One of the best means of avoiding exposure to household hazardous materials is to use safer alternatives whenever possible. Included in this section are time honored recipes and suggestions to help you make the switch toward safer household products. Ingredients followed by instructions will guide you through an array of easy-to-make, easy-to-use safer alternatives. Some ingredients recommended as alternatives are safer, but not nontoxic. These ingredients have been marked with an asterisk(*) to assist you in identifying their presence. Making your own simple and effective products is fun and economical.
Most commercial air fresheners do not freshen the air at all. Instead, they mask one odor with another, coat your nasal passages with an undetectable oil film, or diminish your sense of smell with a nerve-deadening agent. For a safer alternative, you may wish to try
one of the following.
Ventilation. Open windows or doors in the house for at least a short period every day. This will also help to reduce toxic fumes that may be building up indoors.
Vinegar. Distribute partially filled saucers of vinegar around the room or boil 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 cup of water to eliminate unpleasant cooking odors.
Cinnamon and Cloves. Boil these spices for a fragrant smell. For ease of cleaning, make a cheesecloth bag to contain these spices, and boil the cheesecloth bag. An excellent alternative when entertaining is to steep spiced tea or cider.
Potpourri. Buy or make your own potpourri from your favorite herbs and spices. Place the potpourri in a small basket or jar or in small sachet bags.
Kitchen And Food Odors
Vanilla*. Place pure vanilla on a cotton ball in a small saucer. Place the saucer in the car or refrigerator to remove odors. It is reported to remove even skunk odors. Keep the cotton ball out of reach of children; vanilla has a high alcohol content.
Baking Soda. Place a partially filled saucer of baking soda on the refrigerator shelf. Replace every two months and when you do, pour the contents of the used box down the drain to remove odors and keep the drain clean. Baking soda can also be used to deodorize bottles by filling them with undiluted baking soda and allowing the bottles to soak overnight. Then wash as usual.
Borax*. Empty the garbage frequently and clean the can as needed. To inhibit growth of odor-producing molds and bacteria, sprinkle 1/2 cup Borax in the bottom of the garbage can.
Vinegar or Celery Stalk. To avoid or remove onion odors from your hands, rub white vinegar on your hands before and after slicing. Rubbing hands with the end of a celery stalk will also remove the odor.
Vinegar and Salt. Mix together for a good surface cleaner.
Baking Soda. Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner. Or use baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Carpet And Rug Cleaner
IF YOU PLAN TO SHAMPOO YOUR CARPET, FIRST TRY A PRE-CLEANING TREATMENT. Sweep the carpet, which will make the nap stand up and loosen the imbedded din. Next vacuum. With this work alone, the rug should show a noticeable improvement, so much in fact that you may decide to delay the shampooing.
To neutralize odors: Borax* and cornmeal. Sprinkle the carpet with a mixture of 1 cup Borax and 2 cups cornmeal. Let this mixture stand for an hour before vacuuming.
Another alternative is Baking Soda. Making certain that the carpet is dry, sprinkle baking soda liberally over the entire carpet. Wait at least 15 minutes, or overnight if the odor is particularly bad, before vacuuming.
Vinegar. To remove no-slip decals from the bathtub, saturate a cloth or sponge and squeeze hot vinegar over decals. Vinegar also removes stick-on hooks from painted walls. Saturate a cloth or sponge with vinegar and squeeze the liquid behind the hook so that the vinegar comes in contact with the adhesive. In addition, vinegar can be used to remove price tags and other decals from glass, wood, and china. Paint the label or decal with several coats of white vinegar. Give the vinegar time to soak in and after several minutes the decal can be rubbed off.
Soap. Regular cleaning with plain soap and hot water will kill some bacteria. Keep things dry. Mold, mildew, and bacteria cannot live without moisture.
Borax has long been recognized for its disinfectant and deodorizing properties. Mix 1/2 cup Borax into 1 gallon hot water and clean with this solution.
Isopropyl Alcohol*. This is an excellent disinfectant. Sponge and allow to dry. (It must dry to do its job.) Use in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.
Drain Cleaners and Drain Openers
Prevention. To avoid clogging drains, use a drain strainer to trap food particles and hair; collect grease in cans rather than pouring it down the drain; pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain weekly to melt fat that may be building up in the drain; or weekly put
some vinegar and baking soda down your drain to break down fat and keep your drain smelling fresh.
Plunger. A time-honored drain opener is the plunger. This inexpensive tool will usually break up the clog and allow it to float away. It may take more than a few plunges to unclog the drain.
Baking Soda and Vinegar. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down fatty acids into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain.
Salt and Baking Soda. Pour 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit overnight and then flush with water. The hot water should help dissolve the clog and the baking soda and salt serve as an abrasive to break
through the clog.
Floor Cleaners and Floor Polishes
Vinegar. A few drops in the cleaning water will help remove grease panicles. Dull, greasy film on no-wax linoleum can be washed away with 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed into 1/2 gallon water. Your floor will look sparkling clean.
For Linoleum: Mild Detergent. Damp mop using a mild detergent and water for day to day cleaning. Keep water away from seams and edges to prevent loosening of the tiles. To preserve the linoleum floor you may wish to add a capful of baby oil to the mop water.
For Wood Floors: Vegetable Oil and Vinegar. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of oil and vinegar into a solution and apply a thin coat. Rub in well.
For Painted Wooden Floors: Washing Soda*. Mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon hot water and wash the floor with a mop, sponge, or soft bristled brush. This solution can
also be used to remove mildew.
For Rubber Tiles: Mild Detergent. Avoid oils, solvents, and strong alkalies as they will harm the surface. Wash with clear water, a mild detergent, and a clean mop.
For Brick and Stone Floors: Vinegar. Mix 1 cup white vinegar into 1 gallon water. Scrub the floor with a brush and the vinegar solution. Rinse with clean water.
For Ceramic Tile: Vinegar. Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar (more if very dirty) into 1 gallon water. This solution removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn’t leave a film. Washing ceramic tiles with soap does not work very well in hard water areas as it leaves an insoluble film.
Club Soda. Polishing your floor with Club Soda will make it sparkle.
For Vinyl and Asbestos Tiles: Club Soda. Remove wax buildup by pouring a small amount of club soda on a section. Scrub this in well. Let it soak in a few minutes and wipe clean.
For Linoleum Flooring: Isopropyl Alcohol*. To remove old wax by mopping, mix a solution of 3 pans water to 1 pan rubbing alcohol. Scrub this in well and rinse thoroughly. Be sure the area is well-ventilated and wear gloves.
To remove black heel marks:
Baking Soda. Rub the heel mark with a paste of baking soda and water. Don’t use too much water or the baking soda will lose its abrasive quality.
To remove tar:
Scrape up excess tar with the side of a dull knife. Rub again with your fingernail, a popsicle stick, or anything that won’t scratch the floor. Finally, wipe up the tar with a dry cloth.
To remove crayon marks:
Toothpaste. Crayon marks on the floor may be removed by
rubbing them with a damp cloth containing toothpaste. Toothpaste will not work well on wallpaper or porous surfaces.
To remove grease from wood floors:
Ice Cube or Cold Water. If you spill grease on a wood floor, immediately place an ice cube or very cold water on the spot. The
grease will harden and can then be scraped off with a knife. Then iron a piece of cloth over the grease spot.
*more to come*