Less Toxic Alternatives

While it Is important to safely dispose of your household hazardous wastes, the best option is to reduce the use of hazardous materials at the source whenever possible. There are alternatives to buying hazardous substances. Help keep toxic wastes out of the environment, save time involved with proper disposal, and save money with some less toxic alternatives to commercial cleaning products. As always, whenever using a new method it is a good idea to test a small area first before applying a cleaning agent to a whole piece of furniture or carpet. Do you have a tried and true method you don’t see on this list?  Share it by contacting us or posting it on our social media!


Air Freshener/Deodorizer

  • Carpets: Mix one part borax to two parts cornmeal; sprinkle liberally on carpet and vacuum after one hour.
  • Garbage Cans: Sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of can.
  • Garbage Disposal: Grind used lemons or peels in the disposal or pour baking soda into the drain.
  • Litter Box: Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the litter pan before adding litter
  • Other:
    • Leave open boxes of baking soda in refrigerator, freezer, closets and bathrooms.
    • Saturate a cotton ball with vanilla and place in an open container in a room or in an auto.
    • Set out an open container of white vinegar to destroy odors.
    • Simmer cinnamon and cloves or potpourri.
    • Burn scented candles.
    • Fill your favorite vase with locally sourced fresh-cut flowers.


Carpet, Rug & Upholstery

  • Cleaning: When shopping for cleaners, choose non-aerosol, soap-based options.
  • Spills:
    • Clean spills immediately with club soda.
    • Mix a quart of water, a teaspoon of mild liquid soap, a teaspoon of borax and a squeeze of lemon juice or splash of vinegar; apply with a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently; wipe with a clean cloth and allow to dry.
    • To clean a red wine spill, rub a thick layer of salt on the spill. Sponge up after spill has been absorbed.



  • Coffee Pots: Clean out coffee pots with white vinegar solution.
  • Dishes: By Hand: Use 1/2 cup of baking soda with a mild dish washing liquid to help cut grease and food.
  • Automatic Dishwashers: Choose a detergent with the lowest phosphate content listed on the package.
  • General Cleaner: Combine a quart of water with 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or 1-2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.
  • Grout: Combine 3 cups baking soda and 1 cup warm water; scrub into grout. Rinse well.
  • Kitchen Degreaser: Use a non-chlorinated powder with a nylon scouring pad or fine steel wool.
  • Mildew Cleaners: Scrub mildew spots with baking soda or borax, or sponge with white vinegar, or use a paste of lemon juice or white vinegar and salt.
  • Oven Cleaners: Use an oven cleaner that does not contain lye, or scrub spots with baking soda, salt and water paste.
  • Painted Wood: Wash with 1 teaspoon of washing soda in a gallon of hot water.
  • Surface Cleaner: Mix vinegar with salt and water.
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Scrub with a solution of 1/2 cup borax in a gallon of water for cleaning and disinfecting; clean frequently with a baking soda solution around the rim.
  • Scouring Powder: Use baking soda or salt, or a non-chlorinated commercial scouring powder.


Drain Openers

  • Unclogging: Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda down the drain, follow by 1/2 cup vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes, then pour a pan of boiling water down the drain to flush.
  • Preventing Clogs: Once a week, pour 1/4 cup of salt down the drain, followed by boiling water.


Laundry Products

  • Presoaking: Soak heavily soiled items in warm water with 1/2 cup of washing soda for 30 minutes, or rub soiled areas with a mild liquid soap.
  • Whitening: Use a washing soda or non-chlorine bleach.
  • Spot Cleaning and Color Brightening: Use 1/2 cup of borax in each load.
  • Detergent: (1) Use synthetic detergent without adding fabric softeners or bleach, or (2) use products which include washing soda. Washing soda brightens fabrics and costs less than bleach.
  • Fabric Softener: Add a cup of vinegar or 1/4 cup of baking soda during final rinse.
  • Reducing Static: Dampen hands when folding clothes.
  • Spray Starch for Regular Fabrics: Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and a pint of cold water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray Starch for Delicate Fabrics: Mix a package of unflavored gelatin with 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Test solution on corner of fabric before using. If fabric becomes sticky when dry, add more water.


Floor Polishes/Wax

  • Vinyl Floors: Combine 1/4 cup TSP (trisodium phosphate), 1/4 cup borax, or 1/2 cup white vinegar with a gallon of warm water.
    Wood Floors: Use damp mop with a mild vegetable oil soap; dry immediately.
  • Painted or Finished Wood: Combine a teaspoon of washing soda and a gallon of hot water; dry immediately.
  • Wood Floors (sealed with polyurethane): Clean with 1/4 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water; dry immediately.


Furniture Polish

  • Finished Wood: Use a mild vegetable oil soap, or combine one part lemon juice with two parts vegetable or olive oil and polish with a clean, soft cloth.
  • Painted Wood: Mix one teaspoon of washing soda in a gallon of hot water.
  • Unfinished Wood: Polish with mineral oil.


Metal Polishes

  • Brass and Copper: Use a paste of lemon juice and salt.
  • Silver: Rub with toothpaste or baking soda and a soft cloth; rinse and polish with dry clean cloth.
  • Chrome: Wipe with apple cider vinegar and rinse, or shine chrome fixture with baby oil and soft cloth.


Insect Bites

  • Itch Relief: Rub area found the insect bite with apple cider vinegar or baking soda paste.
  • Bee Stings: Apply a thick paste of baking soda and water or rub with an onion cut in half.
  • Chiggers: Rub area with a moist aspirin tablet.
  • Mosquitoes: Soak bites in salt water, then apply cold cream.

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