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Household Chemical Alternatives: Mix Your Own

Looking for alternatives to hazardous household chemicals? You can mix your own. As with commercial preparations, use your homemade cleaners with care and be patient. Many may not work as quickly as commercial products. The benefit to you is less hassle disposing of leftovers and containers combined with a healthier environment for you and your family.

Household Chemical Alternatives: Mix Your Own

Glass cleaner: Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart water.

Bleach: Substitute borax, lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide.

Furniture/floor polish: Mix 1 teaspoon lemon oil with 1 pint mineral, olive or vegetable oil.

Wall cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup borax, 2 teaspoons dishwashing liquid, and 1 gallon warm water. May add dash of lemon juice or vinegar.

Rug shampoo: Mix 1 quart white vinegar and 3 quarts boiling water.

Rug deodorizer: Apply baking soda liberally and leave for 15 minutes before vacuuming.

Disinfectants: Use rubbing alcohol or 1/2 cup borax combined with 1 gallon hot water.

Roach killers: Mix baking soda with powdered sugar.

Ant killers: Discourage entry with chili powder.

Drain cleaners: Use plunger, then flush with mixture of boiling water, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup vinegar.

Silver polish: Soak in boiling water with baking soda, salt, and a piece of aluminum.

Abrasive cleaners: Rub with cut lemon dipped in borax, then rinse.

SOURCE: The Terrene Institute in Dulles, Virginia

Clean Living, Without the Side Effects

Fasten your apron strings and mix up a brew of these Bay-friendly cleaning concoctions. They work, they cost only pennies per gallon, and they won't harm you or the environment.

  • For an all-purpose cleaner: mix a cup of vinegar in a pail of water.

  • To disinfect, use one-half cup borax or sodium carbonate (washing soda) dissolved in a gallon of hot water.

  • Wash windows and mirrors with one part vinegar to every four parts water, or add 3T ammonia to the solution.

  • To deodorize carpets, sprinkle with baking soda. Vacuum after 30 minutes.

  • Oven cleaners containing lye and ammonia are especially toxic. For a healthier alternative, mix two teaspoons borax and two tablespoons liquid soap in a spray bottle of water. Scrub vigorously.

  • Use phosphate-free laundry soaps. There are plenty to choose from on your grocer's shelves.

  • To polish furniture, mix 2 tsp. lemon oil and 1 pint mineral oil in a spray bottle.

  • Toilets: pour 1/2 cup liquid chlorine bleach into bowl, let stand for 30 minutes, scrub and then flush.

  • Tub-and-tile: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water.

  • Drains: 1 cup each - baking soda, salt, and white vinegar. Pour into drain. Wait 15 minutes. Flush with boiling water.

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