Nonhazardous Alternatives

There are many nonhazardous alternatives to more toxic household chemicals.

  • Buy 1 product that will accomplish many tasks, instead of a separate cleaner for every chore. This reduces the cleaning budget, the need for storage, and the amount of leftover products in your home.
  • To avoid clogging drains, use a strainer to trap food particles and hair, collect grease in cans rather than pouring it down the drain.
  • To keep drains clear and fresh smelling, mix and apply 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar. Let stand in drain for 5-10 minutes. Flush with hot water.
  • Windows can be cleaned with a mixture of 2 cups each vinegar and water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Use newspaper for a lint free finish.
  • For rug deodorizer, mix 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part borax. Sprinkle over rug and leave for 1hour, then vacuum.
  • To polish furniture, combine 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice.
  • Processed manure or fish emulsion is a good substitute for chemical fertilizers.
  • Lime and mineral deposits can be softened for removal by covering vinegar soaked rags or paper towels. Leave rags or paper towels on for about1 hour before cleaning. Deposits clogging metal shower heads, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 quart water. Completely submerge the shower head and boil for 15 minutes. Plastic shower head, combine 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for 1 hour.
  • Metal cleaner/polish. To remove stains and discoloration from aluminum cookware, fill cookware with hot water and add 2 tablespoons crème of tartar to each quart of water. Bring solution to a boil and simmer ten minutes. Wash as usual and dry. Clean and polish unlacquered brass to a shine with a soft cloth dampened with Worcestershire sauce. To clean tarnish off gold and silver (not silver plate), use toothpaste and a soft toothbrush or cloth. Rinse with clean warm water and polish dry. Copper pots and stainless steel with salt and vinegar.
  • Clean stains from coffee cups and dishes with baking soda and vinegar.
  • To clean, disinfect, and deodorize, use a mixture of 1/2 cup borax and 1 gallon hot water.
  • Pests. Boric acid will kill ants and roaches when spread liberally around points of entry. Boric acid has some toxicity and should not be applied to areas where small children and animals are likely to contact it.
  • Rethink pesticides. Pesticides are essentially poisons. Products that have been formulated to kill bugs, weeds, fungus, rodents, and other pests are not only deadly for their intended victims, but they can also harm others that come into contact with it, including humans and pets.
  • Spot remover. Rinse or sponge blood and chocolate stains immediately with club soda. Repeat as necessary. Wash as usual. To remove ink stains, put crème of tartar on the stain and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over it. Rub into the stain for a minute, brush off the powder, and sponge with warm water or launder.
  • Generally, water-based products are safer for the environment then petroleum-based items.

Other source of information: Consumer Product Safety Commission, 800-638-2772.

Though much effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, the City of Annapolis assumes no responsibility and disclaims any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information specified in this publication.