Clean Your Home without Toxic Chemicals

Dust, mold, stains, and dirt are inevitable in any household. Environmentally friendly cleaners not only tackle these common household issues, but can also lower waste production.

Switching from toxic chemicals to environmentally friendly cleaners can eliminate hazardous waste-related accidents that can affect an individual’s health and safety. Creating your own cleaning solution can also reduce the time and cost associated with bringing hazardous waste directly to San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program for special disposal. Lastly, having safer cleaning products can lead to developing healthier habits sooner as some of these cleaning alternatives can be found right in your pantry!

Let’s jump into some examples of common household hazardous chemicals:

Examples of Common Household Chemicals

  • Bleach
  • Drain cleaner
  • Shower cleaner
  • Degreaser
  • Antifreeze
  • Automotive cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Paint strippers and removers
  • Pool Cleaner

How Can Toxic Chemicals Be Harmful?

  • Prolonged exposure to chemicals can lead to adverse reproductive risks and cancer-related illness
  • Can cause irritation to skin and eyes
  • Can cause corrosion to pipes
  • Can catch fire, react, or explode
  • Some chemicals can deplete the atmospheric ozone
  • Can lead to groundwater contamination when disposed improperly in landfills
  • Chemicals that enter storm drains can pollute the water we drink and swim in, and pollute the marine life in the water
  • Hazardous to children and pets if left unguarded around the house
  • Certain types of HHW have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets

Tips to Reduce Cleaning Waste

When purchasing cleaning supplies for long term usage, keep an eye out for these:

  • Refillable bottles
  • Paper packaging
  • Recycled-content packaging
  • Pump sprays rather than aerosols
  • Reusable towels
  • Purchasing in bulk

Preventative Measures

  • Clean and dry any damp or wet areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and dehumidifiers
    • Increasing ventilation
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
  • Wiping up spills and stains immediately can reduce the need for stronger solvents
  • Increasing monthly cleaning routines reduces the need for household chemicals 

Cleaning Alternatives

All Purpose Cleaner:2 cups water, 2 cups distilled vinegar, (Optional: Juice of 1 large lemon or 20-30 drops of tea tree oil for fragrance and antibacterial properties) Mix ingredients, spray on surface, and wipe after 5 minutes.
Deodorizer:Sprinkle carpet(s) with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes and vacuum. Repeat if necessary.
Drain Cleaner:The first option is to use a plunger or plumber’s snake. The second option is to pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow up with half a cup of vinegar. After 15 minutes, follow with 2 quarts of boiling water.
Glass Cleaner:Mix one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in one quart of water. Spray on and use newspaper to dry.
Furniture Polish:Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice in one pint of mineral or vegetable oil and wipe furniture.
Limescale Remover for Kettle:Lemon wedges and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the burner off, and let the kettle sit for a few hours. Rinse with clear water.
Silver Polish:Boil two to three inches of water in a shallow pan with one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of baking soda and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for two to three more minutes. Wipe away tarnish and repeat if necessary.
Mothballs:Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint or white peppercorns.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner:¼ cup baking soda mixed with 1 cup vinegar; pour into toilet bowl and let it sit before scrubbing
Weed Remover:30% Vinegar. Spray over weeds
Check out these products instead of household chemicals:EPA certified products
More safe cleaning tips can be found via San Mateo County Environmental Health

We hope that these tips help you reduce toxic chemicals in your home! Share with us how you have switched to greener cleaning products this season by tagging us on social media! Facebook | Twitter | Instagram