Alternatives for Household Cleaners

If concerned about color-fastness, always test a small area first.

All-Purpose Cleaners

  • Mix 3 tablespoons washing soda in one quart of warm water.
  • Mix baking soda with a small amount of water.
  • Mix vinegar with salt and water.

Furniture Polish

  • Melt 1 tablespoon Carnauba Wax into 2 cups mineral oil.
  • Dissolve 1 part lemon juice into 2 parts vegetable or mineral oil.
  • Wash painted wood with a teaspoon of washing soda in a gallon of hot water; rinse with clear water.

Metal Polishes

  • Pour white vinegar and salt over copper; rub and rinse.
  • Use a lemon juice and salt paste on copper and brass.
  • Use Worcestershire sauce or scrub brass with toothpaste.
  • Pour tomato ketchup on brass, let sit and wipe dry.
  • Use water in which onions have been boiled on brass.
  • Soak silver about 5 minutes in a quart of warm water containing a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of salt and a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Rub silver with toothpaste or baking soda and a soft cloth, rinse and polish dry.

Glass and Window Cleaners

  • Cornstarch and water.
  • 1/2 cup vinegar mixed with one quart warm water.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or rubbing alcohol mixed with water.

Oven Cleaners

  • Scrub with baking soda and water.
  • Place liners in your oven to catch drips during baking.
  • Sprinkle salt on spills when they are warm, then scrub.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons liquid soap, 2 teaspoons borax, and a quart of warm water; leave on oven for 20 minutes, then scrub with fine steel wool or a non-chlorinated scouring powder.
  • Dip a wet sponge in baking soda to clean glass oven doors.

Air Fresheners/Deodorizers

  • Grow lots of houseplants.
  • Use fresh flowers or potpourri.
  • Leave open boxes of baking soda in refrigerator, closets and bathrooms.
  • Saturate a cotton ball with pure vanilla; place on a saucer in refrigerator or car.
  • Simmer cinnamon and cloves.
  • To clean garbage disposals, grind used lemons in the disposal or pour in baking soda.

Drain Cleaners

  • Clear clogged pipes with a plumber's snake.
  • To unclog drain, pour 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush.
  • Pour 1/4 cup salt down the drain, followed by boiling water, every week for preventative maintenance.

Rug and Upholstery Cleaner

  • Clean immediately with soda water and baking soda paste; then vacuum.
  • Clean immediately with club soda.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • Use toilet brush and baking soda.

Mildew Cleaners

  • Scrub mildew spots with baking soda or sponge with white vinegar.
  • To clean a shower curtain, machine wash with 1/2 cup soap and 1/2 cup baking soda; add a cup white vinegar to rinse cycle.


  • Keep surfaces clean and dry to reduce the need for disinfectant.
  • For hospital-quality disinfectant, use 1/4 cup borax dissolved in 1/2 gallon hot water.

Instead of Mothballs

  • Cedar wood chips
  • Dried lavender flowers