First, let’s go over what to look for in a healthier shower cleaner. The term “natural” or “chemical-free” on a bottle won’t necessarily tell you anything, since natural has no legally binding definition and all cleaners, even safe ones, contain chemicals. (Heck, water is a chemical.)
So to decide if a product is up to your cleaning standards, you’ll need to check out its ingredient list—if you can find it. The FDA doesn’t actually require cleaning companies to disclose their ingredients to consumers. Lack of transparency is a red flag—especially when it comes to products we’re going to literally bathe in—so skip over any company that doesn’t have this list.
Then onto the next layer of scrutiny: If a product contains chemicals that can harm the environment when rinsed down the drain or worse, harm you when you breathe them in, you’ll want to skip it.
“Some bathroom cleaners may be more acidic (low pH) or basic (high pH) with higher concentrations of acids or alkalis compared to some all-purpose cleaners,” explains Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “These formulas can be irritating or corrosive to eyes, skin and airways and can worsen asthma.”
Some potential problem ingredients in bathroom cleaning products include triclosan (linked to antibiotic resistance), 1,4 Dioxane (potential carcinogen), and 2-butoxyethanol acetate (causes irritation, headache, and vomiting). Geller adds bleach-based products, ammonia or ammonium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide to the list.
Any drain de-clogging liquid you buy will likely contain multiple potentially harmful chemicals, so you’re better off avoiding those altogether and use another method.
Sleuthing through product labels can get tedious. We did the leg work and chose six shower cleaners that are safe, effective, and suitable for a number of different surfaces.