EarthKeepers: Non-toxic household alternatives

Thank you to everyone who participated in the annual Hazardous Waste Day last Saturday! We will hold this event every year. Start saving up those old batteries again for next year.

Now might be a good time to replace your brand-name hazardous cleaners with a safe cleaning kit made from basic ingredients, which include baking soda, white vinegar, borax, and a vegetable based soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s or other brands of Liquid Castile Soap.) Here are a few recipes:

  • All-Purpose Cleaner: 2 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tsp borax, 2 c. hot water; mix, +1/4 c. vegetable oil-based liquid soap; mix in a spray bottle
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Baking soda + white vinegar; sprinkle bowl with baking soda, spray on vinegar using a spray bottle, let fizz for a few minutes and then scrub
  • Fabric Softener & Deodorizer: Add 1-2 c. white vinegar to the rinse cycle
  • Dryer Sheets: Just use a wadded up ball of aluminum foil. This amazingly takes out that static cling and doesn’t leave any nasty chemicals in your clothes and linens. Replace when your aluminum ball becomes ratty and won’t wad up anymore.
  • Slug/Snail Repellent: Plant onion & marigold plants in your garden.
  • Slug/Snail Traps: Place a small can (empty tuna or cat food can) full of cheap beer at soil level. Slugs and snails will be attracted and drown. Empty and replace contents after a few days.
  • Earwigs and Pill Bugs Traps: Place a small can (empty tuna or catfood can) with a half-and-half mixture of vegetable oil and soysauce at soil level. This will attract these bugs who will fall in and drown. Empty and replace contents weekly.
  • Ants: Puchase “food grade” diatomacous earth from the Grange (NOT the same kind used in swimming pools!) It’s way cheaper to buy the large 50 lb bag which will last you forever. Sprinkle along ant trail, ant nest, around foundation of house, around raised garden beds. The benefit is that it will also deter slugs, snails, earwigs, pillbugs and other crawling insects. Does need to be replaced after a rain or watering – only effective when the powder is dry.
  • Bleach – Laundry: Use 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide in the rinse cycle (not on colors)
  • Bleach – Disinfectant: Screw a spray bottle nozzle onto the brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide (may need to trim the straw part to fit in the bottle.) Hydrogen Peroxide needs to remain in the brown bottle for it to retain its efficacy. Spray on non-porous surfaces – sinks, toilets, etc. Let it stand 15 minutes and then wipe off or just let it air dry. Just as effective as bleach in disinfecting, but it does take a tad bit longer (10-15 minutes).

Ann Hackett and Adrienne Kimmy