Sentimental Cleaning

BOOK NOW: 619 800 8895

Visit Homepage

Natural Cleaning in San Diego

Is your cleaning making your environment clean?

Cleaning our house should be a positive experience. After all, we are tidying up messes and sometimes even our minds with it. However, we rarely do research about the products we use, and even if we do give this importance, we may not always know how to make better decisions.

If we hire professional cleaners, then we may also not even know what products are being used in our households. Yet, this is a topic that every cleaning company should be transparent about and offer some options to address “toxic burden” concerns. Sentimental Cleaning is a San Diego cleaning company that ensures customers receive consulting and support in this area if requested.

Unfortunately, many of today’s cleaning products are known to contain harmful chemicals.

Even products marketed as green or natural can often contain ingredients that pose a risk for health problems. While marketing can be informational, it’s also important to understand that some labels make empty claims that do not tell us much about actual ingredients within.

Let’s look at some of the ingredients that we may encounter and recommend some ways to minimize potential harm to us, our children and our pets.

Armed with knowledge, consumers can then make better decisions that lead to a healthier more fulfilling lifestyle. The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be a costly feat either, there are low cost options to make cleaning eco-friendly and non-toxic too. 

Protect your lungs

Some cleaning supplies can release chemicals into the air. Perhaps the best known is VOC, which stands for volatile organic compounds. These are chemicals that vaporize at room temperature. Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are glycol ethers, hydrocarbons, chlorinates, terpenes and phthalates. This isn’t by far the exhaustive list. In 2003, California Resource board found that households release per year about 7.5 tons of VOC just in the State alone. It was on average about 82 grams a year (1).

VOCs can trigger asthma, especially in children, and there are good reasons to believe that they are responsible for a portion of asthma cases as of today. Asthma is not the only illness that results from VOCs.

VOCs can also, just like any other chemical, trigger contact dermatitis and eczema. VOCs are also suspected to be endocrine and immune disruptors, but unfortunately, human studies to prove this are lacking as most studies have been done on animals. VOCs can be detected in low quantities in human blood, though, a fact that itself should be worrisome. We also know that some VOCs are carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and benzene. Thankfully, there are at least restrictions on the amounts allowed in cleaning products, but as everyone can have different immune systems and sensitivity, is there such a thing as a safe amount? And how do we determine what’s safe?

Unfortunately, regulations also sometimes make it impossible to determine whether a cleaning product contains VOC. Manufacturers, especially in the US, are not required to disclose all the ingredients, so it’s up to consumers to find the companies that are honest about their practices and want to include everything on their label.


619 800-8895

Sentimental Cleaning offers both natural and organic cleanings for affordable prices. We are one of the few providers who not only use natural eco-friendly products, but we can also offer a range of organic products.

What steps can you take to protect yourself from VOC?

1. Understand ingredients that you want to avoid. Make a list of VOCs and scan cleaning product labels for these before purchasing them. Perhaps the most common product you want to avoid is chlorinated bleach. However, keep in mind that due to prevalence of VOCs, it may be impossible to avoid them entirely.

2. Ventilate areas that you are cleaning. If you cannot ventilate them, spend the minimum amount of time inside while cleaning.

3. Wear equipment to reduce contact, such as specialized masks or thick gloves.

4. Only choose harsh chemicals if you must – always go for natural options if possible. While these may not be as effective for stubborn dirt, they will allow for healthier cleanness.

5. Keep your distance if possible (sometimes there will also be product instructions)

6. Do it yourself. Make cleaning ingredients at home. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon can be powerful products with little risks to your health.

7. Define cleanness for yourself. Do you strive for sparkling windows and polished floors? If you cannot achieve it with natural products, is it worth achieving?

Hazardous to humans and domestic animals

Many products will mention that they are hazardous, and yet, the average household contains up to 100 known toxic chemicals. In the words of a scientist Rebecca Sutton PdD that looks are regulations regarding cleaning products: “In terms of household cleaners, neither ingredients nor products must meet any sort of safety standard, nor is any testing data or notification required before bringing a product to market (2).”

Companies object to accusations regarding their products, often saying that the amounts of toxins are relatively low and unlikely to impact human health. But when we look at this defense, it’s rather hollow. Firstly, how can anybody establish what amount of toxins is necessary to cause illness? We may as well avoid burdening our bodies with these because we simply cannot be sure. Secondly, many of these products are used somewhat frequently. Most households will attempt some sort of cleaning daily, even if it’s just wiping the kitchen counter after a cooking session. Pollution from these chemicals can accumulate within us and become a “toxic burden.” Our livers then become weary of filtering the bad ingredients in our food supply, items that touch our skin and even in our air. When our bodies fight various agents, they create inflammation. Inflammation can also lead to tumor growth. We also know humans don’t have the same immune systems, so if there is a genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger can be more likely to result in illness.
If there are better options, it may just not be worth the risk.


Organizations that monitor household products

It’s a good option to pull information from third party organizations, which specialize in monitoring products on the market. One of the most known such organizations is EWG (Environmental Working Group). They release online reports about popular household products. This online resource is not just dedicated to cleaning products. You can also find information on their website about the health of your tap water, about sunscreens, and about foods you eat. There’s hardly any lifestyle area they don’t cover, so you can use this as a resource if you are in doubt.
They have a big section about household products and launched an app that you can download to test around 200,000 common items available in store.


Ammonia is an ingredient that is widely found in polishing agents, such as glass cleaners. The sparkle comes at a price, though. If inhaled, it can cause lung problems and asthma. People who are exposed to it regularly through professions can develop chronic bronchitis.
The National Library of Medicine writes: “Household and industrial cleaners contain anywhere from 5% to 25% of ammonia in dissolved form. Hence the residents, especially children of such households, are at an increased risk for accidental or suicidal ingestion exposure. The spillage of such products can lead to significant inhalational exposure as well. (5)”
Exposure to this chemical in large quantities can also be fatal. While the amounts in household cleaning products are nowhere at this level, it’s important to note that ammonia in any amount has the potential to be harmful, and once again, it may be best avoided entirely, or at least reduced greatly in our homes.

Phalates, a separate topic

You often won’t find these in labels because companies that use these don’t need to disclose them. This is a huge class of chemicals and not all of them have even been studied. The bad news is that you can find these in many fragrances. As for your cleaning cabinet, they may hide in just about every product, but they are especially toxic when inhaled as aerosols into the lungs. Skip the air-fresheners as well as any aerosols.

In the last ten years, epidemiologic studies have discovered that prenatal exposure to phthalates affects children’s neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral health. Some phalates have been banned in children’s consumer products, but there’s not much legislation regarding adult products, even though CDC’s reports have gotten some attention in Congress. A report about chronic hazards of phalates was published around 2014 (3), but otherwise there’s still much movement to be made in legislation.
Lastly, but not less importantly, phalates are also known to be anti-androgenic. In animal studies, they showed to cause defects in male reproductive tracts if the pregnant mother was dosed.

Given some of this evidence, it’s probably best to avoid these as much as possible, unfortunately, the fact that they are in so many store-bought items makes this quiet challenging.

What about bleach?

Even though it’s not something to talk about over tea, most of us aspire to have a clean toilet bowl in our bathroom. There’s hardly anything more efficient than bleach for this.

It’s cheap, it’s in every grocery store, and it gets the job done. Also, nobody likes to wear a white T-shirt that is actually Gainsboro color. Bleach makes white laundry white and this makes us happy. But, is it worth the trouble? Is it toxic enough to say goodbye forever and move on to vinegar?

Yes, sodium hypochlorite (aka bleach) is toxic and it’s Category 1 on the EPA’s toxicity system. Bleach is bad for humans, for pets, for aquatic life and also for wildlife. As mentioned before, bleach can cause the release of VOCs into the air. Moreover, it’s corrosive to skin and eyes and can cause severe burns. The gases it releases are also corrosive to lungs. Fumes from bleach may also cause DNA damage, thus spurring the growth of cancer. It can also seep out of bottles and accumulate on surfaces, why you can sometimes smell it from a container even if it appears intact. And think twice if you want to use it as remediation for mold – while it may eliminate surface mold, it doesn’t fix mold underneath surfaces and may even introduce water that worsens stubborn mold growth. Bleach will not fix your mold problem, but it will do a good job at hiding it from the visible eye.

Bleach can also become a deadly gas when combined with certain other chemicals, such as ammonia and alcohol. Don’t ever attempt to mix it with anything else but preferable distilled water. This includes mixing it with other household cleaners. Yet, many consumers don’t know this and can multiply its potential for harm with lack of knowledge.

Bleach also made it to another category that raises red flags for anyone with a family. It’s one of the top toxins that cause poisoning in children. The Journal of Pediatrics researched that within a 16-year period, over a quarter million children were rushed to the ER due to bleach exposure (4). No wonder when it’s so affordable and most likely under many cabinet sinks.
In addition to these effects, bleach is also an environmental pollutant. Toxins in bleach, such as dioxins, can stay in water for many years until they disappear. Factories that make bleach also release toxins into the air. Keep in mind that household products that we buy can also influence the world around us.
Given all the evidence, it’s perhaps time to rethink its value as a household cleaner. If you really want your white laundry white, maybe the best option is to wait for a sunny day and hang it outside if possible. If not accessible to you because you don’t have a yard or live in a rainy area, there’s a few natural ways that can help you achieve a fairly good result with none of the cons.
If you must use bleach, then at least do what you can to protect your skin and respiratory tract from harm, and be sure to store it somewhere away from pets and children. Limiting its use to unique circumstances and areas is also a good strategy.


Now that we’ve covered some of the common toxins in household cleaning products, it’s prudent to look at alternatives. As we cruise the cleaning aisle at our local store or supermarket, we want to make good decisions for ourselves and loved ones. Unfortunately, marketing claims can be our enemy in recognizing what’s good for us, because some are not enforceable, others don’t even have definitions.

Some companies use claims that make us feel better, but they are of limited value, such as “phosphate free” detergents which are already phosphate free as the norm. There’s also little value in learning that a sponge is “biodegradable,” and it’s not worth the extra few dollars the company may try to charge for a quality that is inherent.
Here are, however, the labels that are somewhat meaningless in terms of regulations, but may be helpful when making purchase decisions:

When a cleaning product says that it’s green, it could as well be green as in color and that’s it. To achieve a green liquid look, companies can add a significant amount of chemicals as there is no definition of what green means. Usually, however, the label suggests products are safer for human and planet health. It’s a vague label and merits further investigation from consumers.
However, if a product has a green seal, this is an award that recognizes products which meet certain standards and have a sustainability certification. When you see this ecolabel, you know it passed strict standards. Continue to read to learn more about this category.

As for claims that say biodegradable, it’s important to look for details of how quickly the cleaning product degrades. Most products will degrade at some point in time.

Any claims that say “natural” also raise caution. There are no regulations around marketing and labelling products as natural, so such statements also depend on trust in the brand. If companies decide to honor the label, it should mean that within the container, there are only ingredients produced in nature. This isn’t necessarily a guarantee that they are chemical free but it’s usually a sign that such cleaning products may be better for our health and void of any toxic synthetic chemicals. Buying natural cleaning products is a doable option if we are looking to protect your health, especially if we can verify these claims through third party testing.

Not harmful to the environment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not harmful to humans. However, there is a better chance that eco-friendly products are better for us, and they are also less likely to pollute the air in our homes.

Not tested on animals


The following labels have more merit as they imply certifications from third parties:

This indicates products do not use genetically modified organisms or synthetic fertilizers. Usually, this is more applicable to food and beverages, but some cleaning companies go through the trouble of acquiring organic certifications. While we may think that organic is superior to natural, the difference in effect on human health when it comes to cleaning supplies may be relatively minor. However, organic products go through regulations so we can trust the claims better.

These labels show how much of a product contains bio-based ingredients. Bio-based products are wholly or partially derived from materials of biological origin. Such cleaning products are usually derived from plants (derived from living organisms). If a product is fully biobased, it may be an excellent option for a household cleaner.

Certification for products that have reduced environmental impact

Evidence that a product meets a standard for sustainability.


Now that we have a good overview of what’s out there, the last question may be the cost. Buying natural and organic products can be more costly on our wallet, a major reason why in the times of inflation we may want to stick to less expensive options.
The good news is that there are brands available with comparable prices to other “toxic” products. If we are unable to find one that you prefer, there are also ways we can make household cleaners at home for a fraction of the price. They may even smell lovely if you use real essential oils to make them. Most of these will involve mixing vinegar, baking soda, water, apple cider vinegar, rubbing alcohol and lemon.

As humans, we have a vibrant microbiome that protects our immune system. We must keep in mind that excessive cleanness and the use of harsh cleaning products can also affect its diversity. While we don’t want to live in a dirty environment, some dirt is good for our health, especially the right dirt. Studies show that for example children that grow around dishwashers have less diverse microbiome because of it, and are more prone to allergies, than children in households that use a sponge.
Next time you aim for perfection, remember that toxic cleanness can also lead to a weaker immune system. Choosing natural products that are less harsh may be a great option if you are also looking for a healthier life overall. 


Written by Lucie Valemont, Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach and Life Coach

This article is an opinion of the author only. Please consult your doctor, or other qualified professional, if you have questions about any of the above and how it may relate to your health. 


1. California Air Resources Board (CARB). Consumer and Commercial Products Survey—Summary of Sales and Emissions. 2003. Sacramento, CA.
2. 8 Hidden Toxins, “What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products” Accessed 05/09 2023
3. Why phthalates should be restricted or banned from consumer products. Feldsher, Karen. Accessed 05.09. 2023
4. Why You Should Avoid Using Bleach in Your Home. Accessed 05.09. 2023
5. Ammonia Toxicity. Rana Prathap Padappayil; Judith Borger. National Library of medicine. Accessed 05.09.2023


Sentimental cleaning services

Our Price List

Basic Clean

Less than
1500 sq ft


1500 to
3000 sq ft



Recurring Clean

Less than
1500 sq ft


1500 to
3000 sq ft


Move In / Move Out

Less than
1500 sq ft


1500 to
3000 sq ft


Deep Clean

Less than
1500 sq ft


1500 to
3000 sq ft


*Eco-friendly / Organic cleaning products available upon request

Get In Touch

We'd Love To Hear
From You!

Call us today at (619) 800-8895