Alternatives: Household Cleaning Products
||Weak acids like vinegar & lemon juice are good at cutting grease.
Mix: 1 quart hot water, 1 tsp vegetable oil-based soap/detergent, 1 tsp borax, & 2 tblsp vinegar. Vinegar is used here as mild acid to cut grease; borax is used as a water softener, good in areas with hard water, to prevent soapy deposits.
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar in 1 quart of warm water.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water for a general cleaner.
Use vegetable oil-based soaps/detergents.
Automatic dishwashing detergents have a very high level of phosphates.
|Products with Drain Openers
||Use a strainer on all drains to reduce plugged drains.
Pour boiling water down the kitchen drain once a week to keep it grease free.
Toss a handful of baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain. Cover the drain, sealing in the carbon dioxide gas bubbles as they agitate your clog loose. Let sit 15 min. Rinse with 2 quarts boiling water. Follow with plunger.
Most bathroom sink clogs are caused by hair. Prevent with a good sink strainer.
Use a metal plumbers snake to unclog stubborn drains. A plumbers snake is a great investment.
Roots in drains:
Do not use copper sulfate-based root control products for drains blocked by roots. This product releases copper into the ground and surface water.
Have drains cleared by a professional who uses mechanical root removal techniques or non-metallic, foaming herbicides.
Have breaks in sewer lines repaired to prevent further entry of roots.
||1/4 cup white vinegar / 1 qt. water.
The pros use a squeeze of dishwashing liquid in gal. water.
A quality squeegee is the pro's secret to streakless windows.
||Mix 2 table spoons liquid dish soap & 2 teaspoons borax in 2 cups of warm water. Apply and let sit for 20 minutes, then scrub.
Use a non-chlorinated scouring powder, like Bon Ami.
Use a baking soda, salt, and water paste.
Clean glass oven door with Bon Ami. Use razor blade or spatula for tough spots.
Avoid aerosol oven cleaners. Easy-off brand has a non-caustic formula with no lye (sodium hydroxide).
Don't use any abrasive cleaning materials on self-cleaning ovens.
Periodically clean the oven with baking soda and water.
Protect oven floor from spills. Always place a cookie sheet or foil pan under pans to catch drippings.
||Scrub mildew spots with borax/water with a nylon scouring pad. If plaster wall is penetrated by mold, leave a borax/water paste on the wall for a couple days. Vacuum off.
Try scrubbing mildew with a vinegar and salt paste, if problem is not severe.
To clean mildew from a shower curtain use a mixture of 1/2 cup borax/1 gal water
Or, try vinegar full strength, then rinse.
Or, machine wash curtain, with a towel. Add 1 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.
Wash grout often enough so mold can't get established.
Always air out damp areas.
Seal grout after cleaning by painting grout with a water sealer.
To inhibit mold and mildew, wash area with 1/2 cup borax/1 gallon hot water.
Use a very dilute bleach solution of 1/4 cup to 1 gallon water.
Keep a small squeegee in the shower.
|Rug, Carpet & Upholstery
||Regular vacuuming will keep dirt from getting ground in.
||Clean up spills right away. You will be less likely to require high strength cleaners.
Pour club soda on a spill and blot.
Use a non-aerosol, soap-based cleaner.
Mix 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon vegetable-oil-based soap/detergent, 1 teaspoon borax, and a splash of vinegar; apply with a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently; blot.
|Toilet Bowl Cleaners
||Use mix of 1/2 cup borax /1 gal. water to clean and deodorize.
Let 1 cup borax sit in the bowl overnight.
Coat stains in toilet bowl with paste of lemon juice and borax. Let sit about 20 min. and scrub with bowl brush.
Clean frequently with a solution of baking soda and water; sprinkle baking soda around the rim.
Avoid solid toilet bowl deodorizers that contain paradichlorobenzene.
Some toilet bowl-cleaning products contain acids (read labels). If acids are mixed with a cleaner containing chlorine (like bleach), toxic chlorine gas is released.
|Tub & Sink Cleaner
||Use baking soda like a scouring cleanser. Use non-chlorinated cleanser (e.g. Bon Ami). Very effective and doesn't dissolve as fast as baking soda.
Try fine grain wet/dry sandpaper (400 grit) to remove pot marks in porcelain sinks (gentler than common scouring cleansers).
Chlorinated cleansers may still be necessary to remove stubborn stains in porcelain.
Caution: chlorinated cleansers contain bleach which can react with other cleaners that contain ammonia or acids, to form dangerous gases.
To remove mineral deposits around faucets, cover deposits with strips of paper towels, soaked in vinegar. Let set for 1 hour and clean.
Note: Hard water means the water has a high mineral content (e.g. calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.). This often results in whitish mineral deposits left on faucets, shower doors, drains, windows. Vinegar, a weak acid, can dissolve many of these deposits.
||Use detergents that don't contain phosphates. Liquid laundry detergents do not have phosphates. Fortunately, non-phosphate detergents have been shown to clean very well.
Use simple laundry soap. Cleans better if a water softener like borax, washing soda, or baking soda is added to prevent soap scum residue.
Consider installing a water conditioner in your home. Softens hard water; lets soap work better.
Use products which contain "washing soda." Washing soda brightens fabrics, costs less than bleach and is safer to have around.
||Use non-chlorine dry bleach or washing soda to whiten clothes.
Use hydrogen peroxide-based liquid bleaches. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water and oxygen in wastewater.
If you use chlorine bleach, try using half the recommended amount and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda per load.
Limit use of bleaches where possible.
||To clean vinyl tile and linoleum, use 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup of washing soda, in 1 gallon warm water.
Remove scuff marks on linoleum with toothpaste.
To clean wood floors, damp mop with a mild vegetable oil soap and dry immediately.
For painted or varnished wood floors, mix 1 teaspoon washing soda & 1 gallon hot water; rinse with clear water. Dry immediately.
To clean polyurethane-sealed wood floors, use 1/4 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon water. Dry immediately.
||For leather shoes, apply olive oil, walnut oil, or beeswax to shoes then buff with a chamois cloth.
To clean leather, rub equal parts of white vinegar and linseed oil into leather; buff with soft cloth.
To shine and protect patent leather shoes, rub with a dab of petroleum jelly.
To clean dirt marks from suede, rub with an art-gum eraser and buff lightly with sandpaper, an emery board or a wire suede brush.
Avoid products containing trichloroethylene (TCE), trichloroethane (TCA), methylene chloride, nitrobenzene. If you use conventional shoe polish, use in well-ventilated area.
||Polish unvarnished wood with almond, walnut, or olive oil. Work it in well and wipe off excess. Oily surfaces attract dirt.
To clean and polish varnished wood, use a mild vegetable oil soap.
Use linseed oil to revitalize old furniture.
Wash painted wood with a mix of 1 teaspoon washing soda in a gallon of hot water; rinse with clear water.
To remove watermarks from wood furniture, rub toothpaste on spot and polish with a soft cloth.
||Brass: Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup white vinegar with enough flour to make a paste. Apply thickly. Let sit for 15 min-1/2 hr. Rinse thoroughly with water to avoid corrosion.
Copper: Polish with a paste of lemon juice and salt.
Silver: Boil silver 3 minutes in a quart of water containing:
1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and a piece of aluminum foil.
Or, rub silver with a baking soda/water paste and a soft cloth; rinse and polish dry.
Or, rub with toothpaste.
Use a toothbrush to clean raised surfaces. Be careful not to scratch surfaces. Be gentle and use a light hand.
Chrome: Wipe with vinegar, rinse with water, then dry. (Good for removing hard water deposits.)
Or, shine chrome fixtures with baby oil and a soft cloth. (Good for removing soap scum off faucets.)
Stainless steel: Clean and polish with a baking soda/water paste or a cleanser like Bon Ami.
||Remove the plastic bags from fresh dry cleaning and air the clothing out before hanging in your closet. This will limit your exposure to perchloroethylene, the solvent used in dry cleaning.
Hand wash, where possible. Ask questions about cleaning options when you buy the clothes.
Buy clothes that don't require dry cleaning (e.g. washable rayon or silk)
||To freshen and soften natural-fiber clothing, add 1 cup vinegar or 1/4 cup baking soda during final rinse.
To reduce "static cling" in synthetics, line dry clothes. Or remove clothes from the dryer while they are still slightly damp.
||Soak heavily-soiled items in warm water with 1/2 cup washing soda for 30 minutes.
||Use your regular laundry detergent as a Remover booster. Make a paste from a powder detergent or pour a liquid detergent directly on a stain. Rub into stain with toothbrush. Then launder as usual.
Spot & Stain Removers
||Avoid products with 1,1,1-trichloroethane on Fabrics (TCA) or naphthalene.
Blood: Immediately clean stain with club soda or sponge with cold water; "bleach" with 1/4 cup borax in 2 cups water. Sponge with cold water and rinse.
- Or, saturate with hydrogen peroxide. Let sit a couple of min. and wash. May bleach out color, so test first.
Chocolate and coffee: Soak in cold water, rub with soap and a borax solution, rinse, then launder. If necessary, rub with a borax/water paste.
Fruit stains: Soak in cold water 30 minutes; rub soap into remaining stain; then wash; "bleach" with lemon juice and sunlight, if needed.
- Or, soak in vinegar.
Grease: Apply paste of cornstarch and water. Brush off when dry.
- Or, cover spot with baking soda or cornmeal. Let absorb the grease and brush off.
- Or, scrub spot with toothpaste.
- Or, sponge grease spot on suede with a cloth dipped in white vinegar; dry, brush off.
Ink: Tough to get out. Try saturating stain with milk.
- Or, sponge stain with alcohol.
- Or, apply cream of tartar and lemon juice paste. Set for 1 hr.
Lipstick: Rub with cold cream or shortening to dissolve color; rinse area with solution of washing soda and warm water to remove grease; wash in soapy water.
Oil: Rub white chalk into stain before laundering.
- Or, scrub spot with toothpaste.
Stains Perspiration: Pretty tough, but try sponging stain with a weak solution of white vinegar or lemon juice, and water.
Rust stains from clothing: Moisten spot with lemon juice, sprinkle with salt, and leave in the sun for a couple of days.
- Or, try a "waterless" auto mechanic's hand cleaner.
Tea: Stretch fabric over a basin and pour boiling water over the stain; wash as usual.
Wine: Blot with paper towels to absorb wine. Then apply either club soda, rubbing alcohol, borax or white wine to blot out the stain.
||Rub with moist baking soda, cornstarch on Porcelain or salt.
Tougher stains: Make a paste using 3 tablespoons borax and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; scrub with nylon scouring pad and rinse with water.
||Phosphates contribute arsenic to surface and ground water. Choose a detergent with low phosphate content. Unless your water is very hard, you should get good results using half the recommended amount in your dishwasher.
Sprinkle a handful of baking soda over the dishes instead of filling the open dispenser with detergent.
Camping: Never wash with soap directly in a lake or stream. The chemicals in soap are toxic to fish and other marine life. Wash in buckets or pots and use soap that biodegrades quickly. Drain wash water onto the ground, well away from the water's edge.
Disinfectants: Soap and hot water is sufficient for most of your household cleaning needs.
For the occasional disinfecting job (e.g. to kill germs on your meat cutting board; to wash down shower stall floor to prevent spread of athletes foot fungus; to prevent mold growth in damp areas) mix: 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach in a gallon of water.
Any container holding a bleach solution should be child-proof and well-labeled.
Hydrogen peroxide (sold in a 3% solution) is effective against viruses.
Keep surfaces dry. Bacteria, viruses, mildew, and mold generally cannot live without dampness.
Borax has been shown to have disinfecting qualities. Mix 1/2 cup in 1 gallon water. (Note: Borax has not been through EPA's stringent testing that qualifies a material as a disinfectant.)
Note: Disinfecting your toilet may be an exercise in futility. Any household cleaner can clean the toilet, even baking soda.
Air Fresheners & Deodorizers
||If there is an odor, address the problem directly by cleaning or removing the cause.
Open doors and windows.
Use a stove fan when cooking.
Leave baking soda in open containers in refrigerator, closets, and bathrooms.
Most air freshener products either mask the odor or contain chemicals that desensitize your nose. They also contain chemicals that contribute to air pollution.
Avoid products that contain paradichlorobenzene.
Air fresheners/disinfectants don't disinfect the air when sprayed into the air. They are disinfectants only when sprayed on surfaces.
To scent the air:
Set out potpourri in open dishes.
Simmer cinnamon and cloves.
Burn scented candles.
||For carpets, sprinkle a mix of baking soda, borax and cornmeal liberally on carpet. Wait an hour or overnight. Vacuum.
Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of cat box before adding kitty litter.
Sprinkle borax in the bottom of garbage cans to inhibit the growth of odor-producing molds and bacteria.