Safe and Easy Cleaning Alternatives for Your Home

You can make your own household cleaners with a few simple ingredients and recipes. See how below!

Baking Soda
Scouring powders that deodorize

Plain Soap (with no fragrances or Triclosan)
Liquid dish soap or bar soap

White Vinegar & Lemon Juice
Cuts grease and smells fresh

Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution)
Works like a disinfectant

Scrub brush or Scrubbing Pad

Microfiber Cloth


Air Freshener
  • Leave open boxes/bowl of baking soda in refrigerator, closet and bathroom.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in bottom of trash cans.
All Purpose Cleaner 
  • Mix liquid soap and water (soapy water).
  • Mix liquid soap with 1 tbs of baking soda; then add lemon juice and water.
  • Fill a spray bottle with ½ part vinegar and ½ part water; add some lemon juice for fresh scent.
Carpet Deodorizers
  • Liberally sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. Let set overnight, or for as long as possible. Vacuum.
Carpet, Rug and Upholstry Cleaner
  • Mix 1 quart warm water, 1 tsp mild liquid soap, 1 tsp Borax or T.S.P. and a squeeze of lemon or splash of vinegar. Apply with a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently. Wipe with a clean cloth and allow to dry. 
  • Use mild, biodegradable detergents. Look for naturally derived or glycerin-based soaps.
Drain Opener
  • Pour ½ cup of baking soda into drain, followed by ½ cup vinegar. After 15 minutes, pour 2 quarts of boiling water down the drain.
Glass Cleaner
  • Mix 1 quart water with 1/3 cup white vinegar and 2 tsp lemon juice (or 1 tsp liquid soap) in a spray bottle. Shake to blend. Spray on surfaces and rub clean with a soft, lint free cloth or newspaper.
Hand Soap
  • Use plain soap, free of scents/fragrance-free and dye or color.
Kitchen: countertop, floor & appliances
  • Use soapy water or soapy water mixed with vinegar.
  • Combine ½ part vinegar with ½ part water into a spray bottle.
  • To prevent or kill mold, mix 1 tsp tea tree oil per 2 cups of water. Apply with sponge.
  • Let vinegar sit on mold. Clean with soapy water.
  • To clean mildew from shower curtain, machine wash with ½ cup soap and ½ cup baking soda; add 1 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Bon Ami is an effective, safe option.
  • Mix 2 tbs liquid soap, 2 tsp Borax and 1 quart warm water; leave on oven for 20 minutes then scrub with a non-chlorinated scouring powder.
  • Combine 3 cups of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and scrub into the grout. Rinse well with water.
Toilet Bowl
  • Pour ¼ cup baking soda into bowl and sprinkle with vinegar. Let sit for half hour, then brush.
  • Mix ½ cup Borax with 1 gallon or warm water. Works like a disinfectant and stain remover.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) as a disinfectant as well. 
Wood furniture & floor polish
  • Mix 2 parts vegetable oil to one part lemon juice. Rub mixture in and let stand. Then polish with a soft cloth.
  • Oil soap is a good option as well.

Still feel the need to use chemical-based cleaners and detergents now and then?

Many products that San Mateo County collects in its Household Waste Collection events are available to residents for FREE through our product giveaway program.  Giveaway items include household cleaners, auto supplies, fertilizers, wood preservatives, stains and latex paints.  The Product-Give-Away Warehouse in Redwood City is open on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit our Product Giveaway Program online or call (650) 372-6200.