to aquatic life. (Sources 1, 2)
- PEGs/polysorbates: May contain carcinogenic chemicals like 1,4-dioxane.
This is not a complete list of all the harmful ingredients in chemical-based bathroom cleaners. Yet it paints a clear picture of how harmful they can be.
In a perfect world, regulatory agencies would better warn consumers about the potential harms of these products' short- and long-term effects.
Until then, it is up to us to be our own product advocates and to choose non-toxic products whenever possible.
Best Bathroom Cleaners Without Toxic Chemicals
Ready for some good news?
Despite what you may have heard, you do not need to use high-powered disinfectants and chemical cleaners to get a clean and germ-free bathroom.
There are plenty of natural, non-toxic, and highly effective bathroom cleaners you can buy or make yourself using pantry items and other common household products.
Let’s explore these now.
For Tile & Grout
Tile and grout are easy to clean, brighten, and whiten with these natural products.
Branch Basics Bathroom is a concentrated, all-natural product that thoroughly removes germs, powers through dirt, grime, and soap scum, and leaves your bathroom squeaky clean.
Branch Basics Bathroom is easy to use on shower tile, just spray on, let dwell a few minutes for soap scum build-up, and wipe off.
Here’s how to use them together for mold and mildew on tile:
- Spray grout with Bathroom solution liberally.
- Mix Oxygen Boost and water in a small bowl.
- Apply the mixture on the grout. Or sprinkle Oxygen Boost on the grout and spray to wet using the Bathroom solution.Let sit for 10 minutes or more before scrubbing andrinsing the solution off.
To learn more about using Branch Basics for cleaning and removing germs, check out: Does Branch Basics Kill Germs?
Baking Soda + Vinegar
Use plain white vinegar plus baking soda to clean tile and grout on the floor or shower tiles.
- Spray tiles with distilled white vinegar. You can use undiluted vinegar or diluted with water 50:50.
- Mix baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste and rub it onto the tile and grout (you can sprinkle pure baking soda into the tub).
- Scrub everything together (you should hear a fizz when the vinegar and baking soda combine), clean, and rinse.
For more tile cleaning tips, see: How to Clean Floor Tile Naturally.
Note: Omit vinegar and instead combine baking soda with liquid castile soap if vinegar is not recommended for your particular concrete, natural stone, or unglazed quarry stone tiles.
For Sinks & Tubs
Sinks and tubs can get dirty quickly…especially if kids, teens, and pets are involved! Clean them up easily with these natural bathroom cleaners.
Branch Basics Bathroom is often enough to make quick work of bathtub or sink cleaning.
For bigger jobs where scouring or more robust cleaning is required, add in Oxygen Boost.
- Spray Branch Basics Bathroom into the tub or sink.
- Scrub using a natural bristle brush, adding a little water as needed to work up a rich lather.
- If Oxygen Boost is required, sprinkle into the tub or sink immediately following Branch Basics Bathroom spray.
Check out: The 5 Best Bathroom Cleaners Without Bleach for more tips.
Homemade Baking Soda Scrub
If you love creamy bathroom cleaners, you’ll love this easy-to-make homemade baking soda scrub.
Homemade Baking Soda Sink & Tub Scrub
- 1 cup Baking Soda
- 1/4 cup fragrance-free liquid castile soap, such as:
- 1-2 tablespoons water
How to Make:
- Combine everything, adding enough water to create desired creamy consistency.
- Use as-needed on sinks, tubs, and showers.
- Store in a mason jar or other sealed container.
Mirrors often require the most attention in the bathroom. These natural cleaners will attack spatter, smudges, and watermarks in no time flat.
Streak-Free is our most economically-unbelievable cleaner.
Just 1 drop (yes, one drop) of Branch Basics Concentrate diluted in a spray bottle full of water makes enough Streak-Free to last months!
- Spray a couple of sprays of Streak-Free on the mirror (you don’t need a lot).
- Wipe clean.
*If you notice streaking you have either added more than a drop of concentrate or you may have hard water. If you have hard water use distilled water to eliminate water marks.
3% hydrogen peroxide (the one in the brown bottle) makes an excellent mirror cleaner.
Just spray peroxide directly on your mirror, wipe, and you’re done.
Since we use peroxide to sanitize and disinfect many things around the house, we attach a trigger sprayer directly to the brown bottle.
This enhances ease of use while keeping the peroxide in its original brown packaging (vs. another spray bottle), which helps prevent product breakdown and maximizes shelf-life.
Note: Hydrogen peroxide is odorless and is recommended over vinegarfor window cleaning because acetic acid (a lung irritant) is released when vinegar is sprayed.
Although toilets always require deep and thorough cleaning, they do not require harsh cleaners or toxic disinfectants.
Here are some excellent natural toilet cleaning alternatives.
- Flush the toilet to wet the bowl.
- Spray Branch Basics Bathroom around the bowl, on the seat, and around the toilet.
- Sprinkle Oxygen Boost in the bowl.
- Let dwell for 5-10 minutes for extra cleaning power.
- Scrub using your toilet brush.
- Wipe down the rest of the toilet.
Overnight method for stains and deep cleaning:
- Spray Branch Basics Bathroom around the toilet bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 scoop or more of Oxygen Boost around your toilet bowl before bed.
- Let sit overnight.
- Scrub lightly in the morning, flush, and wipe down the seat and base using Branch Basics Bathroom dilution or your favorite non-toxic bathroom cleaner.
For more natural toilet cleaning tips, check out: 5 Best (and effective) Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaners.
Clean and Disinfect Toilets With Non-Toxic Vinegar + Peroxide
We typically prefer to remove germs vs. killing them, which helps prevent the spread of superbugs.
However, using a natural disinfectant on toilets is another option.
The key is to use them separately and store them in separate bottles. The reason is even though they are non-toxic, they can create harmful fumes if combined.
- Branch Basics Bathroom Cleaner
- Split fiber Microfiber
- Distilled White Vinegar (5% acidity)
- Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution - brown bottle)
- A spray nozzle for the brown bottle of peroxide
- A spray bottle for the vinegar (or a spray nozzle for the bottle if it will fit)
How to Naturally Disinfect Your Toilet:
- Clean the toilet using Branch Basics or another non-toxic surfactant based soap to remove germs and grime. This is essential because any dirt or matter left behind can interfere with the sanitizing effects of the vinegar and peroxide.
- Spray or squirt the surface with one of the liquids (hydrogen peroxide bottles work great for squirting directly, and you want to keep your hydrogen peroxide in its brown botle to preserve it). The order doesn’t matter. You can start with either vinegar or peroxide.
- After spraying, let it sit for 5 - 30 minutes (dwell time), then scrub the bowl with a toilet brush, wipe surfaces with a microfiber cloth, and flush. Remember that vinegar contains acetic acid, which is a lung irritant when sprayed. Refrain from breathing in the fumes from the vinegar when sprayed. It quickly clears if good ventilation is used. Turn on the bathroom exhaust fan and close the bathroom door to clear out the vinegar smell while letting the vinegar dwell.
- Repeat with the other bottle by spraying the surface and letting it sit for 5 - 30 minutes (dwell time). Next, scrub the bowl with a toilet brush, wipe surfaces with a microfiber cloth, and flush.
You can use this natural disinfecting/sanitizing method throughout your home as needed.
Learn more in: Is Branch Basics A Sanitizer Or A Disinfectant?
For Air Freshener
As discussed in Fragrance Is The New Secondhand Smoke, The Emotional Attachment to Fragrance, and How To Remove Synthetic Fragrance From Your Home, the fragrances found in synthetic air fresheners contain some of the most concerning chemicals on the market.
Yet they are presumed safe and used liberally in bathrooms as plug-in diffusers, automatic spray contraptions, and aerosol air fresheners.
If you feel your bathroom needs an air freshener, consider these natural air freshener alternatives.
Vodka or Baking Soda
Vodka is the perfect non-toxic fragrance free air freshener. Vodka neutralizes, freshens, and helps sanitize the air.
To use, place 2 Tablespoons inexpensive non-flavored vodka and 1 cup distilled water in a spray bottle and mist into the air.
Baking soda acts as a natural odor absorber, making it ideal for bathrooms.
To use, place a dish of baking soda in your bathroom to absorb odors naturally (take care with placement if you have pets or small children around).
Learn more in: 7 Non-Toxic Air Fresheners: Remove Odors Naturally.
Bathroom Cleaner FAQs
There’s much to consider when switching your favorite chemical-based cleaners for natural bathroom cleaners. These FAQs will help.
What is the Best Way to Remove Mold From Tile Naturally?
Great question! Bathrooms are notorious for mold and mildew build-up due to damp and humid conditions.
This is when most people (reluctantly) reach for the bleach-based, extra fumey tile spray.
It’s true! Although bleach does kill surface mold (which is why those powerful bleach-based tile cleaners work…for a while), it doesn’t kill mold beneath the surface and introduces water to the area, allowing mold to thrive.
Instead, turn to non-toxic cleaners, like Branch Basics Bathroom plus Oxygen Boost (which contains the mold-fighting power of sodium percarbonate), plus EPA and OSHA-recommended hydrogen peroxide to eliminate mold and mildew on tiles.
What you'll need:
Here’s what to do instead:
- Spray grout lines liberally with Branch Basics Bathroom solution.
- Sprinkle with Oxygen Boost. Wet the Oxygen Boost with a spray of Bathroom solution.
- Scrub with a toothbrush or scrub brush.
- Let sit for 1-5 minutes (the longer, the better).
- Rinse or wipe off with a microfiber cloth to remove the mold.
- As with germs, just cleaning with soap and water removes the mold. The next step is optional.
- Finish by spraying straight hydrogen peroxide on the grout lines (add a spray bottle cap directly to your hydrogen peroxide bottle to make this easy), and let dry.
See our recommendations for essential cleaning tools to make the process easier and get the full tutorial, plus helpful mold prevention tips in: How To Clean Mold On Bathroom Grout And Showers Without Bleach.
How Do I Clean My Tub Without Scrubbing?
Since the build-up of soap scum, dirt, grime, etc., usually require scrubbing, the best way to avoid this is to clean your tub often.
However, you can also use “dwell time”—the act of leaving your natural bathroom cleaner spray on the tub’s surface for several minutes—to help eliminate or reduce scrubbing.
For scrub-free soap scum removal, try undiluted distilled white vinegar sprayed directly on the soap scum. Allow dwell time of 5-10 minutes, and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
What Are Other Options For Removing Bathroom Mold?
The best prevention against mold and mildew is controlling humidity by wiping down excess water and using the exhaust fan and ventilation, and regular cleaning.
See the previous section above for non-toxic mold removal instructions.
Toss the Toxins With Branch Basics
Isn’t it liberating to know you can clean and sanitize your bathroom efficiently and effectively without using harmful cleaning chemicals?
Whether you try Branch Basics or another natural DIY option, you can be confident in your ability to tackle any bathroom cleaning chore with ease.
For more non-toxic bathroom cleaning tips, check out:
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.