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Safer Alternatives to Hazardous Household Products

The following are some examples of less toxic alternatives to common household products. Using these homemade substitutes will save you money and help make your home a safer place.

Ant Poisons - Sprinkle cream of tartar (a substance used in baking) in front of the ants' path. Ants will not cross over.

All-Purpose Cleaners - Mix 3 tablespoons washing soda in one quart of warm water, or use baking soda and a small amount of water.

Aerosol Sprays - Aerosol sprays (such as hair spray and room deodorizers) release harmful substances into the air. Use pump-type sprays whenever possible. Use fresh flowers or potpourri instead of room sprays.

Chemical Fertilizers - Use organic materials such as compost, peat moss, and fish meal.

Copper Cleaners - Pour vinegar and salt over copper; rub and rinse.

Drain Cleaner - Clear clogged pipes with a snake (plumber's tool) or plunger. Pour boiling water down the drain. Do this every week for preventative maintenance.

Furniture Polish - Make a non-toxic polish by melting 1 tablespoon Carnauba Wax into 2 cups mineral oil. For lemon polish, dissolve 1 part lemon juice into 2 parts vegetable or mineral oil.

Glass and Window Cleaners - Use cornstarch and water, or mix 1/2 cup vinegar with one quart of warm water.

Oven Cleaners - Scrub with baking soda and water. Place liners in your oven to catch any drips during baking. Sprinkle salt on spills when they are warm and then scrub.

Paints - Water-based paints are less toxic than oil based, and no solvent is necessary for clean up.

Roach Spray - Sprinkle boric acid (sold as a powder). A 50:50 mix of boric acid and brown sugar may be effective. Be sure to keep these materials away from children and pets.

Rodent Poisons - Put a screen over drains. Use mechanical snap-traps.

Rug and Upholstery Cleaner - Clean immediately with soda water and baking soda paste; then vacuum.

Silver Cleaner - Soak in 1 quart warm water with 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and a small piece of aluminum foil.

Spot Remover - Immediately soak in cold water, lemon juice, club soda, or corn meal and water.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner - Use toilet brush and baking soda, mild detergent, or 1/2 cup bleach.

Tub and Tile Cleaner - Rub area with one-half lemon dipped in borax or baking soda. Rinse and let dry.