Household Cleaners
How Your Household Cleaners Impact Your Watershed

     According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household cleaners should not be poured or flushed down drains or washed down streets. This is because, over time, chemicals can corrode septic system pipes and might not be completely removed in the filtration process.


      Chemicals that are poured down the drain can also interfere with the chemical and biological breakdown of the wastes in the septic tank. In addition, antibacterial soaps are helping to promote growth of resistant bacteria.


      Many conventional scouring powders and cleaning solutions contain chlorine bleach, which is highly caustic. When it travels down your drain and into the natural world, it can create organoclorines, which are suspected carcinogens as well as reproductive, neurological, and immune-system toxins.

Safe Homemade Cleaning Solutions

     A good alternative to commercial household cleaning products is white vinegar, which helps kill bacteria, mold, and viruses on anything from kitchen surfaces to toilet bowls.

       However, the best way to kill food-borne pathogens such as salmonella or E coli is to use hot, soapy water to wash all cutting boards, dishes, knives, and surfaces that have touched raw meat and eggs.


      For scrubbing sinks, tubs, and counter tops a healthy alternative to chlorine bleach is to use a paste of baking soda, which will effectively remove dirt rings and some stains.

      If that doesn’t work, a paste of washing soda and water can be effective, but gloves are necessary in handling this combination.


     For cleaning windows, fill a spray bottle with water and either one-quarter cup white vinegar or one tablespoon lemon juice to cut grease.

Additional Homemade Cleaning Recipes
      All-purpose cleaner: 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax or washing soda, 2 cups hot water, 1/4 cup liquid soap. Mix everything but soap in a spray bottle and shake. Add soap last. Mix gently. Apply and wipe clean. Good for counter-tops, woodwork, appliances, etc.


       Scouring powder: Pour baking soda into a shaker and sprinkle in sink or on pans. Scrub with a rough pad and rinse. To make a heavy-duty scouring powder, combine 1/2 cup each baking soda and washing soda. This formula may scratch fiberglass. Use gloves; washing soda is caustic.

       Scouring paste: Mix 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap and enough water to make a paste. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and stir. Keep paste in a tub at the kitchen sink for scouring pots and pans or the kitchen sink itself.

       Drain cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. To create pressure, immediately cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Follow with a kettle of boiling water (about 2 quarts). Use this treatment regularly to prevent clogged drains and keep them smelling fresh. For stubborn clogs, use a mechanical snake.

       Kitchen sink disposal freshener: To freshen the disposal in your kitchen sink, drop in a few wedges of lemon and flip the switch.

       Cutting board deodorizer: Rub cut lemon onto the washed cutting board to eliminate lingering odors.

       Garbage pail deodorizer: Mix 1 cup baking soda with 1 teaspoon tea tree oil. Work out all lumps with a fork. Sprinkle in bottom of pail after liner is removed. Periodically rinse pail with vinegar and dry in the sun.

       Oven cleaners: Make a paste by mixing equal parts salt, baking soda and water. Apply to walls of oven. Let stand five minutes, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Use a brush on heavy spills. Do not allow baking soda to touch heating elements or wiring. For heavier cleaning, sprinkle the bottom of the oven with baking soda to cover. Spray with water until very damp and keep moist by spraying every few hours. Let it set overnight. In the morning, scoop out the baking soda – all the grime will be loosened; rinse the oven well. Washing soda can be substituted for 1/2 the baking soda for really tough jobs, but requires more rinsing and is more caustic (wear gloves).  Or use a non-chlorinated scouring powder such as Bon Ami, a pumice stick or a copper or steel wool scrubbing pad. A blunt knife is useful for prying up large crusty materials. Prevention is the key to a clean oven. Line your oven with foil or an aluminum oven liner found in the baking section of grocery stores.

      Tub and sink cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda on the porcelain fixtures and rub with wet rag. Add some Murphy’s soap to the rag for more cleaning power. Rinse well to avoid leaving a film.

      Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl as you would any scouring powder and add a couple drops of soap. Scrub with a toilet bowl brush and finish outside surfaces with a rag sprinkled with baking soda.