Of all household goods that can harm both health and the environment, "cleaning products are the easiest to replace," says Christopher Gavigan, CEO and executive director of Healthy Child Healthy World. Caustic cleaning agents, drain decloggers, and other chemical-laden products can cause allergic reactions, poisoning, and illness, especially in kids, whose smaller bodies are more sensitive.
There are perfectly good alternatives. That's because there's a growing list of substitutes from smaller companies like Seventh Generation, Method, and giants like Clorox, which is rolling out its Green Works line.
Make sure you check the label for some of the biggest baddies: formaldehyde, ammonia, bleach, and parabens. (To go really green, avoid dyes and fragrances, too.) Or pick out products that meet certain independent standards, advises Stephen Ashkin, president of the Ashkin Group, a green cleaning consultancy; try greenseal.org or ecologo.org. Better yet, make your own out of ingredients you already have, like vinegar and baking soda.
You can find recipes at healthychild.org/resources/article/make_your_own_household_cleaners/.