De-Tox Your Home: Replace Toxic Cleaners With These Easy Alternatives

(Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District)


  • Replace with products in pump bottle or wipe on liquids.
  • For an all purpose cleaner: Mix one cup of baking soda in one gallon hot water or;
  • Mix ¼ cup borax and one tablespoon liquid soap in one gallon of hot water.

Bug Spray

  • Eliminate food and water sources such as crumbs and leaky faucets.
  • Caulk openings around windows, floors, and pipes.
  • Use nontoxic traps. Boric acid is a good, less toxic powder to apply along cracks and baseboards.


  • Baking soda is a good all purpose deodorizer.
  • Sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda on rugs, then vacuum.
  • Zeolite is a nontoxic mineral that absorbs odors, bacteria, and mold. It is available as a powder or in “breather bags.”


  • Plain soap and hot water kill some bacteria.
  • Citrus-based products have anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial properties and act as solvents.
  • Mix ¼ cup borax with ¼ cup white vinegar in hot water for all purpose disinfectant.

Drain Cleaners

  • Use ¼ cup baking soda followed by ½ cup vinegar, and cover until fizzing stops. Then flush with boiling water.
  • A weekly dose of boiling water poured down the drain will help prevent clogging.
  • Use a plunger or drain snake on major clogs.

Glass Cleaner

  • Mix vinegar and water, 50/50, in a pump bottle, spray surfaces, then clean and dry with crumpled newspaper.

Household Batteries

  • Use solar power, wind-up watches, rechargeable batteries, or AC adapter.

Laundry Products

  • Use soap flakes and borax or washing soda and borax instead of detergent.
  • Use borax instead of bleach.
  • Treat stains immediately when possible.
  • Blood Stains: Soak in cold water, club soda, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Perspiration stains: Dab with a sponge soaked in a weak solution of water with vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Ink Stains: Apply a paste of cream of tarter and lemon juice.
  • Chocolate stains: Soak in club soda.

Metal Polishes

  • Brass—Rub with olive oil to retard tarnish.
  • Chrome—Polish with baby oil.
  • Silver—Soak in boiling water with baking soda, salt and aluminum foil.
  • Copper—Use a paste of lemon juice and cream of tarter, leave on for 5 minutes, wash in warm water, rub with a dry, soft cloth.


  • Substitute cedar blocks or chips for moth balls.
  • Vacuum often and clean closets, baseboards, and cracks in the floors.
  • Store clean clothes in a sealed box or in a cedar box or chest.

Oven Cleaners

  • Cover the soiled oven surface with a baking soda paste, let stand from one hour to overnight, then scrub with a sponge or abrasive pad.

Scouring Powder

  • Use baking soda paste.
  • Try a pumice stick on porcelain surfaces.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

  • Leave borax to soak in the toilet, then scrub.
  • Pumice stone will remove stains.
  • For rings, mix borax and lemon juice into a paste, let sit for two hours, then scrub with a good brush.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

  • Use ½ cup of borax in hot water.
  • Wipe bath tubs with vinegar. Then sprinkle with baking soda, scrub with a damp sponge, and rinse.

Source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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