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Less Toxic Alternatives

Reduce your use of hazardous products! Zero Waste Marin encourages everyone to use less harmful and toxic products to clean your home and office. Use baking soda as a good all-purpose cleaner and vinegar to make your windows and mirrors sparkle. Look for less toxic or non-toxic products when you shop, or create your own less toxic cleaning recipes. Be aware of “green” or “eco-friendly” packaging as it is sometimes simply a marketing ploy to promote a perception of truly environmentally friendly products.

Regular Cleaner Less Toxic Alternative
Brass polish Mix equal parts salt, white vinegar and flour to make a paste; let sit 10–15 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
Chrome polish Wipe with vinegar, then rinse and dry; shine chrome fixtures with baby oil and a soft cloth.
Copper polish Cut a lemon or lime in half, sprinkle with salt and rub onto copper.
Dishwashing Hand washing: Use vegetable oil based liquid soaps. Dishwasher: Use low phosphate detergents and run only when full.
Drain cleaner For minor clogs, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar; wait 5 minutes and follow with a kettle of boiling water. For serious clogs, use a plunger or a metal snake.
Fertilizer Use compost and mulches instead of chemical fertilizers.
Furniture polish Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, and a couple drops of lemon oil; wipe mixture on a clean cloth and polish.
General household cleaner Mix 1 teaspoon liquid soap, 1 teaspoon borax or baking soda, and a dash of lemon juice or white vinegar with 1 quart warm water.
Mildew/mold remover Mix 1/2 cup of borax with 1 gallon of water and scrub with nylon scouring pad.
Oven cleaner As a preventive measure, line the bottom of your oven with foil. To clean, use baking soda, soap and water with a copper scrubber.
Silver polish For jewelry: Place a few strips of aluminum foil in a jar of water; add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix; add your silver jewelry and let stay in solution for at least one hour or overnight; remove and polish with a soft cloth. For a “quick” polish, rub toothpaste on your silver, rinse with water and polish with a soft cloth.
Stain remover Mix 1/4 cup liquid detergent, 1/4 cup glycerin and 1-1/2 cups of water, then pour into spray bottle; club soda may also work.
Stainless steel cleaner Clean with baking soda and a soft sponge. Rinse with white vinegar/water solution.
Toilet bowl cleaner Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into bowl; let sit for an hour or so and scrub.
Tub and tile cleaners Mix 1–2/3 cups of baking soda, 1/2 cup of liquid soap, 1/2 cup of water, then add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar; use as a soft scrub cleanser.
Window cleaner Mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 quart of warm water. Use a squeegee for best results.
Wine stains Use club soda directly on stain; also try white wine on red wine stains.