DIY Cleaners: 3 Allergen-Free Cleaning Products

Unfortunately, sometimes even your average household cleaning product can contain hidden life-threatening allergens. From walnut-shell cleaning sponges to ingredients in your dish detergent labeled with the cryptic “naturally derived source”, it can sometimes be quite literally impossible to know what’s inside our cleaning products because labeling laws are not the same when it comes to the top 8 food allergens being inside non-food products. Ever feel like you might be allergic to cleaning products used at work? What about at your in-laws home? The truth is, you could be.

Simply put, if a product wasn’t made for food consumption, there’s no ingredient transparency requirement, even if it contains something like a peanut-derived ingredient. I started becoming shocked when I would be looking at products in the store and seeing 96% of the ingredients disclosed and wondering where the other 4% was, learning it wasn’t anywhere because it’s a proprietary formula.

To anyone reading this who is new to dealing with food allergies, non-food products are not required to be labeled to the same standards as food products, since they aren’t meant to be ingested. This can make finding out what’s inside of a product from being annoyingly tricky to an impossible feat. 

3 Allergy-Friendly Tips

For many, an all-purpose household spray or laundry detergent is just another random household item you buy every so often as it runs out. However, it can suddenly become much more when you have a food, environmental, or chemical allergy.

Here are some points to consider:

1. Learning Your Allergen’s Latin Name

Did you know things such as peanut oil and almond oil often aren’t listed this same way in non-food products? They typically are listed as their latin term instead. Peanut is known as groundnut oil or arachis oil, while the latin words for almond include amygdalum and amygdale, with sweet almond oil being prunus amygdalus. I have a notepad page of the various terms for my allergen, and I suggest jotting your own allergen latin names down and keeping it someplace handy for quick reference.

2. Cleaning Products With Heavy Fragrance Are A Red Flag

These ‘fragrances’ can often set off someone’s asthma and/or cause varying allergic responses. I suggest using fragrance-free & dye-free products if possible to eliminate a potential allergic reaction.

3. Always Check The Label On Non-Food Products

Many household cleaning products contain natural ingredients which are listed transparently for us in the ingredients label, but we may not think to look there since we aren’t eating it! Natural ingredients can be great for the environment, but potentially deadly for those of us with allergies to natural ingredients, such as almond oil in wood cleaners, cleaning sprays, and fabric softeners, or crushed walnut shells, which can be found in exfoliant products like scrubbing soaps and sponges. You can also check a brands FAQ page on their site if they have one to see if they discuss allergens there.

There Is Relaxed Labeling On Non-Food Products

Because of this more lax labeling, I believe less is more when it comes to the household products and cleaning supplies I use at home. I also don’t shop around very often, if I find a product that I don’t have a reaction to, I become a tried and true buyer and will try to stick to it forever. That’s not to say I don’t read the ingredients each time, I still do in case they’ve changed the recipe. 

I’ve found that not only is it easier to know what is inside a product when you can pronounce and identify the ingredients, but making my own household supplies is a lot cheaper and just as effective! Using simple ingredients around my house to do chores feels satisfying, and I love being able to clean worry-free. I’ve even found sometimes the more basic the cleaning product, the better it cleans! That’s the case with my 3 favorite allergen-free cleaning products below! Cheers to some good old fashioned spring cleaning! Happy spring!

My 3 Best Allergen-Free Cleaning Product Recipes

1. Baking Soda & Vinegar Scrub

Baking soda and white vinegar are the only ingredients you need! Depending on how much cleaning you’re doing, mix a cup or two of baking soda in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar bit by bit, stirring with a spoon until it forms a thick paste! Use this mixture with a sponge, rag, or old toothbrush, and give your tub, toilet, sinks, counters, any surface a rub to a sparkling clean finish! An added tip: I throw 1/2 a cup of baking soda down our kitchen drain every other month followed by a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. This will help unclog the sink & keep things smelling fresh. Let it sizzle for about 5 minutes as it breaks down and foams, and then run cold water down the drain for about 15 seconds, and you’re all done! If white vinegar isn’t your thing, you can use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead.

2. Bed Linen Spray 

Sometimes I sit and wonder what I did before I spritzed all my linens with this magical spray! Clean out an old spray bottle or mist bottle and add in: 4 tbsp rubbing alcohol, 3 tbsp plain witch hazel, 20 drops of lavender essential oil, and top the rest of the bottle off with distilled water or filtered water. If you don’t have it, you can use tap water as well, just boil it first and let it come to room temperature, then add it into your bottle. (Boiling your water will decrease the amount of calcium build up around the spray nozzle overtime.)

I spray this on my throw blankets, in my dog’s bed (when he’s not in it), and spray our bed linens with it each morning before making the bed to keep them fresh for longer. Lavender is naturally antimicrobial, insecticidal and antifungal! If you can’t use lavender or don’t have it, there are other essential oils that could be used instead, such as: peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, and more. I’ve never used it, but instead of rubbing alcohol you can also use everclear or vodka, as long as it’s 120 proof alcohol. If it’s 80 proof, that’s too low, so just keep that in mind!

3. Carpet Deodorizer 

I love using this on my bedroom carpet and on area rugs throughout the house. Grab any blender you have and whiz up a combination of: 1 cup baking soda, 3-5 whole cloves, and 1-2 bay leaves. The product will be dry in consistency, and you can lightly sprinkle it evenly onto your carpets, trying to get a thin layer. I usually will start at the far end of one room, sprinkle it down, then lightly massage it into the surface with my fingers (you can use gloves or not, your preference!) Then I keep walking backwards across the room while sprinkling it, so that I can exit the room without walking on the treated surface. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and vacuum it up afterwards! The clove and bay leaf provide a lovely smell in addition to their natural anti-microbial properties. I personally can’t get enough of this comforting scent & it will leave my carpets smelling fresh for weeks! If you wanted you could do this every 2 weeks, monthly, or every 6 months – it’s up to you and how often you use the spaces you’re deodorizing. 

Allergen-Free Cleaning Product FAQ

What cleaning products are good for allergies?

This is a common misconception, there’s no specific product that is good for allergies since everyone has different allergies. Technically, hypoallergenic and similar terms like this are a marketing ploy.

Can cleaning products trigger allergies?

Absolutely! That’s the purpose of my allergen-free cleaning products article and why I make DIY cleaners and am sharing these homemade cleaning product recipes. It’s important to look for your allergies in cleaning products, and know that they may not be releasing all the ingredients.

What is a good homemade cleaning solution?

My Baking Soda & Vinegar Scrub recipe is a fantastic DIY homemade all-purpose cleaner! If you have an allergy to common carpet cleaning chemicals, try my Carpet Deodorizer recipe.

Do homemade cleaners actually work?

They do! In fact, I’d argue they may work better at times than something store-bought. I stand behind my non-toxic cleaning products discussed here in this article. They’re great homemade diy cleaners that work! Don’t be afraid to make your own cleaning products.

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This blog post was originally written by Invisibly Allergic for the Food Equality Initiative (FEI) Free-From Magazine. It has since been updated and changed to stay current on the Invisibly Allergic Blog.

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