Clean your home with less toxic alternatives

Are you looking to get some summer cleaning done? There are a variety of store-bought household cleaners for every area of the home, many of which contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both you and the environment. Dr. Rebecca Bruhl, associate director of the Environmental Health Service at Baylor College of Medicine, suggests using homemade cleaning alternatives.

Below are some tips for handling household chemicals, as well as recipes for homemade cleaners, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

  • Always keep household chemicals in their original containers and stored out of reach of children.
  • Follow the instructions on the label including wearing proper clothing and protection such as eye goggles and gloves.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke when using household chemicals.
  • Dispose of household chemicals safely by taking them to a hazardous waste collection site.
  • Do not mix chemicals or products unless the label says it’s safe.

Mildew cleaner

  • Option one: Scrub mildew spots with baking soda or borax.
  • Option two: Scrub area with a paste of lemon juice.
  • Option three: Scrub area using a sponge with white vinegar and salt.
  • To clean mildew from shower curtain: Machine wash with ½ cup soap and ½ cup baking soda. Add 1 cup white vinegar to rinse cycle.

Toilet bowl cleaner

  • Sprinkle ½ cup baking soda into bowl; add 1 teaspoon vegetable-based soap and two drops hydrogen peroxide. Scrub with toilet brush.
  • For moderate stains: Sprinkle bowl with baking/washing soda, moisten with vinegar and scrub with brush.
  • For tough stains: Coat bowl with a paste of lemon juice and borax. Let stand for two hours then scrub.

 Glass cleaner

  • Option one: Combine 1 quart of water with ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or rubbing alcohol. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean with soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Option two: Combine juice from 1 lemon, 2 cups water or club soda, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon peppermint essential oil (optional); shake well and spray on windows.

Laundry cleaning alternatives

  • Bleach alternatives: Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 8 parts water. Soak for ½ hour. Borax also works well as a substitute.
  • Ink stains: Saturate stain with alcohol-based hairspray and blot with rag. Repeat until stain is removed. Launder as usual.
  • Oil stains: Rub white chalk into stain before laundering.
  • Be sure to use phosphate-free soap.

Additional Resources

See more household cleaning alternatives.

Tips to maintain a healthy home

-By Nicole Blanton

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