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It's Murphy's Law: If you're wearing a brand-new shirt, you spill something on it. Or, you've just cleaned the house and your puppy decides to track mud across the carpet. What are some non-toxic quick fixes for life's large and small stains? Here are some effective methods that use what you may already have around the house.

Why bother with alternatives.
Many commercial cleaners contain substances that are toxic and can burn skin or eyes on contact. Without proper ventilation, their use can also cause injury from harmful fumes. According to the Poison Control Center, in 1997 there were approximately 230,000 over exposures nationwide to household cleaners of which seven were fatal.

Thoughtless disposal of hazardous products can have harmful impacts on people and the environment. Disposal in trash, or pouring them down the drain, can disrupt wastewater systems, seriously injure waste handlers, and contaminate drinking water.

What we mean by non-toxic.
This page offers non-toxic cleaning recipes for a safer home and cleaner environment. Non-toxic cleaners are cleaners that you can use relatively safely, as compared to other commercial cleaning products (which range from fairly safe to extremely dangerous). This does not mean that you can safely eat non-toxic cleaners or spray them in your eyes. Always label your home-made cleaners and keep them out of the reach of children.

These recipes generally work just as well as commercial cleaners and are less expensive. With the use of essential oils, non-toxic cleaners can smell more pleasant than commercial cleaners.

Many of the recipes on this page are from Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. For more recipes and information on household cleaners, this is an excellent resources well worth reading. Other books:
Clean and Green , Annie Berthold-Bond. New York: Ceres Press, 1990.
Nontoxic and Natural: A Guide for Consumers; How to Avoid Dangerous Everyday Products and Buy or Make Safe Ones, Debra Lynn Dadd. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1984

Dirty Dozen Cleaning Products The Dirty Dozen Cleaning Products
It is easy to overlook cleaning products as the culprit behind health problems. After all, they are improving the cleanliness of our homes, aren't they?  read more
All Purpose Cleaner 2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon borax or washing soda
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup liquid soap
Mix everything but soap in a spray bottle and shake. Add 1/4 cup liquid soap last. Mix gently. Apply and wipe clean. Good for counters, wood work, appliances, etc.
Dish Soap Use non-phosphate detergent
TIP: use half the recommended amount of detergent in your automatic dishwasher.
Scouring Powder Baking soda
Pour in shaker and sprinkle in sink or on pans.
Scrub with a rough pad and rinse.
Scouring Paste 2/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cup liquid soap or detergent
2 tablespoons vinegar
Mix everything except vinegar to form a paste. Add vinegar and stir. Keep paste in a tub at the kitchen sink for scouring pots and pans or the sink itself.
Stain Remover Salt
Juice of lemon or lime
Sprinkle surface with salt and squeeze lemon or lime juice over the area. Let sit and rub out. This can even remove rust if allowed to sit a few hours.
TIP: A wet pumice stone can remove tough stains from porcelain or enamel without scratching.
Drain Cleaner 1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
Pour baking soda down the drain followed by vinegar. Let it bubble for 15 minutes, then pour down a teakettle full of boiling water. For stubborn clogs, use a mechanical snake.
Oven Cleaner 1 tablespoon liquid soap
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup baking soda
Spray oven surfaces with soapy water. Mix salt and baking soda and sprinkle on wet surface. Spray again so that the mixture is damp and pasty. Let stand overnight. Scrape off with putty knife or wet pumice stone.
TIP: Prevention is the key to a clean oven. Line your oven with foil or aluminum oven liner found in the baking section of grocery stores.
Garbage Pail Deodorizer 1 teaspoon tea tree oil
1 cup baking soda
Mix and work out all the lumps with a fork. Sprinkle in bottom of pail after liner is removed. Periodically rinse pail with vinegar and water and let dry in the sun.
Laundry Soap Use non-phosphate detergent.
TIP: Add 1/2 cup borax or washing soda to the wash cycle to boost cleaning for heavily soiled clothes.
Fabric Softener Vinegar
Add 1-2 cups of vinegar to rinse cycle to deodorize and soften fabrics.
Bleach Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
Spot clean. Let dry. Repeat if necessary.
1/2 cup borax
Presoak in mixture of 1/2 cup borax in 2 gallons of hot water.
Diaper Pail Deodorizer 1 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon tea tree oil and/or
other essential oil
Mix and work out all lumps with a fork. Sprinkle in bottom of pail after liner is removed. Periodically rinse pail with vinegar and water and dry in the sun.
Laundry Stain Removers  1/4 cup liquid detergent
1/4 cup glycerin
1 1/2 cups water
Mix and pour into a squirt bottle. Use sparingly and run on stain. Wash. TIP: Do not use hot or warm water on sugary stains. Wash and rinse in cool water only.
Equal parts vinegar and water
Mix and use to remove tough stains including grass, perspiration, rust, jam, coffee, orange juice, wine, beer, ketchup, barbeque sauce, chili, urine and pet stains.
All Purpose Floor Cleaner 2 tablespoons liquid soap or detergent
1 gallon hot water
Mix, mop, and wipe clean.
No-Wax Floor Cleaner All Purpose Recipe (above)
1/4 cup vinegar
Mix, mop, and wipe clean.
Tile Floor Cleaner 1 cup vinegar
1 gallon hot water
Mix, mop and wipe clean.
TIP: To remove scuff marks, sprinkle with baking soda and spray with equal parts vinegar and water. Wipe clean.
Wood Floor Polish 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
10 drops essential oil (optional)
Mix and apply. Wipe clean.
Brass & Copper Cleaner 2/3 cup vinegar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
In a glass bowl, mix vinegar and flour. Add salt and stir. Spread on tarnished metal. Wait 1-2 hours. Rinse, dry and polish with a soft cloth and a dab of olive oil.
Chrome Cleaner 1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 tablespoons water
Mix to form a paste. Apply with sponge and rinse well.
Silver Cleaner 3-inch square of aluminum foil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup warm water
Dissolve salt and baking soda in warm water. Submerge the foil and silver in the solution. Wait one hour. Rinse silver and wipe dry with a soft cloth.
Use a non-gel toothpaste and rub tarnished spots with soft cloth and rinse.
Glass Cleaner 1/8 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake and apply. Wipe clean.
2 tablespoons borax or washing soda
Mix ingredients. Apply to surface. Wipe clean.
Leather Cleaner 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
Mix in a squirt bottle and shake before each application. Rub with cloth into leather for cleaning and conditioning.
Wood Furniture Polish 3/4 cup olive or mineral oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
Mix thoroughly in a squirt bottle. Shake well and squirt on furniture or rag and rub into wood.
Carpet Deodorizer 1 pound box baking soda
1 teaspoon essential oil
Mix using a fork to work out lumps. Sprinkle on carpet. Vacuum after 1 hour.
Carpet & Upholstery Stain Remover 1/4 cup liquid detergent
1/4 cup glycerin
1 1/2 cups water
Mix and pour into a squirt bottle. Use sparingly and rub on stain.
Club soda
Dish detergent
Blot stain with club soda then scrub with a dab of dish detergent.
Equal parts vinegar and water
Mix and use to remove tough stains including grass, perspiration, rust, jam, coffee, orange juice, wine, beer, ketchup, barbeque sauce, chili, urine and pet stains.
TIP: Never use warm or hot water on stains containing sugar!

PESTICIDES? Why Should We Care About Them?

Because the toxic effects of pesticides and all chemicals can adversely effect human health, consumers should try to minimize their exposure.SAFE SOLUTIONS to common pest problems

Ants Vacuum up with some cornstarch to suffocate them. Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray into and around where ants get in. A line of cinnamon or cayenne pepper will also deter ants.
Fleas Use cedar-filled pet beds. Try adding brewer's yeast or a little apple cider vinegar to our pet's food.
Mosquitoes Eucalyptus, citronella, and essential oil of cedarwood all repel mosquitoes. Remove standing water around your house.
Moths For pantry moths, use sticky traps. Store fabrics with cedarwood or cedar chips.
Wasps Close dampers and seal vents that may be entry points. Food left outside, like pet food or bar-b-que scraps will atract them, so be sure to clean up well.
Mice and Spiders Mice and spiders have an aversion to peppermint. Put some peppermint oil in a spray bottle with water, and spray your garage and all door frames.

Helpful links:

Ants How to Keep Ants Out of Your House Naturally - How to keep ants out of your home without toxic products -
read more

22 Surprising Uses for Lemons 22 Surprising Uses for Lemons

The Many Uses of Baking Soda

Green Cleaning - Do It Yourself Green Cleaning Solutions

Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

Check out the SWAC Event Planning Page for tips on holding a "greener" event.