Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Toxin-free Cleaning Solutions for a Healthy Home

By Clare Innes

Why do we all spend time cleaning? Many reasons come to mind, including safety. It’s just not safe to allow dirt and other messes to accumulate. But if you use toxic cleaners, doesn’t that negate the whole reason you’re spending all that time scrubbing away? When you use household products that have words like Warning! Danger! Poison! Caution! you might want to keep that toxic Pandora in her container and turn instead to alternatives.

These days, those alternatives are readily available. You can even check them out by viewing the consumer guides at the Environmental Working Group website ( Even better, you can make ‘em yourself! That way you’ll know exactly what’s in that bottle. Here are some suggestions.

  • Add 1 to 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle to deodorize and soften fabrics.
  • Use equal parts vinegar and cool water to remove tough stains and clean mold and mildew from tub and tile areas.
  • Make your own bathroom tub and tile cleaner: 1-2/3 cup baking soda; 1/2 cup liquid soap; 2 tablespoons vinegar; 1/2 cup water. Mix soda and soap. Then add water. Then add vinegar. Rinse thoroughly after use to avoid leaving a residue.
  • Make an antiseptic soap spray that won’t kill the good microbes: 3 tablespoons liquid soap, 20 to 30 drops tea tree oil, 2 cups water. Mix in a spray bottle and apply.
  • Need a little air freshener? Dissolve 10 to 20 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Add a cup of water and mix thoroughly. Pour into an atomizer bottle or spritzer bottle.
  • Silver cleaner: use an old toothbrush and rub on some non-gel toothpaste. Voila! No more tarnish.
  • Deodorize your carpet by mixing a one-pound box of baking soda with a teaspoon of your favorite-smelling essential oil. Use a fork to work out the lumps. Sprinkle on the carpet. After an hour, vacuum as usual.
  • Drains can become smelly after a while. Freshen them by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let it bubble for 15 minutes, and then pour down a full teakettle of boiling water.
  • When your garbage pail just won’t let go of smells, mix a teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup of baking soda. Mix with a fork to get rid of the lumps. Sprinkle in the bottom of the pail after the liner is removed. Periodically rinse the pail with vinegar and water and dry in the sun.

Clare Innes is the Marketing Coordinator, Chittenden Solid Waste District. E-mail:, Hotline: 872-8111.



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