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Alternatives to Toxic Cleaning Products    

The variety of cleaning products on the market today is overwhelming. There are products for every possible cleaning need, do you really need all of them in your home? Are they really safe for you and your pets?

Hazardous Chemicals in Toxic Cleaning Products

Many cleaners contain hazardous chemicals that can cause health effects ranging from minor skin irritation to possible cancer, aggravation of allergies and respiratory disease, or reproductive disorders. Many cleaners also pose physical hazards: some are flammable, some are caustic, and some can cause dangerous reactions when mixed.

If all that weren’t enough, many cleaners also pollute the environment. When used in the large quantities that our society does, everyone’s use of detergents, solvents, aerosol propellants, dyes, perfumes, and fillers add up to a large load of pollutants for our water, land and air.

Less toxic and less expensive cleaners for your home can be made from a few simple ingredients, including:

  • Soap flakes
  • Washing soda
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid soap
  • Mineral oil
  • Herbs and spices
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Tri-sodium phosphate (T.S.P.)
  • Non-chlorinated scouring powder
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Why change? Some chemicals in cleaners may be hazardous to you and your pet during routine use, even though exposure is only to small amounts in the air or on your skin. This is especially true of any product you’re you may use on the floors – your pet may walk on the floor while it is still wet and then lick their paws. You can reduce the risk by avoiding products containing chemicals.

Organic chemicals affect the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys; many are flammable, and a few are suspected carcinogens. “Petroleum distillates” in polishes and sprays, perchloroethylene in spot removers, mineral spirits in paint thinner, and p-dichlorobenzene in moth balls are all examples of organic chemicals. Strong acids or bases are corrosive to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and can react with other household chemicals. Acids are found in tub, tile, and toilet cleaners and in rust removers.

Hypochlorites found in chlorine bleach are examples of high-pH corrosive substances. Phenols and alcohols are poisonous and flammable chemicals are the active ingredients in most disinfectant products. Although synthetic detergents are not highly toxic, these cleaners are the household chemicals most frequently ingested by pets. “Real” soaps made from vegetable oil are much less toxic. Look for the word “soap” on the label. Cleaners may also contain added dyes, perfumes, fillers, aerosol propellants, and traces of ammonia and formaldehyde.

Try these recipes for inexpensive, effective cleaning products that are safe to use in your home and around your pets.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Add 1 teaspoon liquid soap and 1 teaspoon T.S.P. to 1 quart warm water. This solution can be used for a multitude of cleaning jobs including counter tops and walls.

Chlorine Bleach

Use hydrogen peroxide-based bleach.


Rarely, if ever, needed. If you must, add 1 oz. chlorine bleach to 1 gallon water for inanimate surfaces. Keep out of the reach of your pets!

Floor Cleaner

Add ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon water.

Glass Cleaner

Add to a spray bottle: ½ teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 cups water. For very dirty windows, add more soap.

Laundry Detergents (for grooming towels)

Use laundry soap in place of detergents and use 1/2 cup washing soda as a softener

Mildew Cleaner

For mild cases, scrub with baking soda. In more severe cases, scrub with T.S.P. and do not rinse off except in food areas.

Tub, Tile & Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Scrub with non-chlorinated scouring powder and a stiff brush. For removal of hard water deposits, pour in vinegar or a commercial citric acid-based toilet bowl cleaner. Allow to sit several hours or overnight, and then scrub.

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