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Hazardous Product Alternatives

Making your own household cleaning products is not only less expensive, it is safer for you and for the environment. There's less packaging too!

You can use the All Purpose Cleaner - directions on right - for many applications around your home. Use it to clean surfaces such as walls, floors, woodwork, counters and tile.

Oven Cleaner
Commercial oven cleaners are corrosive to skin and eyes. The best strategy for dealing with ovens is to line the bottom with aluminum foil or a metal tray that can be removed and cleaned in the sink. Spills are easier to clean up if attacked before they are baked on. Sprinkle tough spots with dry baking soda and leave for 15 minutes. Then scrub with a damp cloth. Put baking soda on a wet sponge to clean the glass oven door.

Refrigerator Freshener
Put a dish of pure vanilla or an open box of baking soda in the fridge.

Bathroom Cleaners & Disinfectants
Bathroom cleaners need to be able to handle soap scum and mildew. Many commercial bathroom cleaners are marketed as disinfectants that kill germs. A good general purpose cleaner and a scouring powder are all that is needed in most homes.

Drain Cleaners
Use a plunger or mechanical snake and flush drain with 1/4 cup of baking soda followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let stand for a few minutes then pour in boiling water.

A strainer in your drain may help prevent clogs from forming. Pouring boiling water down your drains once a week should help too.

Spot Removers
Stains: For blood, mildew, butter, chocolate, coffee, mud or urine, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in 2 cups of cold water. Dab on stain and let dry, then wash as usual. For stubborn stains, dab spot with a cloth dampened with 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 1 quart of cold water. If this fails, try straight vinegar. Club soda or immediate cold water is considered a safe and effective spot remover for most stains. Ink stains should be soaked in milk. Wine stains can be removed by pouring salt and then cold soda water on the stain immediately. Soak in milk before washing. Gum: Rub with ice and gum will scrape off. Grease: Use borax on a damp cloth.

Silver Polish
Soak silver in 1 quart warm water with 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt and a small piece of aluminum foil.

Brass Polish
Mix equal parts salt and flour with a bit of vinegar and rub. Polish with worcestershire sauce. Don't forget to wear your gloves.

Furniture & Floor Polish
Dissolve 1 tsp. lemon oil into 1 pint of mineral oil. Polish unvarnished wood with olive, peanut or almond oil. Rub toothpaste on wood furniture to remove watermarks.

Rug & Upholstery Cleaners
To clean and deodorize carpets, vacuum; sprinkle liberally with baking soda then vacuum again. Or, clean and deodorize carpets by mixing together 2 cups of cornmeal and 1 cup of borax. Sprinkle on carpets, leave for one hour and vacuum. For tough stains, try cold soda water or blot repeatedly with vinegar and soapy water. Always test for color fastness on a hidden section of carpet.

Litter Box Freshener
Place baking soda or borax in the bottom of your pet's litter box.

Everyday Cleanups

All Purpose Cleaner

1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 litres of warm water
Mix all ingredients together. For tough grease and grime, you can add a 1/2 cup of ammonia. Be careful though, ammonia when mixed with bleach produces deadly fumes.


Glass Cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup warm water

Stir until mixed. Pour into a bowl or spray dispenser. This cleaner will effectively remove greasy fingerprints. Ball up old newspapers and rub on windows sprayed with mixture.


Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Mix baking soda and water and use a brush to clean the bowl. To disinfect, add a little borax and let it stand for 30 minutes and then scrub.

Drop 1000 mg of vitamin C in the bowl and leave overnight, then scrub.The bad news is that frequent cleaning is the answer!


Laundry Detergent

1/3 cup washing soda
1 1/2 cups soap flakes

Add 1/3 cup of washing soda as water is filling washer. Add clothes.Then add 1 1/2 cups of soap.Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften clothes.


Carpet Shampoo

1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent
1/2 litre of boiling water

Mix dish soap and boiling water. Let cool. Whip the paste into a stiff foam and apply to carpets with a damp sponge. Work into carpets, a small area at a time. Wipe off excess suds. Rinse with one cup of white vinegar mixed in 4 litres of luke warm water. Dry and vacuum.


In the Garden

Instead of chemical fertilizers, use organic compost, and fishmeal. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn instead of raking them. If you practice grass cycling, the nutrients from the clippings will be reabsorbed into the soil. When you think about it, if you fertilize your lawn too much it will grow faster and you will have to cut it more often. Do you really want to spend every Saturday cutting the lawn?

Pesticides & Herbicides
Ant Control: Pour a line of cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika or dried peppermint at point of entry. Garden Insects: Use organic gardening techniques. Strong hosing washes insects from plants. Pull weeds instead of using herbicides. The leaves of houseplants can be washed with soapy water and then rinsed.

Fly Killers
Keep garbage cans clean. Wash and sprinkle dry cans with pure soap after they have dried. As an alternate, use flypaper strips available at hardware stores.


If someone in your home has a special medical problem, consult your physician before switching to alternative cleansers.


The above collection of alternatives was compiled from a variety of sources. It is not intended to be all inclusive. Where no alternative for a hazardous product exists, follow product instructions precisely and use the Hazardous Special Waste Depot to dispose of leftover product.