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Cleaning Products

The variety of household cleaning products on the market today is overwhelming. There are products on the shelves for every possible need, and we are encouraged through advertising to buy them all.

We might be better off if we avoided using these cleansers. Many contain hazardous chemicals that can cause everything from skin irritations to reproductive disorders, aggravation of respiratory diseases, and maybe even cancer. Many cleansers are also flammable, caustic and reactive with other materials.

Many cleaning products also pollute the environment. Even small amounts of detergents, solvents, aerosol propellants, dyes, perfumes and fillers add up to a large load of pollutants for our air and water.

There are alternatives to these hazardous household cleaning products, alternatives that are simpler, safer and more economical. Less toxic household cleansers can be made right at home with a few simple ingredients. You may already have many of them in your kitchen cupboard. Recipes for these "miracle" cleaning formulas appear below.

Recipes for Alternative Cleaning Solutions

All-Purpose Household Cleaner
1 quart warm water
1 tsp. Liquid soap
1tsp. Borax
Squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar

*This solution can be used for a multitude of cleaning jobs including countertops, floors, walls, rugs, and upholstery.

Air Freshener
  • Leave open boxes of baking soda in refrigerators, closets and bathrooms.
  • Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Use stove fan when cooking.
  • Use flowers, herbs, and spices to add subtle fragrances to indoor air.
Drain Opener
½ cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
Boiling water

*Dissolve baking soda and vinegar in boiling water, and pour the solution down the drain. Continue to flush with hot tap water until the clog breaks.

Degreaser (engine and tool)
Use a water-based cleaner in place of kerosene, turpentine, and commercial engine degreaser.

Degreaser (kitchen)
Use a nonchlorinated scouring powder with abrasive scouring pad or fine steel wool.

Use ½ cup borax with 1 gallon water. To inhibit mildew, do not rinse off borax solution.

Floor Cleaner
  • Vinyl floors: ½ cup vinegar or ¼ cup borax with 1 gallon water. Polish with club soda.
  • Wood floors: damp mop with mild vegetable oil soap
Furniture Polish
1 pint mineral oil with a few drops of lemon juice

Glass Cleaner
¼ cup vinegar in 1 quart warm water. Do not use this as a windshield wiper solution as it may damage the pump-use plain water.

Mildew Cleaner
Scrub with baking soda or borax; for extended mold inhibition, do not rinse off.

Oven Cleaner
  • Scrub with 2 tbsp. or more of baking soda or borax in 1 gallon of water, using a very fine steel wool (0000). Wear gloves. For very baked-on spots, try scrubbing with pumice (available at hardware stores).
  • As a last resort, use a pump oven cleaner that says, "No caustic fumes" and "No lye."
Rug and Upholstery Cleaner
Use the All-Purpose Household Cleanser.

Scouring Powder
Use baking soda or a nonchlorinated commercial scouring powder.

Spot Remover
  • All-Purpose: ¼ borax in 2 cups cold water, soak the stain prior to washing as usual.
  • Blood: Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly on the stain, rinse with water and wash as usual.
  • Ink: Apply a past of lemon juice an cream of tartar; allow it to dry, then wash as usual.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Scrub with baking soda or mild detergent.

Tub/Tile Cleaner
Use scouring powder or baking soda.

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